A Look at My Sketching Set Up for International Fake Journal Month

June 19, 2017
I put my iPad in a stand in front of me, used an Ott light (top right edge), and taped my toned paper to a piece of stiff cardboard. My paints, brushes and water container (out of frame) were to the right.

While working on image 30 on April 30, 2017 for this year’s International Fake Journal Month Journal I thought it would be fun to take couple photos of my sketching set up to include in my project. Last week, while trying to make the gallery of images work I forgot to add the set up photos.

I was not able to use my drawing table during April because it was being used for an on-going work project, so I made a makeshift work station on the studio table I use for binding. This isn’t ideal because it means pigments can stain the surface of the table and transfer to paper I’m tearing or to covers I’m constructing. But I kept my paints and water on a heat resistant mat I use for Gelli Arts Plate Printing and wiped the surface down each day.

In the first image you can see my basic set up. The stand I use is made by “ChargerCity” and I purchased it from Amazon. I would prefer a stand which allows me to set the iPad Pro on an inclined easel next to my working paper (also on a table easel) so I can work sight-size, but I haven’t found table easels I like yet. (One good thing about the stand shown is that the large screen of the iPad Pro fits it well).

For a backing board to hold my paper I used the stiff cardboard backing from a used up watercolor block. I used Nichiban masking tape to hold the corners of my paper down. I was working on French Paper Speckletone which is not a wet-media paper. However, since I was working with only light washes of watercolor the paper didn’t buckle much and tape in the corners was sufficient to hold it flat while I worked.

This is the color pencil sketch I made on April 30—the final sketch for the project.

The Ott Light is a floor stand model which can be positioned over your work area. In the photo it makes the ceramic dishes glare, but during work sessions the positioning of this “overhead” light caused no glare off the screen or dishes.

I worked with a variety of watercolor brushes. Mostly for this project I worked with sable or synthetic rounds size 4 through 10, and a couple smaller sized filberts. I sketched with Berol Prismacolor pencils in several shades of “red.” (See last week’s post for a swatch chart of the pencils used.) A few of those pencils can be seen sitting next to the pink protective mat.

In the first and last images of this post my paints can be seen in small ceramic “petal” palettes. I like to use these for studio paintings when I am working with a limited palette and small washes—which I knew I would be doing for this series of drawings. (To see other palettes I use for studio work you can go to this post.)

My watercolor palettes sat next to my water container (an empty yogurt container). The paper towels are for absorbing excess water from my brush. I had to work very dry on this paper. I clean my brush on those towels as well and they are clean here because I haven’t started painting.

The first and last photos contain some tubes of watercolor. I did NOT use the Lunar Red Rock. I got it out to test early in the month and it just got pushed around the table until the end of the project.

I only used watercolors with a little bit of white gouache added to the mixes as needed. I used watercolors because I had them out for another project. I added a bit of white gouache because I was going to be using tints on toned paper. In watercolor you create tints by diluting your paint with water. This allows the white of your paper to shine through the the pigment layer and create the tint. Light paint on toned paper wouldn’t have the sparkle or lightness I needed. Additionally since this wasn’t a wet media paper the paint would sink into the paper and look darker. The tints needed the addition of white gouache to keep the toned paper from shining through.

A closer look at the paint palettes.

On Day 3 I did use a small amount of Schminke Horadam Gouache Helio Turquoise. I needed the richness for the blues in the hair.

Initially I had only one palette, the one in the front, or bottom (depending on which image  you’re looking at). It contained Winsor & Newton Ivory Black, Daniel Smith Sepia, and Schmincke Horadam Gouache Titanium white. These were pigments I was using on another project, and they were the pigments I intended to use for the entire IFJM project. However, as mentioned in my wrap up post, the prompts coming from Sktchy necessitated an expansion of that palette. And once that initial expansion happened (even on day two I felt it important to add the Quin Lilac, and Cerulean Blue which I mixed with black and white) I then allowed myself to experiment with an additional pigment now and then through the month. But I always tried to focus on as few pigments as possible in each portrait. Most portraits use only three or four pigments.

In the final photo containing my palettes you also see my ratcheting pencil sharpener. It’s a Sonic Ratchet Capsule Pencil Sharpener I purchased from Jet Pens. Since purchasing this pencil sharpener I’ve found various ratcheting models at other vendors, including Wet Paint in St. Paul (where I purchased one and tested it). They all work well. What’s great about these pencil sharpeners is that you can turn BOTH your hands as you sharpen the pencil. In a normal pencil sharpener this would spell disaster for your lead. The torque of the opposing actions of your hands would cause the lead to crack in its barrel. But with these as you twist your hands the sharpener does a counter motion (the ratcheting) and there is no pull on the pencil during the return twist of the sharpener. Also this brand makes really sharp points.

So that’s where I worked every day in April 2017. The pencil sketches were all quick—typically under 10 minutes. I intended to make corrections and adjustments as I laid in the paint. Painting lasted between 20 and 60 minutes. It was a battle for my character to keep from getting fussy. That’s something we know she got from me!





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