Doodling with a Brush

December 10, 2013

131017_GouacheWashFaceLeft: 9 x 12 inch face doodle, using leftover gouache on my palette, and then a Pentel Color Brush (pigmented ink variety) for the line work.

Today I'm still thinking about my personal expansion of the word "doodling" and how it fits in my drawing practice.

This sketch, made during a lunch break, is loosely based on a mugshot of a 19th century Italian political prisoner.

I needed to warm up for a painting I was working on. I reached for one of the plates I use as a palette that already had some gouache on it. I wet the dried gouache on the palette and took a 1-inch wide brush and stroked up some color. I started spreading color all over the sheet of paper, squinting while I looked at the photo, keeping the highlight areas white and covering everything else with layers of paint. Sometimes I used the back of my hand to "brush" the paint from one place to another—typically moving the paint outside of where I had established in my mind the face would end.

When the layers of purple-red earth were dry (this was just a mess from my palette) I put the photo away and drew the outlines of the features from memory.

The lines were my opportunity to fix the shading, to rope it in, to create some definition. And they provided me with an opportunity to test my memory. I let go of expectations as to whether the finished sketch would look like the actual person or not—I just wanted it to be pleasing in some area, some portion, I just wanted to see, what if…what can I get down.

This serves as a form of doodling for me. It turns off my expectations, it allows me to go with the flow and simply enjoy the brushing on of the paint and the feel of the ink brush on the paper. Then I'm ready to go on and get to work.

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