While traveling I carry quite sparse luggage , so the inventory of personally meaningful things to sketch is quickly done. My yoga mat- my faithful companion on every trip, my favorite mint green happy headphones for closing myself off in a world of music , a small loudspeaker to listen when I am not alone, and now recently lots of sketching material. My clothes and toiletries feel easily replaceable, so not interesting.
Yogamat and towels
Of all these objects, my yogamat is definitely the most personal one. I practice yoga most every morning, no matter where I am in the world. Everything in my life is ever changing and very free, with different schedules, which is beautiful and sometimes really hard. But since 10 years now- rolling out the mat and practicing is the start of my day wherever I am.
This particular mat is 3 years old now, so it has seen many countries and many hours of sweating and breathing. One little corner is missing because kitten Shakespeare chewed it off, and there are claw marks too. But now- how do I do a composition with the yoga mat? Its a really ungrateful shape.
And the accessories : well used soft towel and a very special sweat towel purchased in Mysore, India- not very obvious shapes. I add my mala and risk some trials.
A3 sketching paper. I start by using a new pencil, Conte pastel, in purple! I am so happy to have found these pencils, look like charcoal pencils, but colorful! The texture is very dry and rasping against the paper though, my movements are not so fluid.
I am struggling both with shapes and tone here. I add black charcoal for the darker parts.
I decide to try sketching a more detailed simple pencil sketch. A3, pencil 3B and 6B.
I am happier with this drawing. The composition is more harmonious and fills the page, and I can feel the texture of the objects better.
Now I decide to try something more experimental- ink on newspaper. Also because I don’t have any bigger paper than A3. First I cover the page lightly with rather transparent white acrylic, just so the pictures especially don’t become to obvious. Then I draw with black indian ink.
I didn’t realize , that because of the acrylic paint, the paper doesn’t absorb the ink, so it flows quite freely and it is practically impossible to control the tone. But I still think this flowy messy version looks good. I like the idea to draw on newspaper and will explore that further.
Here I post one more sketch on the same subject and on newspaper I did now back home again. I was really happy to discover that I have a newspaper from Mysore, India, In Kannada language, which is much more relevant for the subject- I have very fond memories from practicing at the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute there four times. Now the newspaper from Mysore- daily practice, daily paper, rolling out the mat.
I covered the pictures lightly with white acrylic again, then draw in pencil. Then I shaded some parts with a fine liner pen to create some more sense of texture. And then shading, smudging erasing a willow charcoal stick. I used a white charcoal stick for the highlights.
Suddenly I look at my drawing materials and realize- these are objects that trigger a response! I love them all! I love having discovered how much pleasure drawing gives me, and how this too is something that I can easily do anywhere in the world. They look good too- so here comes a composition of drawing materials.
I continue exploring the newspaper background, lightly covered with acrylic, but this time I use a black charcoal stick instead. Then I smudge some parts and add highlights with an eraser and a white charcoal stick.
I am happy with the composition and with the character of the newspaper as a background.
Here I try the same composition on brown wrapping paper, using a “Venetian red” (!!) charcoal stick. I like the brownish color on brown background.
I am tempted to try one more drawing of this with the beautiful green gold ink I now have, but decide I will save that for some composition where both bottle and “feather” are not figuring as models.
Home again: I am feeling into what objects in my house trigger some special feelings and a surge to draw them.
I have just been away from home for 6 weeks straight, so it is quite easy to feel what objects I am really happy to see again. It is a new way to look at my home and I enjoy this process!
Crystals and wood
My “altar” or crystal corner is full of my favorite stones and sticks from all over the world. I love bringing a stone or crystal or piece of wood from the places I visit, and they all tell a different story. I am also attracted to the idea of drawing some irregular shapes so it is not so obvious when my ellipses are crooked 🙂 This definitely calls for a play 🙂 In the house, I have a big painting of Ganesh on driftwood behind, but the difference in size does not look good for the drawing. So I will choose a smaller piece of driftwood in the background, a lotus flower shaped candle holder, some frangipani flowers from my garden and a snake shaped stick.
A3, and finally I draw in golden green ink:
I am really disappointed by how difficult it is to control the tone with the ink. The whole image is kind of striped and boring and disappointing. I don’t really see how to continue this, so I will start again. A3 sketching block and the beautiful Venetian red charcoal pen.
