I always keep a sketchbook, in fact I keep several.
Sketchbook is loosely defined. Some are traditional sketchbooks, some are pocket-sized journals, some are digital, and of course there is an abundance of scraps and napkins, etc which I consider to be part of my sketch evolution. Profound, I know.
The goal is to have something nearby to record thoughts which don’t always (read: almost never) knock before entering. This is intended to help me keep my sanity, I’m doing super with that.
I have roughly 4 zillion projects in various stages of completion, some may stay in an rough, incomplete state forever and I am entirely ok with that. I find that even if I intend to turn something into a full-fledged masterpiece it often will creep in the shadows indefinitely. Often it will slip into an aspect of something in progress at a seemingly unrelated juncture. I’ve understood a bit about harnessing the creative process my subconscious doesn’t always grant me clear access to. I think of it as marinating which is very cool but also a bit unnerving. I think if day had 60 hours in them I would have a pretty solid amount of work to sort through.
The evolution of my Dr. John Nash project is an excellent example
of an ongoing masterpiece.
I started the physical sketching of this within 48 hours of his death but it had been in progress well before then. While only snippets of this are complete, I’ve used techniques I developed during the process in the time since (and in between stages, not all of which are shown here).
The eye shown here is a combination of charcoal & water, India ink & gouache.
I’ve been (slowly) learning some printmaking techniques. Here are some process shots from my first attempt at linocutting.
Overall, I was happy with the results but I didn’t particularly like the block (scrap, actually) of lino I was working with. It was too hard. I found something softer but have yet to try it. Stay tuned.
Speaking of printmaking, here is an etching.
This guy is a specimen at the Mütter Museum here in Philadelphia, PA. I took a 2-day workshop where we got to draw some interesting specimens on day 1 and then turn them into etchings on day 2.
I found this far more challenging than linocutting but I understand there is quite a learning curve. This isn’t the first time I have done any sort of etching, just first time in my adult life.
The museum offers a good number of art-related workshops which are right up my alley as I very much enjoy combining scientific and/or medical themes into my illustration. I regularly attend lectures and events at the museum as well.
In progress pieces with anatomical subject matter
I take a lot of photos while I’m out and about. I usually just want to capture a theme or remember an idea I can’t put into words (or don’t want to stop to write down). Sometimes certain angles are powerful and sometimes I find a seemingly hidden message in something all too simple.
The peeling letters next to my seat on the NYC subway are the perfect example of why I keep a digital photo sketchbook.
Perspective is really significant here, how you read (pun intended) them can influence how you let the visuals speak to you. I don’t think we pick what hits us as much as we would like to believe we can.
The involuntary effects of these emotional interpretations can help us shape how we communicate the messages we develop from them (to others or ourselves), as well as facilitate our delivery.
Impromptu sketching produces some of my favorite results. It’s no secret that I can overthink things. My brain takes in so much that it can be hard to filter it all and I’m left with excess information to sort.
Not thinking about what I’m doing or working with limited tools in front of me taps into areas of my brain that I’m not currently focused on.
These are discarded or VERY cheap items that I’m preparing to use as canvases.
I’m beginning to understand the joys of painting. Working as a designer makes it crucial for me to set time away from a screen. I was illustrating in the digital realm almost exclusively up until a little over a year ago and I’ve started to build in more and more analog art sessions into my life. Physical art tools are incredibly therapeutic.