I just spent a lot of the morning making a couple of bad drawings bad drawings. I hate when that happens. It’s frustrating. The Law of Averages says that it’s inevitable, says that they can’t all be good, but I sure want them to be. Working on something that comes out dull and uninspired is a downer. But that’s life. Sometimes things don’t work out well as I expect.

I finished a large painting a couple of days earlier. That often makes figuring out what to do next a little bit harder. Even more so since I’m not even sure how the painting came out. It’s a bit of a mystery to me. It’s one of the large acrylic paintings that I’ve been doing this past year but I don’t think I ever really got a feel for this one. Large and in acrylic is a new way of painting for me but I think with the others I’ve done I knew the direction I was going in a bit more. It’s strange because I look at it and wonder what I was thinking. Not in a bad way but almost in a way as if it was painted by someone other than me. I’m oddly disconnected from it.

I didn’t think the figuring out what to do after finishing a large painting part was going to be a problem this time. I was planning on trying out some new magic markers. After writing a previous blog about how I wanted some more magic markers even though I didn’t know what I was going to do with them I actually got more markers. I ordered some ShinHan Touch markers. They are Korean markers that are much like the Japanese Copic markers but cheaper. They were on sale at Dick Blick for only $2.19 a marker compared to $4.87 per Copic marker. So I bought nine markers in various shades of blue. Plus one Copic Sketch marker just to try out. Those ones have a flexible brush-like tip compared to a regular stiff marker tip. I liked it.

Why did I only get blue ones? I wanted to limit my color palette in hopes of better figuring out how to best draw with them. Yet, I wanted a variety of blues with which to draw with. I love color and I really love working with color but when trying a new medium I find it best to start without color. Monochrome means no real color choices. Drawing in all blue can look like there is a lot of color but it’s no different than drawing in all gray as with a pencil. Even drawing in two colors, say blue and yellow, is not really dealing with color as they can be just substitutes for black and white.

Last night I actually made a couple of nice drawings with the markers. I didn’t draw anything new but looked through my library of the scans of my pencil drawings to search for an image I wanted to use. I have done a lot of drawings and a lot of them have never been turned into anything final. So when I want to do something, like figure out a new marker technique, I can go through my drawings, pick one out, use my printer to print it onto a sheet of drawing paper, and then draw right on top of it using it as I would any under-drawing. That way I can concentrate on technique and not have to come up with an image.

The marker drawings I made are small. They are on five by seven inch paper. I didn’t want to go any larger because, in the past, I’ve had no luck finding a finishing technique with markers at large sizes. Marker nibs are small and therefore work best for small drawings. With painting I can scale up my image and choose a larger brush that’s appropriate for the finished size I’d be working at. I can’t do that with markers. They’re generally one size fits all.

I was happy with the two drawings I made last night The key to the technique was a white charcoal pencil. I liked the blues but the drawing didn’t come alive for me until I figured out to go back into it and add highlights and work some of the tones back lighter with a white charcoal pencil. I hadn’t even thought of that when I started.

I continued this morning with a couple more drawings done in the same technique. They came out uninspired and dull. In one case because the scale was wrong. Like I said I was working at a small size but the image was a close up. Too close and too many large open areas. Markers don’t do particularly well with large open areas. It’s not paint which can be laid down with a variety of techniques or laid down with such a thickness that it becomes an object. A large area of marker on paper is just a thin layer pigment. No brush strokes and no presence. Therefore the lesson of marker drawing is to keep the lever of detail high so there are not large open areas.

The second drawing I made today had a different problem. In hindsight it seems to be a dull drawing. The old garbage-in-garbage-out rule. It’s not a terrible image it’s just a bit unresolved and unfocused. I managed to do a good job with the technique but technique can’t save an uninspired drawing. I didn’t really notice it was unfocused when I picked it or thought I could focus it some more but in the end it is a disappointment. And that makes for a disappointing day.

It is amazing how when the creative juices aren’t flowing things feel like they’re crashing down. Especially when I’m still working on things and they’re just not coming out right. Being un-creatively creative make the whole day dull and lifeless. I’m glad most days aren’t like that.