Again, I am disappointed, it’s quite boring and as much as I love the objects, I decide that this is not really worth continuing in this way.
New day, new trial. I am logging this out of order, this is my last drawing for Assignment 1 as I am handing it in tomorrow. I decide to try the driftwood, candleholder and crystals again.
I like this composition better, it is more dynamic, especially the shadow of the candle holder is interesting. I changed the frangipani for some bougainvillea. A3 sketching paper and a whole range of black media that I find most fitting for the different textures : pencils 3B, 8B, fine liner pen 01, 04, black Indian ink, charcoal sticks, then white charcoal and some white acrylic touches for the highlights ( as the white charcoal is not really visible on the ink).
My bathroom- ah these little precious details, that makes it so good to be home again 🙂 The soap dish and toothbrush cup are in ceramic and already have artistically irregular shapes, so again the drawing of shapes doesn’t have to be so perfect. I love coming home to my own bathroom 🙂 There are a lot of small things here , that make it my space. The soap dish and toothbrush cup were the first things I bought for this house. The cup is chipped, and normally I would throw out a chipped cup, but this one survives every clearing attempt. It is a handmade ceramics cup in the shape of a crumpled paper cup, and a matching soap dish. And a piece of loofa, a funny shape.
I start with a charcoal willow stick drawing on brown packing paper. I think something is missing in the background , so I add my Balinese basket containing my jewelry. I try different versions with necklaces hanging out, but decide to keep the shapes really clean and simple.
A3 sketching block with a green Conte pastel pencil, and then adding purple to the shadow. Also white for highlights:
When after sketching here for ever, I stand up to get a drink, I notice that the light looks more interesting from the back.
I choose to draw this quite quickly on another newspaper , with the willow charcoal stick, just to try it out.
Here the shadows are a big part of the composition. I would probably crop the image by the low black bar. The newspaper is upside down, which I chose to make the characters of the page less important ( and it is in Chinese anyway), but it adds a slight irritation so next time I will turn the page right.
Fruits and vegetables
I know this is really not an original idea for a still life, but I definitely felt super happily triggered going to the market today and finding all the amazing organic fruits and veggies I am spoilt with here! I ate half a watermelon before starting and had to restrain myself for hours to not start on the small papaya too:)
First I draw very light outlines with a 3B pencil and then go straight to drawing the tones with black ink and a brush. I want to avoid getting too fixated on the outlines. I find it difficult to get the right tones with the ink, its often lighter or darker than I want. But in essence I am happy to try this new approach.
I was planning to continue with a fine liner pen, for the details, but decide to go a little rougher and lighter with a charcoal pen instead to keep the happy and not so perfect style of the ink.
I use a soft black charcoal pen and smudge for the darker tones and a harder black charcoal for the details. Then I use a white charcoal pen for white lines , especially on the watermelon as I cant erase the ink. The highlights do not shine enough with the white charcoal, so I add some touches of white acrylic paint instead. I quite like that the composition looks a little sloppy, maybe like spilled out of a bag. And I am happy that I managed to fill the whole page. I have to learn how to control the tones of the ink better.
I try the same composition on another page of a newspaper. I like this page again as a background because it is so evenly printed with little Chinese characters and figures, without pictures.
Here I just spent much less time, I wanted a more rough and spontaneous sketch. I think it is all too even in tone. I highlighted some little details with white acrylic paint again, but I didn’t want to cover too much of the newspaper. The result is messy, but I like that it reminds me of the market, and maybe wrapping produce up in this paper.
What have I learnt during this chapter?
Work on a satisfying composition BEFORE launching into hours of shading. No more objects floating on the white page, please 🙂
Log drawings more often and before sketching many drawings repeating the same mistakes, because often something became apparent when having to comment on the drawings- like a boring composition for example, or not using the whole page.
Use small periods of time- it may not be as satisfying as having large cozy times sketching to music, but it is still worth it.
Spend less time doodling crazy eyes in my sketchbook and more doing the course material. This month was a little extreme as I was travelling so much and it feels easier to just doodle something publicly than studying shades.
Look at surface and texture- not only outline.
I want to work more on both shapes and texture and am happy that the next chapter leaves room for that.
Reflective surfaces are interesting and not as scary as I thought.
And there is just so so so much to learn!!!