Art: Drawing practice (for paint cravings)

A collage of recent sketches of boats I’ve seen in recent months, after a long break from drawing

I AM DRAWING – BY HAND! ON PAPER! It has been a while since I’ve done this… I drew often in childhood, and regularly sketched for architecture school in my late teens and early 20s, but after leaving architecture professionally, I stopped drawing regularly. Drawing is slow and thoughtful, and I have too often struggled with long hours and demanding work – drawing felt like something I didn’t have time for. Photography, especially once I started carrying a small camera in my purse, was more accessible – and FASTER. Drawing fell by the wayside, a cost of my non-creative profession.

I never gave up drawing entirely: I still enjoy drawing in flurries, especially when I want to really take my time to enjoy studying things. I’ll take a new sketchbook to a museum, sketch sculptures for a day or two, and then set it aside until the mood strikes again.

I’m drawing again this month, because I’ve been suffering from paint lust. In my fantasies, I’m about to make a series of really great gouache representational paintings, and I’ll need to lay out some great drawings and buy some gouache to make this happen. This is an outrageous fantasy: I have been making primarily abstract (non-representational) drawings and paintings since 2012, so I am out of practice in representational (representing the shape of real world things) drawing. Plus, I have never been IN practice with gouache: I have just one, small notebook with abstract or patterned gouache multimedia sketches.

This fantasy is grandiose, and so I’m putting conditions on it, such as: I can’t buy gouache until I make a representational gouache painting with my existing little set of 5 colors FIRST.

And I can’t make a representational painting without a drawing to guide me, and so this is why the sketches at the top of the page exist. I need the practice. Badly. This is a fun prerequisite, even if I am clumsy and using a museum-gift-shop pencil with multiple leads.

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There is more to this plan: I can’t just buy any paint, because gouache paintings are delicate (there is no natural seal against moisture, abrasion, or UV light, like traditionally varnished oils or acrylics have), and I insist on using permanent, artist-grade paints. Gouache has often been used for commercial art with a short lifespan, and so many colorful gouaches aren’t made with stable, long-lasting pigments.

I’ve done my research, ruled out familiar brands with unstable pigments, and have a surprise choice in mind (German!?!), but… I don’t want to write about that until I’m actually painting with that product. So, hopefully I’ll get some more drawings in, and knock out at least one cheerful little painting before money flies out of my wallet for this.

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