See the post for complete details.
Above: Quick gesture sketch of a gourd. Pentel Pocket Brush Pen and Schmincke pan watercolors in a 9 x 12 inch Fabriano Venezia journal I use in the studio (too big to carry around).
The other night I was standing at the kitchen island and I had just finished this sketch and was starting to add paint. I put in a layer of yellow paint and then right away started in with colors in the green areas. I worked quickly, adding one color after the other, wet-in-wet, right on the paper. Dick, sleepy, wondering when I was going to come to bed, had wandered into the kitchen and was watching me. He's watched me sketch and paint 10,000 million times before.
D: Can you do that? Mix right on the paper like that?
R: I can do whatever I feel like. Whatever gets it done.
So what was happening on this night that was different from all the other times he's watched me paint, watched me just slop the paint around and blend right on the paper? Do we see things because of the scale? Do we see things differently because of the subject matter (no cute animal to distract the viewer from the process here)? Does speed bring home an observation only casually registered before? Is there a point of consciousness that is hyper aware, at the same time it's dulled to other things, just at that point of waking from sleep? Does a sleepy person just have a need to make conversation?
Dick's a really observant guy. Something on this night struck him differently.
I didn't ask him about it. It didn't seem kind to keep him up.
R: Go to bed Dick, I'm not going to be up late.
Note: The shadows you see on the scan are caused by the paper buckling. The paper in the Venezia will buckle a bit when you paint with a lot of liquid on it. However, it never buckles past the point of workability (i.e., it stays flat enough to keep working). After it dries and you close the book it gets pretty flat again, retaining only a little bit of buckling (i.e., there is no great yawning at the fore edge of the book).
For performance this is the best commercially made sketchbook I've found that is both sewn signatures and a wet-media paper. It isn't perfect, however. On this day, while applying the sloppy washes in the green bottom portion of the gourd I actually added new colors so vigorously I got a bit of pilling of the paper—something that happened because of the vigorous nature of my strokes, the amount of water used, and the amount of repetition (while the paper was still wet). Usually this doesn't happen. (And you can avoid it by simply waiting for the paper to dry before you layer in another wash.) It would have been healthier for this sketch if I'd waited for the base of the gourd to dry because my darkest darks wicked out to the edge of their wash area as they dried. Am I perturbed? Nope, that's why it's a quick sketch, and it's also one of the things I like about it. What I like most about this sketch is that from start to finish it took only a couple minutes but each moment was intensely fun—the movement of the brush pen and the black ink line appearing on the white page, the laying on of colors. It all made me incredibly happy and it's one of the reasons I try to encourage people to sketch—I'd like everyone to feel this happy. How great a "tool" that is when you have had a shit day? Happiness is always only a couple minutes away. The finished piece isn't what matters. It's the seeing. I know a whole lot more about this gourd now than I did before. That makes me happy too.