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Project Friday: Go Ahead, Paint on Lightweight Drawing Paper

May 31, 2019
Portion of a 9 x 12 inch page spread in a Canson Sketchbook. Platinum Carbon Black ink and watercolor. With some lavender gouache at the end, because I simply am powerless to resist.

If there is one thing I would like to communicate to blog readers it’s that you need to go ahead and paint on whatever paper you have at hand.

Simply because in the process of making the paint stick to paper that isn’t meant to have wet media on it you learn something about the paper, your painting technique, and yourself.

What could be more important or more fun?

This sketchbook, a Canson 180, was given to me about 4 years ago by a sketching friend who knew I liked books that open flat, and also liked interesting bindings. This book has a fabric spine strip protecting the sewn signatures, and two hard cover boards.

Here is the ink sketch when I finished.

At the beginning of the year I fished it out of my “stash” of commercially bound journals so that I could take it as my next book to life drawing co-op. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to return to the co-op since my eye surgeries. 

Instead I saw the book sitting there, I picked it up, picked up a fude fountain pen, and started sketching from a Sktchy App photo (I go days without seeing anyone now as I’m still not driving). The man had a fun sneer. 

Here are the first washes. I almost stopped here because the paper isn’t for wet media and I liked this look, but there was all that lavender gouache sitting out from another project. Sigh.

For some reason, after I drew his head, and just as I started to draw in his neck (see vertical line beneath ear, still showing through) I decided that he didn’t look “modern.” He looked Elizabethan. Who doesn’t love an Elizabethan collar? So I added one in. Now he looks like someone’s ancestor sneering down at us from the wall.

I have more sketches from this period (of my life, not the Elizabethan period) that I made in the Canson 180 sketchbook. I can’t really recommend the sketchbook at this time because as I used it for my painting experiments the exposed fabric spine wrap started bubbling out in an interesting way that may be fine, and just an expression of use as you work through the book, but also might be an indication of weak structure.

I’ll return to this sketchbook when I resume life drawing co-op attendance. When the book is full (which will be awhile) I’ll give you an update.

Detail. Look at the fun way the Schmincke Azure blue puddles under his nose on this paper. Lots to love about this paper.

In the meantime, if you have one of these books, or another drawing book with 65 lb. or so paper, do some painting in it just for fun. Don’t worry that the paper warps. Use LESS water in your washes, remain calm, and carry on.

Other books I shouldn’t be painting in but currently am: the Hahnemühle Travel Book. You can find posts with examples from that book already on the blog.

Let your sketches take you to a whole different century.

Yes This is a Project Friday Project

Dig out one of those sketchbooks you’ve been saving for dry media, for life-drawing co-op, or simply thought you’d never use because the paper is too lightweight.

If the paper is at least 65 lb. (lots of variables here, but rather than go into it just use that as a bench mark) go ahead and paint in it this weekend.

Make sketches with your favorite pens for use with watercolor.

Then ratchet back the amount of water you typically use, and start laying in some washes. 

Have some fun.

Don’t forget to get out your brush pens and do bold brush lines and ink washes as well!

If the paint or ink bleeds through the paper in your drawing sketchbook make a decision about whether you care or not. If you care, then simply sketch only on the recto pages of this book during this project.

Try to get 3 paintings done today, and again each on Saturday and Sunday.

Use your friends, family, and pets for live subjects. Work from the TV, Sktchy, or old family photos if there are no live subjects about. (Note: Sktchy is only available the iPhone/iPad at this time.)

Be sure to make some notes about what you liked and what you didn’t like about the way the paper you’re using takes to watercolor. What if you used it only in certain places? What if you worked monochromatically and only laid in two levels or shading (thus limiting the amount of paper covered)? You might even come up with a style.

Remember you can always put the book back in the life drawing co-op pile. But you may just find your next journal!

    • Corinne McNamara
    • May 31, 2019
    Reply

    Love that sneer and collar! Your blogs make me wish I had your discipline for keeping track of the type and weight of papers. I used to make notecards and stationary and have too many pieces left from those days without info (brand, weight, type).

    1. Reply

      So glad you enjoyed it Corinne. Something to think about in keeping track of papers, you can’t go back and get the info you didn’t have noted down, and realistically many of those papers may no longer be available or may have changed; so you can let that go. But it only takes a few minutes to make paper notes and you can start today and build that habit so you have that information in the future. Additionally if there is some paper from the past when you made stationery that you really love, take that sample to an art supply store with a ton of paper on offer, or a paper warehouse where there are tons of papers. Show it to someone on staff and tell them what you liked about the paper and they will help you track down likely candidates for a new favorite paper! It’s an ever changing world and since we make works on paper it’s worth keeping some notes.

    • Stephen Rogers
    • May 31, 2019
    Reply

    You transformed him into Edmund Blackadder. Well done.

    1. Reply

      Stephen, thanks, I didn’t think of that but I’m a huge fan of EB. (In fact that is probably my favorite season, “We have the preliminary sketches.”)

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