This post features a quick process outline to share a new drawing in one of my sketchbooks that I did recently. This sketch is on book pages that I gessoed, and the words on the right page are showing through from the text underneath: “the time in silence is timeless.” I think that can be interpreted a few ways, but without getting too much into that, overall, I saw it as a calling to take the time to sketch on these pages. It was good for me in that way, and I’m glad I did. It was the perfect opportunity to spend some time in order to silence the noise and chaos a bit.
For this drawing, I worked mainly with a mix of water-soluble graphite and graphite pencil. I also used acrylic to add some form and details in areas, and to cover larger areas with textured strokes. There are several layers in this sketch, mostly added with a few sable brushes in thin veils. The graphite was first applied in a loose and fluid way using water to vary the value and transparency. What I was going for with the initial lay-in was a flow across the two pages that felt like how the phrase on the right page might feel. With these found phrase sketchbooks, I often use the phrase I find as the prompt for what I might sketch.
I was seeing faces right away in places all over in this abstract. I started to add marks as indications for some of the areas where I saw the faces that were the most distinct to me, and then slowly built more in as I spent more time with the drawing and many other faces started to reveal themselves. These marks I added were much like the initial abstract – loose and fluid – but on a smaller scale to retain the flow of the abstract while indicating the smaller features and forms.
This is really how I tend to work a lot in much of my paintings and drawings, where the build-up of the forms play off of other forms that came before, and in the case of this drawing, pretty soon, there were many faces overlapping and morphing together on the pages.
After building up these forms, I wanted to go back in to some areas and add details. Some details were in order to refine the features a bit, and some details work to connect areas together while indicating a sense of movement and flow. A lot of the painting at this stage was about losing and finding in order to find an overall balance to the composition and retain the flow of the underlying abstract. I added thin translucent layers of white acrylic to push some of the features into a more atmospheric feel, and the graphite pencil gave me a more detailed and grittier feel due to it picking up the striations and texture of the gessoed page.
Overall, it was time well-spent experimenting with the combination of dry and wet media, depicting flow and forms, and as I mentioned above, to take some time to silence the noise. The phrase “the time in silence is timeless”, to me, signifies that if we take the time to regroup, connect, and be in the moment with our art, the timeless part is the result of that. Not just that the art piece itself transcends time and space (which is fantastic in and of itself), but there are the positive effects that spending time doing something like this – a quiet moment of sketching – can have on our own well-being as well as on the well-being of others around us.
If you’re interested in seeing other sketches with found phrases from book pages that I’ve done, I’ve posted a few more articles on Muddy Colors featuring some of them. Just click here and here to see more if you’d like.