Tricia (Travels Through My Lens) and I were on Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands early in our marriage. It was there that I did my first real sketch. Prior to Tricia’s encouragement most all of the input from others as well as my own insecurities convinced me that I was “not artistic,” a sentiment shared by many. At a store on Orcas I bought a sketching pencil and a newsprint pad.
What I wanted to do is paint, that meant oil paints, but Tricia is pretty sensitive to smells and we lived in a small space – oil paints and their accoutrements can be quite strong – so when I learned that acrylic paints could be used in much the same way, but without the offensive fragrances, it was perfect.
I watched Bob Ross, didn’t have the courage to take a class. I still want to paint everything from distant to near. I enjoyed it, got a bit better, then found I liked large canvases. Here are two early acrylics – Freeway done in 1990, Kingdome was done a bit later. Both are 48×36”
In the mid-90’s I started traveling around the world as a seminar speaker, I wanted to start doing art as I went, even then I was obsessed to packing light, so watercolors made sense. My kit was a 3.5×5.5” Moleskine watercolor sketchbook and a Windsor & Newton pocket pallet, I used the tiny brush that came with the set.
Watercolor frustrated me so. With Acrylics I could paint over mistakes and no one knew the difference, BUT… watercolor is far less forgiving and of course transparent; painting over mistakes just makes mud. I remember the day I gave them up for many years. I was at Circular Quay near the Sydney Opera House sketching the promontory across the water, the longer I painted the worse it looked, like mud. I put the paints away for a few years after that.
Ink sketching took the place of painting, I quite liked it and produced some decent pieces. Then one day I learned about ink-and-wash, using watercolor to add color to ink sketches – theTravelsketcher was born. I still did acrylic now and then, but carried my sketchpad, watercolors, and Micron pens; my fountain pens would come later.
In 2020 two events prompted a re-evaluation of what I was doing. In June my step-mother-in-law passed away. She was an oil painter, and like most artists had a compulsion to accumulate finished pieces and art supplies. It fell on family to sort and disperse it all, not fun. Then of course 2020 started with our planned move to France being usurped by a virus.
Nagged by the question, “where am I going to store this?” I pretty much stopped painting with acrylics. Even looking at the growing pile of sketchpads was unnerving, I didn’t want my kids to have to sort through a huge pile when I am gone.
Then I discovered Procreate and iPad, storage on the cloud doesn’t take up space in a storage facility, and a few taps on the screen deletes anything that is not great. Once I got over the baseless insecurity that it was “not real art,” bought a new iPad and Apple Pencil, installed the Procreate app – I was off on une grande aventure de l’art . It has been amazing. I still do sketchbooks, thanks to the wisdom of my daughter which I blogged about earlier, but I really love the iPad and all of the amazing art I am trying.
Here are a few from this week.