What Do You Have on Hand?

April 26, 2017
Quick sketches of some Bosc Pears with a Pentel dye-based brush pen. A Niji water brush was used to draw out the shading from the water-soluble ink lines. (All in the largest portrait Hahnemühle Nostalgie Sketchbook—the paper is a dream to work on with the PPBP and its cousins.)

It has been hectic here lately. I notice I’ve been getting grumpy.

It’s not because I’m busy. I love being busy.

It’s because I miss the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen (and the Pentel Colorbrush Pen cousins).

All my projects involve other media right now. They leave little time in the day for my tired eyes to do more sketching for “fun.” (Sketching with the PPPB is pure fun for me—even when things don’t work!)

When this grumpiness happens I think you need to listen to yourself. If you can’t get out and see some people to sketch, if the studio still-life friends (my dinosaurs) are all staring at you with attitude because you’re neglecting them, you’ve still got to find something or someone to draw.

It doesn’t have to be major drawing project, in fact it helps if your subject choice is quick and easy to sketch. You want something you can reach for, set up, and sketch, just so you can reconnect with a medium and paper again. Maybe it’s like long ago when you knew you were going to have to give up the blankie but you just had to touch the soft satin binding one more time. The PPBP is my modern day blankie. If I can use it once a day I’m OK, miss days at a time and I’m grumpier and grumpier.

So I do the sensible thing and I grab some produce, put it out on the table, stand nearby with my journal and PPBP (or one of its cousins) and sketch. I work quickly without planning or thought for page design. I just want to get that pen to move across the paper and feel that gentle drag, the smooth flow.

In the same Hahnemühle Nostalgie journal, large quick sketches of the pepper I was going to eat for lunch—I just rotated it. I also scribbled in the background with the 15 mm wide tipped Montana Marker.

Sometimes I use the Pentel brush pen with dye-based ink so that I can wet the ink and draw out shadows as I did in the sketch of Bosc pears in today’s post. Sometimes I use get out the Montana Markers as well and fill in the backgrounds. The quick strokes over the background, filling the page with color, give me a great satisfaction.

And then I know that I can go back to work—to fuss with a pencil and a size 8 brush. I just need a little break, a little reconnection with something familiar and comfortable and fun, no work at all.

If you find yourself getting grumpy do a little self check. Think about what your favorite medium is and get it out and use it in a quick session. Let go of any notions of completing a great drawing, even a good drawing. If you’re a perfectionist, this is a great time to practice setting perfectionism aside in favor of productivity and joy.

If oils are your comfort level, that’s going to be more difficult so you’ll have to decide on your “quick” medium. I have friends who resort to thumbnails sketches—20 of them in a couple minutes, of some hastily tossed up still life, or found still life in their studio, Then they are good to go, for whatever the rest of their day holds.

When you find your comfort medium spend only 10 minutes reconnecting. Did your mood improve? If so do it again tomorrow, and the next day, and the next.

If your mood didn’t improve are you sure this is your comfort medium? If there’s something else you use try that tomorrow. If you’re still grumpy, well then it’s time to do a full self-evaluation and maybe even check with your doctor.

The Pentel Pocket Brush Pen can’t solve everything.

    • Christine
    • April 26, 2017

    Dear Roz – I’ve bookmarked your new site under “Inspiration,” which is the category in which I’ve kept your blog for years. I like the contemporary, visual vibe of the new blog. Thank you for, as always, generously sharing your time, enthusiasm, and expertise with the wide world of art and artists. We are in your debt.

    1. Reply

      Thanks Christine, I’m glad that you enjoy the blog and the info. I appreciate hearing from you!

  1. Reply

    Does Montana marker paint not stick to itself? I usually only paint one side of a spread if I’m using acrylics because of the sticking.

    In any case, good post. I’ve been embroidering a lot lately (even if the babies grab my work, they can’t damage it, and with a blunt needle it’s pretty safe and transportable) but it does feel good when they’re both asleep and a get a chance to smear paint around.

    1. Reply

      Caitlyn, at first I didn’t understand your question because I just read the first sentence. Then I saw what you’re getting at.

      It doesn’t stick to itself. That’s why I love it. I have thousands of page spreads covered with it and none of them stick to each other.

      It has a matte finish and no “plastic” texture that is present in most heavy bodied acrylics, or in the mediums used with such acrylics.

      Glad you enjoyed the post, hope you try the Markers, fyi, Wet Paint in St. Paul has a sale going on right now.

      And I hope that your babies sleep well so you get to smear a lot of paint around!

    • Paul
    • April 27, 2017

    Hi Roz, Now I know why I’ve been crankier than usual this month! Te “fake” me has been using pens he doesn’t like for your IFJM. Only three more days to go before returning to MY favourite drawing instruments! Love the new look of your blog, it continues to be a source of inspiration. Thanks for all your efforts.

    • Deb
    • April 27, 2017

    Oh this so resonates with me…. and I am in my studio 6 days a week ( a sabbath day being essential and healthy for me) But I find, even though I am working on lots of art related projects and my ongoing fine art practice, if I have not done some sketching in my sketchbook I get antsy!! Somehow the day is not full filled if I have not done some drawing… just for fun. Maybe it’s something about not taking myself too seriously (I am pretty well ALWAYS thinking about my making) and just do stuff for fun or experimental reasons. Maybe I’m actually the most honest and real when I draw without thinking too much. It’s a sheer relief after all the navel gazing and second guessing and angst ridden thinking I put into my fine art! I’m making it sound awful, it isn’t, but I do get sick of myself some days and wish I could turn off the whirring for a while. Maybe that’s what the sketchbook does for me… allows me to shortcircuit the whirring and be in the moment, ever grateful again for my life and my loves.

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