It’s easier on my brain

Saturday February 12, 2005

I managed to throw myself into a frenzy of washing and cleaning today. Lasted for about an hour and a half before my sketchbook and a mug of steaming coffee called… And that was about it for the day, really.

I should have gone out. It was sunny enough. When I took the trash out, though, and did a round of the house to check for damage after last night’s gales—there was none—a chill breeze hit me and I decided to see what I could glean from the freezer and the store cupboard rather than brave the elements and go spend good money at Tesco’s. The fruit bowl is still doing well, fortunately, so I’m not lacking on fresh stuff. I’ll need to do a full-scale shop on Monday but, for the weekend, I’m happy to stay home, pottering from one pleasant task to another.

“You know what, Dolly?” I asked.


“I haven’t been out of the house and garden since I got home from Boston on Wednesday. Haven’t spent a penny, either.”


“Can’t say I’ve missed it.”


“You’re right of course. ‘So what’ is the best way to view it. Come ‘ere and give us a cuddle.”

And so the time went.

I’m enjoying sketching, mainly in pen and wash, in my small Winsor & Newton case-bound book. The paper, smoother and lighter in weight than most people would consider ideal for watercolour, presents a challenge in terms of time and surface. Try as I may I cannot make it accept more than three glazes before the surface degrades, and the pen needs careful handling, too, to avoid scoring into the body. That adds a dynamic to the job of making the marks and laying the washes, a dynamic which I greatly enjoy.

The paper buckles under the brush as it’s applied, too, and even more so as the washes dry. I’m happy with that and I like the way the book takes on a life of its own as the pages refuse to flatten even under a heavy weight. It’s easy enough to detach a page and flatten it after applying a little gentle, non-wetting steam, and that’s worth doing if a sketch is to be promoted to a formal painting, mounted on board. Mostly, though, I like the buckling. I do need to find a stout elastic band, however, to hold the book closed in my bag.

I’ve been looking at the possibility of making a sketch book from thin card, or from a heavyish watercolour paper. That might be fun.

In fact the whole thing is fun and, just for now, easier on my brain than dragging words about.


Stickford, Feb '05
Sketchbook study: Thornbush



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