Tuesday 12 February 2008

31st December

DP 365

Well, what can I say about the final envelope? Drawing this was tough because I was filled with a heady mix of relief, sadness, elation and anxiety that made focusing on drawing quite hard. Plus I've never found finishing things easy, so I put this one off until I couldn't avoid it any more.

At first I thought that I should end with something spectacular but in the end, something very simple seemed more apt. After all, the whole point of the Diary Project is that all our journeys with drawing are a work in progress and an endless acceptance of where we are right now.

I know that many people have been inspired by this project and to you, and everyone else, I have only five words to say:


If I can do it, so can you...

It doesn't have to be perfect, indeed, I've found during this year that the quest for perfection is the enemy of drawing. Instead, it just needs to be something that comes from you.

Posted: 11.53pm on 31.12.07
Returned: 4.1.08

30th December

DP 364

I know that a lot of people work with watercolour by drawing in pen or pencil first and then filling it in with colour but I seem to prefer doing it the other way around. I like to lay down the colour first and then add detailing in pen. For this drawing, a few lines of coloured pen seemed a much more subtle and appropriate choice than the harshness of black ink.

Posted: 11.55pm on 30.12.07
Returned: 2.1.07

29th December

DP 363

Oooh, look at that red!

I love this drawing; the simplicity and the colour make me very happy and I may have to do a larger version just for myself. I don't bother framing and displaying all that much of my work, although there's still a fair amount of it around the house, but sometimes I make something that I know I want to keep and this is definitely one of those. Of course, I know that I'll probably never be able to capture the same energy and feeling but I don't mind giving it a go. I never do exact copies of things but I've always worked in series so making different versions of things doesn't bother me.

Posted: 11.55pm on 29.12.07
Returned: 2.1.07

28th December

DP 362

Black ink worked into a slightly wet watercolour background. I am still pleasantly surprised by the intensity of colour from this Sakura travel set of watercolours. I've avoided watercolours, particularly the pan sort, for many years because in the past I'd found them wishy-washy and hard to use but now I'm having to rethink that attitude.

Posted: 11.53pm on 28.12.07
Returned: 2.1.08

27th December

DP 361

Drawn from life, this is one of the beautiful thistles that Camilla bought me for my birthday. She said that she got them because they reminded her of the Diary Project drawings, so it seemed only right for them to become a part of it.

Posted: 11.53pm on 27.12.07
Returned: 31.12.07

26th December

DP 360

I had the sudden urge to draw in coloured pen. It was something I hadn't done for a while so I had to hunt the house for my set of fine-nibbed coloured pens. I swear my art materials hide themselves when I'm not looking!

Posted: 11.05pm on 26.12.07
Returned: 29.12.07

25th December

DP 359

I found it very hard to draw on 'significant days' because I always wanted to do something extra special. I usually ended up having to let go of that feeling completely before I could manage to draw at all and this day was no exception.

Posted: 11.26pm on 25.12.07
Returned: 29.12.07

24th December

DP 358

I've drawn a lot of these sort of 'hovering in space' objects over the course of The Diary Project. Part of me likes the abstract quality of floating objects on or slightly above the page but looking at them now, I wonder if I need to anchor my drawings more.

Posted: 9.50pm on 24.12.07
Returned: 29.12.07


Sorry for the huge delay in updating this, folks. Unfortunately my son has been quite ill since before Christmas so although I successfully completed The Diary Project, I haven't had the time or energy to write up the last 8 envelopes. I'm hoping to get it completed over the next few days though.

Saturday 29 December 2007

23rd December

DP 357

Wetting the paper afterwards gives a very different look to working directly onto wet paper. With wet paper, the line will spread and blur in ways that you can't control and the black ink will often separate into its constitute colours. Working with a wet brush over an existing line results in more controllable washes of soft grey (or purple depending on the kind of ink used in the black pen) surrounding a still black line.

