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Dogs, Gouache, Epiphanies, and Insomnia

September 14, 2011

See the full post for details and additional detail images.

110910Dogs
Above: Page spread from the 9 x 12 inch studio journal I keep (Fabriano Venezia). That's embossed foil that was collaged to the page before I turned there. I used the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen for both sketches (though you can't see much of the pen work on the recto page any more. Dog park dogs, from photos up on my computer screen.

Those of you who have been reading along will know that I should be scanning! I will return to scanning my 2011 State Fair Journal just as soon as I type this. But I wanted you to have something to look at today and I think this is sort of fun. (The embossed metallic foil was continued over from the previous page spread. I'll have to scan that spread at some point and post it.)

110910FoilDetail Right: A detail of the embossed foil paper that was collaged on the page before I started sketching. I have used the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen over such paper and it does eventually dry, and I've also painted over it with gouache. But on this day I was content to simply sketch next to it.

Some nights I have trouble sleeping. On September 9 I slept from 11:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. and after an hour of "willing" myself to fall asleep again I simply got up and puttered around for a bit, sketched the dog on the verso page and puttered around some more (I made great strides in filing away a job that had just ended). Then I was off for a interesting day of conversation with two old friends (a six-hour talkfest). That night I still wasn't tired so I did another sketch, adding gouache this time.

110910NoseDetail Left: Detail of the muzzle area of the dog's head. I added some callouts to draw attention to bits that I was fond of, and which you might wonder about. A: the white of the paper is showing through in this area. B: I've used white gouache over a painted layer here, lightening the color. C: to the left of C you can see an area where the white paper shows through a very transparent wash of gouache, different from the heavier applications of gouache you find elsewhere on the head.

I've been experimenting a lot with several Cobalt blue gouaches (from different companies). The one in this image is an inexpensive (and smelly) gouache from Lukas, but it does have a certain chalky appeal that my other finer quality gouaches don't have, and sometimes it's fun to have that. I've also been using a lot of raw sienna. Don't know why exactly, except since the spatter dogs I've had the tube out and it's easy to grab. Sometimes things are that simple.

Total paints used: raw sienna, cobalt blue, quin magenta, titanium white (all M. Graham except for the cobalt blue from Lukas), and an orange/red (flame?) from Holbein that I used the last of and tossed the tube so I can't give you the specific color name.

I was working mostly with a 1 inch filbert (often on the edge around the eye and lips). The broad stroke of blue at the top of the page gives you an idea of the full width and size of the brush. I switched at the very end to use a no. 10 round for a couple details. Both cheap synthetic brushes.

A word about composition: It should be fairly obvious that the purpose of the recto page sketch was sheer play with paint. I started my sketch with the eye of the dog and worked out in every direction from there, ending with his nose tip fairly close to, well touching, the gutter. If I'm honest with myself, and you all, and it's one of the reasons I write the blog, then I would have to say I shortened his muzzle so that I wouldn't cross the gutter with just a tiny bit of nose. But who's to know for sure? I really wanted some of that neck on the page. The goal was to work with these paints to see if this profile interested me; to cover up my sketch lines; and to play with the light on his head and into his neck. The blue lines around the face were really just an excuse to make fat strokes with thick paint. Try it yourself. You'll love it.

Back I go to scanning. (You'll be happy to know that I'm reading some new books to review shortly. I'm also trying to learn how to use my new mini camera—more about that when I write about my State Fair Experience!)

    • Sheryl C
    • September 14, 2011
    Reply

    I think the gouached dog is breathtaking – the colors and form are beautiful!
    Your blog is one of my daily (sometimes twice daily) stops – you share so much of yourself and in such a humble, uplifting way – thank you.

  1. Reply

    Sheryl, Thank you for the kind words about the dog. I’m quite fond of him myself. I just might have to make a regular place for cobalt blue on my gouache palette!

    I’m glad that you are enjoying the blog. I hope you keep checking in—though once a day is plenty, you need to use the rest of your time for sketching!

    • Arika
    • September 14, 2011
    Reply

    Love that dog! I never would’ve thought to reach for cobalt blue for a dog painting, but man, it really works.

    Btw, I got the Venezia journal a few days ago and it is LOVELY. Kate from Wet Paint has been super, helping me out with an order. I actually started a new journal while waiting for the Venezia to arrive, but I will definitely be using it when the current one is full.

    My current one is the Fabriano Artist’s Journal, which is a bit of a challenge b/c I’m not wild about the paper covers, but the paper is heavenly. It’s the one with ivory and tan papers, and I can’t get enough of it.

  2. Reply

    Arika, glad you enjoyed the gouache dog. I know you’ll enjoy your Venezia for painting. (OF Course Kate has been super—she’s wonderful!)

    I’ve never used the Fabriano Artist’s Journal you mention because it is perfect bound, i.e., just held together with glue pushed in at the roughed up edges of the spine, before the paper covers are put on. So I’ve never trusted it to hold together.

    But perhaps they’ve changed it and it isn’t perfect bound? Let me know if that’s the case.

    Judith Lang Main was using one at the State Fair Sketchout with wonderful effect. Go check out her work in a post over on UrbanSketchers—Twin Cities.

    • Arika
    • September 14, 2011
    Reply

    Roz- it is still perfect bound, and that almost made me not buy it as well. But something about it “felt right,” despite all the things that worried me (the thin papers, the binding, the paper covers, the fact that it doesn’t lie flat). I kept coming back to it, so gave in and decided to work with its imperfections. If I end up holding the darn thing together with duct tape, I’ll know better for next time! lol Unfortunately my stores just don’t have a lot of options, and I couldn’t go spiral bound since I’m constantly working across the gutter.

    I will definitely go check Judith’s journal!

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