share

Going with the Flow: More on Mixing Sketches with Collage

November 7, 2009

A step-by-step look at a journal page spread which uses dip pen sketches, brush pen sketches, and collaged scraps.
091105Persimmon

Above: yet another spread from my “weirdo” journal. I discuss this below.

In an on-going attempt to show you what is going on in this journal, and give you a sense of the working method in the hopes that you will experiment and discover a working method that suits you, I thought the above image would provide a useful example. Here’s the breakdown of what happened, with a little bit of editorializing:

1. After a drawing session with the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen and Quattro graph paper (you can see additional sketch lines and another face’s eye in the collar of this man’s shirt) I painted the sketch with Schmincke pan watercolors, let it  dry, and cut it out. (Watercolor on this paper buckles the paper, but the paper is hardy enough to take quick washes and even some reworking and additional glazes if you let it dry a bit between paint applications. I have a love of plate-surface papers and this paper is smooth and lovely and creates interesting puddling of the paint.)

2. I turned to a blank page spread and thought about where to stick the man’s face. Since I didn’t have the top of his head (drew right off the top of the pad of graph paper) I needed to either run it off the top of the page, OR put something above his head, OR draw the rest of the head in when I stuck it down. Since the head isn’t drawn well to begin with (there’s an odd angle problem I got trapped in) I knew if I put it down lower and drew the top in I would be fussing and I didn’t want to fuss. I toyed with putting some collaged paper along the top of his head when placed lower on the page, but it looked a bit claustrophobic, so I abandoned that.

At this point I also thought of putting him on the verso page, looking off into the distance, however, I really thought that he would face something on the opposite page and interact with it so I placed him on the recto page. (This becomes important later.)

3. Before sticking the head down I took a piece of Canson Mi Tientes and slid it under where the graph paper ended. I cut it so that it would finish the front of his chest/shirt, and run off the page at the right and bottom. I then glued it in place, glued the man’s head on top, closed the book and weighted it until the glue was dry.

4. Well not quite: I had this metallic blue paper and I tore it into scraps, reopened the book and put one on the verso page vertically and one on the bottom of the recto page, horizontally. I had in mind that these scraps would “frame” the spread and help this man connect with whatever ended up on the verso page. Then I shut the book and weighted it. (When I opened the book later I used the brush pen to draw a line down the front of the blue paper edge that makes the man's "body" and extended a scribble line from the graph paper onto the blue/gray paper, to unify the two.)

I let papers that are glued to the edges of pages OVERHANG. Then when they are dry I go back and trim them to the edge of the page, by working on the back side where the page edge is visible, inserting a cutting mat (a scrap of mat board typically) and using a straight edge to guide my X-Acto. You can see me cut paper this way in my short film on supporting glue seams in a casebound book.

5. For about a week this man sat there all lonely. I had a persimmon I wanted to sketch and I thought I would do some quick sketches of it across the page and maybe link him to the sketches in some way. In my colored pencil class I was talking about hatching with my students. Hatching isn’t something that I do much in colored pencil work, but I make my students do exercises for it so they get exposed to "everything." Anyway, I was thinking about that conversation, and one thing led to another, and I wanted to work with my dip pen and sketch that persimmon because it was a gift and if I didn’t sketch it soon it would spoil—so I got out the dip pen and started sketching, but instead of a series of quick sketches I started really getting into the first sketch (top sketch) and just started having fun with the pen hatching on this paper. (Readers will remember that this particular journal was made from Magnani Annigoni Designo that was PADDED. I couldn’t get it in full sheets at the time I wanted to try out this paper in a handmade journal [February 2002]. The padding process has made this paper stiffer, flatter, and a bit smoother. While dip pen is fun to use in the books I’ve made with this paper from full sheets, it is really fun to use on this surface when it had be flattened even more!)

Well I got so carried away with the hatching (things that are happening, like discussions you have with students, impact what happens in your journal) that I went on to add a shadow where the next version was going to sit and then just wrote about the fruit and did the two quick sketches at the base of the page.

Note: I use Japanese dip pen nibs that I get at Wet Paint. The packaging is in Japanese. I suggest you contact them. I use a Tachikawa nib holder. These are short and suit my small hands, nicely balanced, and have a universal top, which takes both nibs with a half-moon edge and quills which have a circular base. I also get these at Wet Paint. (Because I get just about everything I use at Wet Paint and their website is being revised, Tim brilliantly came up with a way to get you right to the products I love. He is going to be creating a page on their website of my favorite supplies! This will eliminate frustration if you are trying to find the same items I am using. This can’t happen right now because it’s the holiday season for vendors, but when this is up and running I’ll let you know.) I used Ziller Glossy Black acrylic ink with the dip pen.

I wasn’t thinking any more about how they would relate to the man’s face. If I had been thinking about that I would have made my text column narrower, and you’ll learn why in a moment.

Note: someone asked me the other day about why and how I write in columns, and I’ll have more to say about this in another post, but basically writing a column of text freehand just seems to be my default function for dealing with text.

Persimmondetail Left: A close up of the top persimmon sketch showing more detail on the hatching. You can see little squiggles of black everywhere in the background. These are wool fibers that are part of this wonderful, delightful paper. Together with the tan color the fibers give the surface a lovely variety and life.

6. When I finished the persimmon page it was pretty obvious to me that the spread wasn’t going to relate across the gutter. I could put a background across the spread, but that would mess with the hatching I did on my persimmon and I liked the way it stood on its own. Instead I took a piece of the Canson Mi Tientes that I used for the base of the man and cut out a thin strip. I made it a thin strip because I didn’t want to glue it into the gutter, where opening and closing might dislodge it. (I couldn’t come over much onto the right page because of the extension of the nose.)

