End of!

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End of a year. End of a sketchbook. End of a blog.

As a new year begins to make its own unique personality and intentions known, it is time for me to say thank you and goodbye (insofar as it will now retire to a drawer of my art desk to live a quieter existence) to the red linen-bound Canson sketchbook that has accompanied me all over for the past 20 months. Through Ely, London, Paris, Zákynthos, Kent and the Isle of Wight, it has been a faithful friend, and though I have also filled a fair few pages of other sketchbooks in that time, it’s the Canson which tells the greatest part of my story, in a mostly chronological way. I’ve put together a mosaic of some of its pages …

… and you can view the rest of them on my Flickr account, at http://www.flickr.com/photos/rose_anglaise/sets/72157623159296678/

This little book, whose beautifully smooth watercolour paper will happily accept any and all media I care to throw at it, has been a revelation to me. Its patient pages have taught me to consider composition in my sketches, to mix all kinds of media and approach (pen, gouache, pasted paper, cut pages, graphite, coloured pencil, watercolour, wax pastel, acrylic and even gold leaf), to keep painting over my mistakes until I come up with something I like – and not to fret about it if I never reach the point of liking it at all, but simply to turn the page and not worry about what is incomplete or imperfect. It has also taught me to write in and among and alongside the drawings, however critical and self-conscious that makes me feel, and though it isn’t the first sketchbook I’ve kept, it is the first real sketchjournal. I bid it farewell with the following spread.

I’m telling myself that after this entry, I may well cease to post on this blog. I am trying to focus on the act and process of creating, this year, and the mental energy for reporting coherently and interestingly here on what I’m up to is simply not something I have in sufficient amounts. I have a lot of interests: I cannot really do justice to this blog space, and that bothers me, so it is one thing amongst several that I find I must strip away. Having struggled to participate fully these past couple of years as a member of the art and craft blogging community, I feel I may be better able to communicate by limiting myself to Flickr, Ravelry, Twitter, Facebook and a handful of online art forums – and of course, by commenting on others’ blogs when I can.

Thank you to everyone who has read me, especially if you’ve ever left a comment on something I’ve posted. I will continue to contemplate my navel, and, on occasion, sketch it; I just won’t beat myself up so much about not sending everyone regular newsletters to inform them just how much fluff is in there. 😉

Love, E-J Xx

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Journal 17.12.09 and some crochet

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Omphaloskepsis, the name of this blog, means gazing at one’s navel. What, then, would be the appropriate term for the contemplation of one’s feet? “Podiaskepsis”, perhaps?

This sketch was done to test the restricted watercolour selection I intend to stick with for the first half of 2010. The text creeping around the edges of the page is a personal joke: its brief reference to events of the past couple of days is a dig at my feeling that the written part of my journal tends to be banal, random and jumbled. You really have to be me to find it amusing, though.

And these are the Ladylike Lace Gloves (from Stitch ‘n Bitch: the Happy Hooker) that I’ve crocheted for a friend. This is my only handmade Christmas gift this year. Must try harder.

Wordless Wednesday #8

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Morning at the Museum

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Ely’s Stained Glass Museum is reached via a winding stone staircase which leads to the south triforium (elevated gallery) of the Cathedral. On a brilliantly sunny Saturday morning in mid December, it proved the perfect location for a sketcher on a mission to fill a couple of pages: out of the chill, far from the madding Christmas shoppers, with sunshine filtering through the coloured glass and enough space and solitude for unselfconscious drawing.

Halfway into my 75-minute visit, a carol service kicked off below; fittingly, “Hark! the Herald Angels Sing” was my accompaniment as I stood and sketched one of Edward Burne-Jones’s angel musicians.

The museum is essentially a one-room exhibition, but just the handful of subjects I chose to draw spanned the centuries, from 15th to 20th. I feel my visit was hugely enriched by having a sketchbook in tow: my eye lingered where it might not otherwise have done, enjoying the details of a few exhibits rather than pointlessly skimming them all. And even though, for me, God was not in those details, something pretty wonderful was.

It has been a long time since I last sketched in a museum, and I have Roz Stendahl to thank for the suggestion – and for so much else that’s influencing my sketchjournal lately.

My back pages

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This past week has seen me making a real effort to fill the remaining pages of my Canson sketchbook by the end of the year: I’ve covered seven pages in six days, two of them double-page spreads, and although not all of them are worth sharing, I’ve decided to stick a few of them up on my Flickr page for anyone who’s interested. As usual, you can find them in my Sketchjournal & Sketchbook set.

This double-page spread was done in pen and gouache with white gel pen, and shows you what I usually eat for breakfast (because, naturally, such questions drive the readers of my blog insane with curiosity.)

I am very motivated, as I continue to browse the pages of Danny Gregory’s An Illustrated Life: Drawing Inspiration from the Private Sketchbooks of Artists, Illustrators and Designers, by the possibility of taking my sketchjournalling to another level. My current Canson sketchbook has accompanied me for 18 months now, and has been a breakthrough book for me, its lovely smooth just-off-white paper accepting most kinds of media and allowing for a good amount of experimentation. It has seen me become far less concerned about making perfect pictures, more considerate of things like composition, mixing different media, incorporating written diary elements and – most importantly – just knuckling down to the act of sketching itself. I often cringe, though, at my own handwritten notes: the banality, the clumsiness, the obvious self-consciousness of them (… of me!). I’d like to do something about this, when I open my new sketchbook at the start of the new year.

Nine pages and counting.

If a picture paints a thousand words …

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… then this blog post is more than 2,000 words long. Go figure!

Sketchjournal page
Gouache & white gel pen in my Canson watercolour book
“I’ll Keep It With Mine”
Neocolor wax pastel on Daler Murano paper

Sketchjournal 19/11/09

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“Autumn wins you best by this, its mute appeal to sympathy for its decay.” ~ Robert Browning

Last night I finally sat down to sketch a leaf I picked up about a week ago. Pressed between the pages of my sketchjournal, it was temporarily spared the fate of crumbling into dust (the fate of so many other leaves my little girl and I have brought home over these autumn months) and I was able to paint it in light washes of gouache and, for the patches of green, Victorian Gold acrylic.

This shimmery gold-green paint was purchased on a recent trip to an art materials shop in Cambridge, where I also bought some coppery gold-leaf flakes. I plan to experiment with both of these in my oil pastel paintings.

We are on the cusp of that dark, dread season where the reds and russets and yellows of autumn are lost, crumbled, trampled, rotted and gone for another year. During the bleaker months, we are left to create our own colours, and must conjure shimmer and sparkle and light however we can.

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