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If You Don’t Have a Plan—Quit While You’re Ahead (sort of)

090705Rooster Above: another small (4 x 4 inches) pencil and watercolor sketch of a bird, this time a rooster. Click on the image to view an enlargement.

I frequently start without a plan, especially when I'm making a sketch that is a glorified color thumbnail. So if you start without a plan at some point you really do need to stop and think where you are going or quit while you are ahead.

Today I posted this small rooster sketch to make this point. I started this sketch because I wanted to work on using pencil and watercolor. I almost always sketch in ink these days, so it is a different thought process for me—what do I want to do with the pencil? The barest of details? A complete grisaille?

I also have been doing a lot of gouache work these days as I get some new paintings ready for an upcoming show. Mentally I have to turn my brain around to work in transparent glazes or in washes.

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Where Do You Find Birds?

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Above: One of my favorite sketches from my 2009 Fake Journal (see it all in a video clip, and in posted scans here). Schmincke pan watercolors over Ziller Glossy Black Acrylic ink (dip pen), on water resistant pages in an Alvin Field Book. Click on the image to view an enlargement.

The other day, after seeing my bird-filled 2009 fake journal online someone asked me where I found all those birds to draw. (The person was from Minnesota.) I wrote back telling her my some of my favorite places to go and look at birds in the Twin Cities—places where I can always count on a bird being present when I need a bird fix, which is actually at least once a day.

But her question made me think about the issue of "finding" stuff a bit more. My friend Linda once told me about a part of the brain (can't remember what it is called) where you can actually input things you want to look out for and it will hold "that thought" and see that item EVERYWHERE. So maybe you are looking for 66 Mustangs, or fire hydrants, or odd typographical signs, or, in my case BIRDS. Because you have set up your internal spotting engine to see those things you'll find an abundance of them. (You can actually do this in a general way too, by just suggesting that your brain look for visual journaling options and voilà—everywhere you look!)

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