To keep myself drawing while I’m working out what my post-cataract eyesight will be I’ve been videotaping my sketching sessions. I find that the resultant videos allow me to look again at my process and ask myself questions about the progress I’m making with my eyesight.
It also takes the focus off of whether or not I “should just skip it.”
My whole life has been about doing a thing because it’s time to do that thing. This means exercise, sketching, and of course working (especially if you are a freelancer and like to eat).
For me it also means sketching when I have vertigo, the flu, injuries, etc. So it seemed to me that if I was going to continue sketching in a post-cataract life I needed to continue my habit of sketching. Duh.
This technological approach of videotaping the sessions has kept me thinking about the process of sketching itself, and not the headaches, pain, frustration, and exhaustion that sketching now causes.
Unfortunately technology comes with its own frustrations.
While sketching the image in today’s post the recording app I was using quit because of some conflict (the computer later died so I think it was more than just a conflict). All I was able to salvage was a short portion at the end of the painting session which shows little progress (since it’s at the end).
In the meantime, I’ve started over with an alternate arrangement of equipment, and worked out a better audio approach—I have a tendency to talk down into my drawing while sketching so it doesn’t help if the mic is hanging above your head!
Process on This Sketch
Beginning with a fude fountain pen and sketching from a Sktchy photo reference I worked on a 6 x 8 inch sheet of Strathmore Toned Mixed Media Paper (Tan). As often happens I expand beyond my paper and I knew I’d be doing a piecemeal portrait. (You can find out more about these by using the blog’s search engine to find piecemeal portrait or piecemeal style.)
I used Nichiban artist’s masking tape to attach the small sheet to a 11 x 14 inch piece of the same paper. Then I finished my sketch, ignoring the existence of the tape.
As you see in the second image today I then used a 15 mm wide tipped acrylic marker to make the background orange. This will allow me to apply watercolor to the taped areas without watercolor beading up on the surface of the tape.
Why use tape?
Look, Dick doesn’t understand why I love to do this either. And normally I use patterned washi tape!
I simply love not being confined to a small sheet if my drawing goes over. I also love texture. Nothing makes as fun a texture as various layers of paint on tape!
Sometimes as artists we also do things simply because they are FUN.
I enjoy challenging myself and my abilities to apply paint in different ways to achieve textures and finish which create a recognizable portrait (always a plus) and yet also set up a reverberation between surface texture and the illusion of likeness.
And frankly moving paint around this way is simply FUN.
We can spend all our time analyzing our every impulse, or we can get cracking, get something down on paper, and then think about the approach and how it might fit into our grand scheme of “things” later.
I’m for doing the latter. I think it is useful to experiment with our media and methods to find the directions we want to explore.
Life changes us not only emotionally and intellectually, but also physically. I gave up photorealistic stipple illustration decades ago because I found that my eyes fatigued too quickly to make that approach to illustration an on-going money maker. And we do after all have to survive in the world.
But moving into other media, leaving detailed color pencil drawings behind as well, wasn’t painful or difficult, it was exciting and fun. I was able to take existing skills and bring them forward into something new that was coming out of me.
Every time we sit down to sketch and paint, we have the opportunity to experiment.
My energy and enthusiasm comes from this desire to explore and try to solve visual problems for myself. I want to see where the paint takes me.
Touching this now, when there are physical impediments to making art, is a way for me to stay connected to my creativity while I work out what is next for me.
What Is Coming?
Many of the videos I’ve recorded in the past few weeks have resulted in useable video that I think will be interesting to my students. They might be interested in how I’m trying to deal with my new eyesight issues, they may be interested in how I approach sketching in my old method or discover new approaches as I go along, or simply redefine my old methods.
Because of that I’ll soon be starting a Patreon site. This site will allow me to share these videos with interested students as well as stay in touch through group chats about materials and methods.
The method of turning my many in-person classes into online courses has proved too time consuming. Hundreds of hours are spent video taping and then editing the tapes, just by myself. I have not found a large enough student base to justify that time commitment. Economically I can’t support that venture.
But one of my longtime students said she’d love to watch me sketch and simply chat, and hear not only my insights on art making and materials but also my many digressions. Because of that I thought the Patreon site might be a way for me to continue to teach a little while also sorting myself out.
I’ll post more information about this as it takes shape.
In the meantime I’m going back to my drawing board to videotape more sketching sessions so I can look at my own process and move forward. It’s a necessary part of working through setbacks.