share

In Context—Sketching while Sick

July 23, 2018
A quick sketch with a fine-tipped black ink pen and watercolor washes, on a page in a journal made with Arches Text Wove (Velin). There is a writo in the text. “I have to accept first goes on this paper,” needs that “to” I omitted. It means I have to accept that the “first go” or first marks on this paper have to be the ones I want—this paper doesn’t give you the option of scrubbing that real watercolor paper will.

My hiatus has been a bit of a bust. Instead of catching up on my ongoing projects and starting a new one that I really wanted to jump into, I came down with a respiratory bug.

I sketch even when I’m ill. Many may think that’s a waste of time and paper when you’re coughing so hard you make random marks on the paper—zigging when you should have zagged. I think it’s the best way to keep thinking about shape, proportion, color, line, and timing. I think it’s the best way to keep myself sane. My journal isn’t about perfect pages, it’s about my life. That includes all the coughing and the writos that make it into my text.

Sketching while sick is a great time to ratchet back your expectations. Maybe it’s time you had a little chat with your internal critic? Why shouldn’t you sketch now? Why shouldn’t you use the paper up? Who’s stopping you?

While sick, every page for me is a success, whether or not I make a successful sketch. It’s just an extension of my normal philosophy. All intentional practice is valuable.

Each page is also a step closer to sanity. As always, I find little things on each completed page that I can enjoy, smile about, and even cherish.

These little things—like the reminder t0 myself that I have to work more carefully on Arches Text Wove than on the watercolor paper I’ve been working on—will help me transition back to this paper as I continue to get well. I have been testing so many watercolor papers I haven’t used this paper for over a year. I know that this summer and fall I may take journals containing this paper on trips. Even while I’m ill I can still be preparing for those trips simply by doing my daily sketching.

Detail of plum. You can see that the paper has a slightly pebbly texture. It’s still smooth enough to do detailed sketches and write small text easily, but it has enough texture to impart a little bit of extra character to your washes.

Sketching while sick is also immensely encouraging when you start to see your healthy self reemerge (even slowly) on the page—when a portrait starts to stick a likeness, when a second wash strikes the paper just at the critical moment of dryness in the first wash.

If nothing else goes well for the entire day you have that gloriously fun moment when you were sketching and everything was almost normal again. It’s a promise that things will be normal again. And even if you are in the midst of real change, such as a shift in eye health (which happened to me earlier this year) and you know that there is no going back, such moments are a promise that you can find a new normal; that you are capable of finding work arounds. That in fact is what living a creative life is based upon—that resiliency you practice every day.

Resiliency keeps us in the present moment while creating a path to the future. Sketching helps us develop and retain resiliency.

 

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Related Posts

    • Nancy Hanson. Bergstrom
    • July 23, 2018
    Reply

    I think it’s very beautiful how the colors work together and blend
    And I love how it looks like a birds head !

      • Elaine Magliacane
      • July 23, 2018
      Reply

      Good eye, your comment made me look again… and there was the bird.

      1. Reply

        I didn’t see it either Elaine, until it was pointed out. Ha, I draw birds even when I don’t realize I’m drawing birds.

    1. Reply

      Nancy, I didn’t see that until you mentioned it. It makes me very happy to see that. Thank you so much!

  1. Reply

    I hope you are feeling fit as a fiddle soon!

    1. Reply

      Thanks Annie, the antibiotics have been helping!

    • Trudy Mason
    • July 23, 2018
    Reply

    That you Roz, My life is very not normal right now with life threatening illnesses for two close family members . I have been trying to figure out a way to deal with all the stress. Although I have not been able to make art in the past during stressful times I want to find healthier more positive ways of handling things. Your post was very timely and helpful. Thank you so much, and I hope your recovery goes well.

    1. Reply

      Trudy, you and your family are in my thoughts. It must be very stressful. Regardless of whether you’ve been able to make art in the past or not I urge you to do some now. I really do believe it will make a difference. I can no longer count the number of times my sketchbook has helped me get through tense times at the hospital when one or the other of my in-laws was in emergency waiting to be omitted. Also having your sketchbook handy is a great way to write all the information the doctors come in and provide—which you really need time to absorb. I hope good health comes to all your family soon, and that you can start bringing yourself to the present moment and less stress with your drawing.

    • Kate bucci
    • July 24, 2018
    Reply

    Oh my. I needed this today. I’ve recently been diagnosed with cancer and had a double mastectomy, I’m waiting to start chemotherapy now. And while it has kick- started my sketching practice again (because if not now, then when?) I sometimes find it hard to start making marks on paper. But it is such an important part of resilience. Thank you and I hope you feel better soon!

    1. Reply

      Kate, I’m so sorry to hear about you cancer diagnosis and double mastectomy. I hope that you have been recovering well from surgery and are able to go into chemotherapy strong. I do think that sketching while you’re ill and having these experiences can be helpful and buoy us up. I have a student who last year had several rounds of chemo and actually turned her onsite sketches into a booklet that’s quite a wonderful document. I also think it’s important to acknowledge the moments of our lives as we live them. Best wishes to you! I hope you can sketch a lot.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

RozWoundUp
Close Cookmode