Saturday, 2 July 2011

Moleskine Sketch Book - and the art of visual note taking. Part 1.

                                        I love my Moleskine Sketch Book.
I love the weight of it in my hand. I love the hard back. I love the rounded edges to the pages. I love the thickness of the paper.  I love the shape of the pages, and the wide format when using the double spread. I REALLY love the long format when I turn it round. I love the elastic strap that holds it closed. I love the little flap at the back - like a miniature filing system, just in case you pick up a post card you like at a gallery.. Or maybe to put your train ticket in when you're drawing on location..? The Moleskine book has a sense of history, of romance and nostalgia, and demands a loyalty from the owner which it is impossible not to supply.

 My book was given to me by my friend Ger, with the terrible words, I want to see that filled. Uh-oh. There's nothing worse than a Blank Page, and a whole book of them? Oh yikes. Add an INSTRUCTION to that mix and the gloom descends... Nevertheless, my instruction was clear. I naively thought (to myself) I'd fill it by Christmas. Luckily, I didn't specify which Christmas that might be. So far, there have been two since she gave it to me, but they come around..

Pages from my Moleskine book, Onion and Garlic, cross-hatching in pen. Julie Douglas

This doesn't mean that filling the book has become a chore - far from it. The Moleskine paper is suitable for pencil, and any dry media, pen, ink and water colour, and it is thick and creamy. Its a luxury to use, so instead of using it for every little drawing or thumb-nail I need to work on, I choose to use it when I want the feel of that lovely paper. The result is a slow progression through the pages so that it has become a diary and a precious place of observation. A series of studies, some time consuming (the pages above took a couple of hours), some very quick. It has become, and is still becoming, a record of time, notations of seasons, a set of individual observations. When I look at a drawing I can remember where I was when I did it, and sometimes even what was on the radio at the time. I recall the room, the people I was with, many many details.

Little Pumpkin, Water Colour, Julie Douglas
By half way into a book, a rhythm is set, a personality has formed and the impression is that subjects or themes were decided from the offset, but they rarely are. By the end of the book it will look like a Complete Thing in itself, as if I achieved what I set out to do. It will look complete, like the sum of a journey. But that's not the way these things are done. They evolve,  if things aren't forced. If we go with the flow, relax and follow our own intuition, in retrospect the steps will look like there had been a path. But there was not. Instead, there was an easy Flow. The end of the book doesn't mean its finished. It only means that I ran out of paper. And need a new book.

Heels. Pen, Julie Douglas

Next Up - Portfolio Course, Oils, Water Colour, Drawing, Portrait workshop, EVERYTHING!
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