Put Out Fresh Paint, or Don’t—Just Have Some Fun

December 13, 2013

131204_GouacheCapGuyLeft: 9 x 12 inch sketch (cropped in the scanning) made with a Faber-Castell Pitt Artist's Calligraphy pen and covered with layers of gouache. (Richeson Recycled Watercolor Paper.)

To wrap up a week where I've been dancing around my own definition of doodling and trying to push you to just sketch something (or doodle something) in your own drawing practice, I've got this sketch I made while watching television.

This is an older character actor and that stuff on the sides of his head is white/dirty hair. (I have to mention that because even Dick didn't know what was going on when he looked at it.)

131204_GouacheCapGuyDetailLeft: detail where you can see some white paint added, as well as the original white of the paper left in the underlayers of the hair.

The character took a pose I thought would be interesting to draw. I stopped the TV. I did a quick pen sketch knowing I was going to obliterate it with gouache later. (You can see some of the ink lines at the base of the page.)

Next I got out some gouache that was already sitting on one of my plate palettes and started painting. I did a lot of magenta in the base, but most of that is gone, covered now. THen I started working with the only high key color I had on the palette—yellow.

Huge error. Because of course I wasn't getting the look I wanted and the contrast I needed. But I had been just too lazy to get up and get new paint. Part way through the painting I even wrote down on the page "need white paint."

At that point I thought I was going to stop. But then I decided that I might as well push things and see what if…

So I went and got some white paint. The use of yellow, and the repetitive addition of various colors throughout made it really fussy and muddy, but I enjoyed working on this because I kept picking away at it, much like you might pick at a doodle!

Despite all the fussiness this fiddling created, there are parts of this sketch that I really enjoy. And I share it with you now to remind you that you don't have to enjoy the whole, that you can learn from parts, that you can get stuck in a hole and pretty much crawl your way out while having fun, if you keep going.

So put new paint out, or don't put new paint out. Don't labor over the decision. If you truly don't feel like you'll be painting for a long enough length of time then probably you don't need to put out any more new paint. If you think you have a stellar idea for a painting that you really want to spend time on and "get right" then maybe you need to take a moment to put some paint out.

But there's a lot to be said for the learning potential of a session of mucking about. The learning takes place in your head. It's there for you to access next time you have these situations or circumstances. The painting or sketch is an artifact of that learning process, it doesn't have to be great. But you do need to put paint to paper.

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