The thing about learning something new is that you just have to do it a lot. I’ve been experimenting with different types of paper, different types of media, trying to make myself use colour, and finding ways that feel right to me.
Ostensibly I’ve been researching the medieval Kingdom of Georgia, but it’s really been much more about putting paint down on a page and saying ‘oh no, that’s not what I meant at all’ to myself lots of times. Learning.
And I finished a mini sketchbook. (I made it myself from a bunch of different types of paper!)
Reference images: Tamar, St George, Oshki, Vardzia, Katskhi Pillar, Shatili, Caucasian Agama (1,2,3), Georgian horseman, Jvari Monastery, Georgian helmet, Gelati Monastery, Bolshoy Thach. Some of these links are sensible, others definitely don’t lead to the original image
Some overall thoughts
As always when learning something new, the quality varies hugely. I did put up every page even though my pride really didn’t want me to. Inconsistency is such a struggle, because you get so proud of how you learned to do something right! And then you do it again and it’s a disaster.
Patience and excitement go a long way, as does confidence that an error will not render the page worthless. So much of it is psychological, and panickily trying to ‘fix’ an error inevitably makes everything much worse. Staying calm is important, but so is caring about the end result. It takes effort to get things right, so I’ve got to stay engaged throughout the process.
I really like toned paper and white charcoal pencil, which is not that surprising. Way back when I first started to draw, my parents sent me art supplies for my birthday, including two toned paper sketchbooks and some black and white charcoal pencils (thank you!). I prefer the (less smudgy) black coloured pencil now, but it’s basically the same. And, actually, I’m still using the same white pencil, although not for much longer because it’s getting small. I’m going to start working more like this, even though it’s not bringing colour into things. I enjoy it so much that it seems silly that I’ve not been practising with it. And even without colour, the ability to use light and dark lines is pretty relevant to the directions I want to go in.
I like the watercolour on toned paper too. Probably because it helps me get a bit of unity in the piece, and keeps my colours from being too bright. I still have a long way to go on mixing colours to the value and hue that I want, and I’m considering just limiting myself to three or four colours (from my palette of 11) for a while, so I can get some of that unity and learn to mix things with fewer variables to worry about. I can always add extra colours over the top with pencil and crayon anyway.
Paper (and which side of it I’m working on) makes a big difference. I’m going to just let this go for now and keep using bits and bobs of all kinds of definitely-not-designed-for-watercolour-paper because I don’t need these sketches to look fancy, and I think there’s a hardiness you can learn from using whatever paper is around.
And now, onto another sketchbook!