Saturday, 7 January 2012

The first of many

Today was the day I had been promising myself for a long time. Well, it wasn't a day - in the end it turned out to be just 45 minutes - but they were gooooood!! For 3 months it has sat on my shelf teasing me seductively. Perched at eye-level I couldn't help but see it every time I sat at my desk. That black shiny Moleskine sketchbook was just pleading to be taken out for a stroll. I know it will sound very silly but I didn't want to use the Moleskine just as any other sketchbook. I wanted to save it for something special and not soil it's pages just by using it for any random scribblings. In the end, I decided it should be 'the' sketchbook that I take out with me when I start my plein air sketching, and that is what I did.


Wrapped up warm with overcoat, scarf and gloves, I put the Moleskine in my pocket along with a couple of fountain pens, Aquabrush and mechanical pencil. I left the house and walked off towards the village centre. Ten minutes later I found myself sitting on a bench across the road from the War Memorial, which was a big relief because I hadn't even realised I was missing!! I removed my gloves, fired off a reference shot with my compact camera, and took out the fountain pen loaded with Sepia ink. I started to sketch but nothing happened so I took out my Moleskine and opened it to a blank page. That wasn't difficult as they were all blank. 


The view before me was of the villages War Memorial. The local parish council make sure there are wreathes of Poppies on the ground all year round. As I sketched, a few couples walking dogs strolled past but after a casual  glance in my direction they paid me no heed and that is the 'fear' I need to conquer. I am a big fan of using water to bleed soluble ink to give tone so after I'd finished sketching with the pen I took out my Aquabrush to tease out some tone.


A few paces from the bench put me within sight of the village pub. This time I decided to sketch standing up, which is just as well as there was nowhere to sit. Because I was standing I chose the pencil. I haven't sketched like this before and found it challenging. For some reason I found perspective much harder to deal with than when working from a photograph. Around this time I was aware of how cold my hands were but I knew it was pointless attempting to draw with gloves on so hurried myself along as best I could. The sketch doesn't do justice to this fine old building but the exercise was about 'confidence' not 'art'.


On my way into the village I had noticed several 'emblems' carved in stone and set in walls, usually near a large gateway or entrance. They obviously tie all of the properties together in some way and I decided to sketch one on my way back home. They consist of a Snake or Serpent twisting around 5 arrows. A trip to the library is called for to find out their significance.


As I walked home I reflected on the Moleskine and confess to being a little disappointed. My 2B pencil took well but I find the paper a little too waxy for the fountain pen and waterbrush. It worked, but not as well as I would have hoped. Still, it's early days and my Moleskine has a lot more outing's in store for it, so we'll see how we get on. Today's brief 'sketching walk' was the first of many. ;-)





32 comments:

  1. So good that you have overcome your fear, John! And lovely sketches to show! And you tell a good story, lovely post! :)

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  2. ... good for you john ..first pages of many ..fingerless gloves are good :)

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  3. Wonderful sketches. Starting a new sketchbook is difficult, but also fantastic!
    Happy Drawing.

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  4. I think your sketches are super John! Like Jane,I was going to suggest fingerless gloves too, I use them for painting. Your trip sounds wonderful, and it was great to see subjects I recognised. Here's to many more plein air outings, and I look forward to seeing your sketch book full when next we meet. :)

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  5. Ahh! finally your conquering your doubts and fears.. Your post gave me a smile too, we all have that same feeling with a brand new sketchpad or paper..
    now get out there and do it again and again.. .. pretty soon you'll be known as "'that artist guy" .. Good for you! BJ

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  6. Sounds like such an awesome time. :) And your sketches are fantastic John. I've been eyeing a moleskin sketchbook for quite some time myself.

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  7. Thank you Judy. My ultimate goal is to sit and paint so I have a way to go yet. lol

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  8. Fingerless gloves is a great idea Jane. Thank you very much.

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  9. Thank you Nora. I'm not up to sketching while walking yet but one day. lol.

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  10. Ingrid, I am so pleased that you recognise those places. I'd hoped you might. Can't wait to let you see my book in person. ;-)

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  11. Yes, BJ, I'm finally attacking my gremlins. I won't ever be known as 'that' artist, but thank you for saying so. ;-)

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  12. It was a great time Crystal, despite being brief. If you get a Moleskine I'd like to hear what you think of it. Thanks for your lovely comment.

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  13. Bravo for you John, it isn't bad being out there with the people. Your sketches are wonderful and yes the Moleskine was a disappointment to me as well. Doesn't handle wet washes. Check out Hudson Valley Sketches on my blog, there is another journal everyone is raving about.

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  14. A new year with new challenges! Your sketches are beautiful. There are fingerless gloves for sale. Maybe that's an idea for your cold hands.

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  15. Well done for getting out there and sketching. The top one is great!

    FYI my opinion on moleskins can be found on these posts, although the titles may give it away.

    http://artofanomad.blogspot.com/2010/07/i-hate-my-moleskin.html

    http://artofanomad.blogspot.com/2010/09/i-hate-my-moleskin-2.html

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  16. Thank you Joan - it wasn't so bad. I'll check out that other journal on your blog.

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  17. Thank you very much Renske, I appreciate it. I think I'll getting some fingerless gloves very soon.

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  18. I absolutely LOVE looking at your sketches John. More please!!
    I was very disappointed with my Moleskine sketchbook and wondered what on earth all the fuss was about. To me, the paper isn't good at all. But, each to their own. I have yet to find one I really like but the Moleskine has to be the one I got on with the least.

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  19. Sue, now you tell me!!! LOL. I wish I'd have seen those posts before I bought my Moleskine. ;-)

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  20. Thank you Sandra, you always make me feel so good about my art. I guess it's difficult to get a paper that is equally good with pen, pencil and washes - I guess we just have to keep looking. lol.

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  21. Wonderful sketches, John! Sounds like you had a terrific day...I've never done plein aire but it sounds great (in the Springtime ! LOL) I look forward to your next piece!!

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  22. Thank you very much Hilda. I agree about the Springtime. Now isn't the best time to start plein air but I didn't want to lose any of my determination by waiting. Roll on warmer days. ;-)

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  23. Congrats on getting out there and overcoming your fear!
    The resultant sketches are lovely. Hope you didn't get too cold.
    Could the snake and arrows be a family crest?

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  24. Thank you Pat. And YES, you're spot on. I've found the crest in an Heraldic encyclopaedia and the name fits with a number of other things in the village. Looks as if the entire area was once owned by one person.

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  25. As a very good plein air artist told me, "your instincts are good, trust them". I think anything is scary the first time, but gets easier as we prevail. Love your efforts.

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  26. Thank you very much Trudy, I appreciate it. And thank you for visiting.

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  27. a wonderful post! i can so relate! and your sketches are amazing!! so looking forward to seeing more!

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  28. You know it is funny John i have the same 'respect' for my Moleskin...it has to be used for something special, not just some ugly scribbling :-)
    Great sketching in the town!

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  29. Hi Suz, thank you so much for such a lovely comment. I really appreciate it.

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  30. Hi Jane. Thank goodness ... I was beginning to think I must be strange. lol. It's disappointing that it doesn't take water too well but I'll use it for pen and pencil so no problem. ;-)

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  31. Hi John.
    Lovely sketches, I like them all. Well done and all the best.
    Vic.

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    1. Hi Vic. Thank you - it's very much appreciated.
      John

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