7. I glued the strip as close to the text as possible. This is why, if I had realized earlier I’d need and want to do this, I would have written a narrower column. My idea was to create a break between the pages, give the nose some breathing room and abandon any sense of the pages communicating with each other. It’s cramped, but it sort of worked for me.

8. The next morning I decided that using orange (and some white) gouache all over the back of the head portion of the spread would intensify the break, and at the same time give a nod to that persimmon which is colorless in the sketches, but was actually that background color. (My mind is always grasping at straws!) Additionally the orange is a complementary color to the blue scrap paper; and blue and orange were the watercolors I used in the man's head sketch. I left the paint to dry.

9. After my bike ride I had to run some errands and I threw my dry journal into my pack. After coming out of an office building in Northeast I looked back towards the city. The skyline was shining in the dwindling light. It was 60 degrees and sunny and I didn’t really need any more encouragement to stand and scribble in a little bit of the skyline at the base of the man’s head page.

10. Back at home I was tidying up my scraps and found the text phrase. It totally matched what I had been thinking about all day. I stuck it in place. “You don’t really know what you are in for”

If I had planned this spread out all in one sitting it would have been totally different. I would have thought through some of the issues relating to the composition, I would have made different choices. The great thing about working in a journal is that you don’t have to agonize over such details. You can go with the flow and if you end up with something that isn’t "as planned," or isn’t what you would have preferred, you’re still ahead of the game because your mind has worked through these issues. The next time you’ll be thinking about them differently, or if you do sit down to do a spread in one sitting it will all come to bear on your thought process.

So none of this is wasted and it’s a heck of a lot of fun—which as you may recall I have mentioned several times now, is exactly what visual journaling needs to be. [Yes, I avoided the word “should,” though few of you would argue with me if I used it in that sentence I think.]

    • Christina Trevino.
    • November 7, 2009
    Reply

    Roz, how did you learn to “see” as you do?

    When I read your post I felt as if I have some kind of blindness.

  1. Reply

    I love reading about how you work in your journals. When you do your drawings, do you use pencil first, or do you just use your pen?

    • Zom
    • November 7, 2009
    Reply

    Obviously you have been doing this a long time. I ‘read’ your experience in what you write.

    I love your posts. It is conversing with another artist. Thank you.

  2. Reply

    Yes, I’d like a post about “seeing” too. Christina’s comment about blindness fits my creative life. I often feel like I’m missing some important creative rods and cones in my imagination’s peripheral vision.

    • Roz
    • November 8, 2009
    Reply

    Thank you Cheryl. I draw directly with pen. I don’t mind the little squiggles that are “mis-placed” lines, they help me see where to put the “real” line.

    It’s also a matter of speed and convenience. And I like a nice dark line.

    Sometimes in my watercolor paintings outside of my journals I’ll sketch with a pencil because I don’t want lines to show through the graded washes, but now that I work mostly in gouache I find that even outside the journal I rarely sketch in pencil, I just grab the brush pen and know I can cover it later with paint.

    I actually have a small journal on my computer desk which is simply for pencil sketches (paper is unsuitable for anything else), which I started because I found the paper was delightful to sketch on and I missed sketching in pencil. Sadly it doesn’t get much use.

    In the summer I did a couple bird painting “thumbnails” in my journal that were drawn with pencil only, and then just painted. http://typepad.rozwoundup.com/roz_wound_up/2009/06/duck-with-landscape-what-started-as-a-thumbnail-sketch.html is the link to one. I actually wanted the pencil to show through as a sort of “grisaille.”

    I haven’t turned any of those “thumbnails” into paintings yet, however, and don’t know what medium I’ll use.

    But basically, the short answer, is sketching directly with pen is my preferred sketching method.

    • Roz
    • November 8, 2009
    Reply

    Thanks Zom, I do hope they are like conversations. I love talking about this stuff with my friends.

    • Roz
    • November 8, 2009
    Reply

    Maggie, I’ll work on that, but you aren’t missing and creative rods and cones, it’s practice. Keep at it. (Oh, and turn off any internal critics, if present!)

    • Carolyn
    • November 9, 2009
    Reply

    Oh, I love this! I can relate to your transformative process (similar to the way I journal collage with images, words and sketches) and your designer mind. I really like that thin strip to the left of the gutter, next to the red-orange, his nose pointing to one fruit, his eyes to another, the graph lines, the bit o sketch carried on his collar…yes, oh yes,…how fun it is reading your progression. Thank you for taking the time to record it with words!

    • Carolyn
    • November 9, 2009
    Reply

    I meant to add…it’s a process of discovery! (can you tell how excited I get about this?)

    • Roz
    • November 10, 2009
    Reply

    Carolyn, thanks for sharing my enthusiasm for process! Last night in colored pencil class I was showing how to make flat and graduated watercolor washes on top of which we were then going to work in colored pencil and as I was going through the process I just got so happy I started laughing. I think process adds years to your life if you enjoy it.

  3. I have to agree with Carolyn. There is a cohesiveness to the spread. Although they are different pages, the blue, the way he is looking over at the persimmon and the black lines on both pages make them go together. I like things to be a little bit “off” as my daughter would say but really, I enjoy just looking at the whole of this spread. The persimmons would be boring without the orange from the facing page and where would he be looking to if the other page weren’t there?

  4. Reply

    I don’t know why it made me sign in with such a weird addy thing. It wouldn’t take the usual name. The post with the weird address from google is mine, Timaree’s.

    • Roz
    • November 13, 2009
    Reply

    Thanks “google accounts” I appreciate your kind feedback about the spread.

    • Roz
    • November 13, 2009
    Reply

    Timaree, thanks for writing again and telling me about this. I don’t know why that was either, but it’s nice to know you aren’t someone selling viagra!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

RozWoundUp
Close Cookmode

Pin It on Pinterest