Page by Page

June 19, 2024


Page by page I’ve been working through one of my last remaining hand-bound journals containing ThSaunders/Waterford 90 lb. high white, hot press watercolor paper. The great news is that they are still making this paper so that I could bind some more of these approximately 8-inch square books.

This is one of the recent square pages. The top of the hair and the bottom of the beard are running off the page. I was referencing a muse from Sktchy whom I draw a lot. (It’s obvious why.)

So the other great news is that when you start to put the paint on this paper the water in the washes activates the gelatin sizing on the paper and creates such a delightful aroma. The smell of opening your sketchbook when you’re 10 and have just purchased something really special and aren’t drawing on those lined accounting books you get at the News Agent’s, and instead have a book with “real” paper, and well—it’s the science of nostalgia right there.

And the next great thing is that every stroke of the brush goes on so delightfully. Just as you intended, just as you had hoped. 

More than any other person, I have absolutely nothing against painting on non-art paper. In fact on most days I probably prefer it to using watercolor paper.

Why? I’m a contrarian.

Surely by now you’ve realized that about me. It probably took my mom only 2 minutes to recognize it when she “met” me. But you’ve had the advantage of reading my blog for almost 15 years!

If it is such a wonderful experience to paint on this outstanding paper why don’t I simply work on this paper all the time?

Well probably for similar reasons as to why I don’t eat all the chocolate my mind tells me I really could eat.

Taking time off from this paper makes it all the more wonderful when I get back to it. And I bring a larger series of goals and ideas back to try on it.

I think that leads to greater connection with authentic gratitude. Not lip service which simply causes the universe to be embarrassed for you.

It’s the same way having only one brownie a day allows you to appreciate that brownie and the full nuance of the chocolate.

OK, there’s another reason I don’t paint on this paper every day—I have nostalgia for those lined accounting books I used to get at the News Agent’s. They had their own rich odor and their  own pleasing paper surface, texture, and drag. They required a different type of attention from my mind and my hand. An experience I still chase through experimentation.

I told you, I’m a contrarian.

It’s where all the fun is.

    • Harriet Braun
    • June 19, 2024

    DANG ,you are a GREAT ARTIST!!! VERY grateful to have been able to have your great teaching for 6 months. THANK YOU!!!!

    • Harriet Braun
    • June 19, 2024

    DANG ,you are a GREAT ARTIST!!!

    • Jane
    • June 19, 2024

    Another wonderful portrait.! Colors, strokes, negative space… full of energy and beauty.

    • Buffie
    • June 25, 2024

    Oh my word, yes, the bookkeeping ledgers, that paper … and “vintage” index cards! What happened to index cards when I wasn’t paying attention? They used to be smooth, heavy paper, but now soft, spongey, thin, not even as heavy as cardstock. Alas … I do miss these things now that I have, my own self, become vintage.

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