Friday, March 1, 2013

Tourist in my town: on panels in a sketchbook

Yesterday Danny Gregory's book The Illustrated Journey arrived on my doorstep.  So instead of painting last night (which I'd intended to do) I spent the evening devouring it's contents.

It's not the first time I'd noticed this technique but I was struck by the way some artists use panels in their sketchbooks. I'd never tried it before and started getting itchy feet about it. So I carved out a small slice of 'me time' this morning and took the train to the city to be a tourist in my own town.

Click on image to enlarge

At first I thought I'd go to Fed Square but then I remembered doing this drawing and how comfortable it was to sit at the window in Journal cafe (and how nice the coffee is there) so I decided if that same window table was free, that would be the single location I would draw from. And it was my lucky day.

I drew the boxes first, fairly randomly, but I did measure the right-hand-side boxes against the business card first (placing it on the upper right then taking it away) because I already knew I wanted to collage it onto the page.

I had no idea what I would draw so I started with the upper left box and drew the retro seat opposite me. My coffee arrived next so I drew that. Then I thought I'd better start on the big box in case I ran out of steam. That's the one I enjoyed drawing the most. The bottom right box shows that I ordered a tea next (as I was still drawing after I'd finished my coffee and toast). There are two other boxes with street views and one showing a shelf of spirits behind the bar.


Then I added colour.

It was my first attempt at this way of structuring a page and I was pleased with the result. It was also one of the most relaxing sketching experiences I've had. I think having the boxes there took the pressure off trying to make only one great sketch. If I stuffed up one box, it didn't matter, I had more. And my mission was to fill them. As a self-imposed limitation, it worked for me.

I also like the storytelling possibilities of this kind of page layout. Not in the sense of a chronological narrative, comic-style, but in a more implicit way. The juxtaposition of images tells the story of my morning, almost inadvertently. And the text in the top right gives you an idea of my soundtrack as I was drawing. This was really, really fun and I can't wait to try it again.

Click on image to enlarge

Afterwards I had a short amount of time before my train departed so I imposed another limitation. What could I achieve in 5 minutes? This removed the perfection impulse too.

Flinders Street Station

I used a new Faber-Castell PITT artist pen I bought this morning (so much for my 'no new art supplies' vow) but the colour on the barrel says 'sanguine'. How can you pass that up?

Showing, once again, my strange habit of drawing on the right-hand-side first