Posted: 11.53pm on 23.12.07
Returned: 27.12.07

22nd December

DP 356

I've noticed that when I'm struggling with inspiration, I often fall back into working wet into wet. It's such an easy and comfortable aesthetic for me. The centre of these drawings were worked in pen on small sections of wet paper while the outer lines were drawn on the surrounding area which was mostly dry. I like the combination of blurred and sharp lines.

Posted: 11.46pm on 22.12.07
Returned: 27.12.07

21st December

DP 355

Ah, now this one is definitely gouache paint over ink pen outlines. I know this because I tested it several times with watercolour paint but it was always too patchy so I switched to gouache, which gives a lovely flat matte finish. Isn't it amazing how paints, which generally all start out with exactly the same pigments, end up with such very different qualities and uses.

Posted: 11.55pm on 21.12.07
Returned: 27.12.07

20th December

DP 354

I not sure what this was drawn with; the grey could be gouache or ink but I seem to recall that it was watercolour paint. I've arbitrarily decided that it still counts as a drawing as long as there's some pen on there too. Last night I was working in watercolour again and found that I couldn't bring myself to post an envelope that only had paint on, I had to do another one that also had pen - yet another hidden rule or bias that I didn't know I had. Actually, it's always baffled me why gouache or watercolour is considered painting but ink, even when you put it on with a brush, comes under the heading of drawing. There's probably some historical reason for this but it's always struck me as a bit illogical.

Posted: 11.54pm on 20.12.07
Returned: 22.12.07

19th December

DP 353

A first experiment using watercolour on the envelopes. I was surprised at how well it went on, the paper didn't buckle nearly as much as I'd expected.

I worked wet into wet on this drawing, laying down a random shape using the blue watercolour and then drawing over it with pen while it was still wet. I've discovered that using a thicker nibbed pen works best when working onto wet paper - very thin ink lines just disappear almost completely as the ink spreads and forms a wash.

Posted: 11.56pm on 19.12.07
Returned: 21.12.07

18th December

DP 352

Another experiment with the Sakura glaze pens. This time I drew the forms in white glaze pen before going over them with red Inktense pencil. I didn't want to wet the pencil so I ended up going over the pencil several times to deepen and intensify the colour. One of the nice things about the glaze pens is the embossed quality they have, it makes filling in the spaces between lines a lot easier.

Posted: 11.54pm on 18.12.07
Returned: 21.12.07

17th December

DP 351

More fun with new art materials; this was drawn with the new set of Sakura glaze pens that I got for my birthday. I laid down the little dashes with green and blue glaze pens and then when they'd dried, I went over them with a blue Inktense pencil, which I then wet to form a wash. I wasn't originally going to wet the pencil because I liked the little white 'shadows' that formed around the raised glaze pen lines. However, the pencil had also highlighted the internal edge of the envelope, which left an unattractive line that I needed to disguise. If I use this technique again, I'll start the drawing in the middle of the envelope!

Posted: 11.37pm on 17.12.07
Returned: 20.12.07

Friday 28 December 2007

16th December

DP 350

This was drawn with the finest pen I own - a Sakura Micron ink pen with a 0.25mm nib. The Diary Project has been a great justification for indulging my pen habit, I guess I'll have to come up with a new excuse next year!

Posted: 11.56pm on 16.12.07
Returned: 18.12.07

15th December

DP 349

Even my 40th birthday party couldn't stop The Diary Project!

I tried out some of the Derwent metallic pencils that I got as a birthday present in the centre of this drawing.

Posted: approximately 11.30pm on 15.12.07
Returned: 18.12.07

14th December

DP 348

I tried to draw the spirals over each of these grey lines in a single continuous line but I only managed it on one of the three.

Posted: 11.29pm on 14.12.07
Returned: 18.12.07

13th December

DP 347

Once, when I was a toddler, my parents realised with horror that I had vanished. They searched the house and garden with an increasing sense of panic. Eventually they found me at the bottom of the garden, completely hidden in the rows of peas: I had been studiously ignoring all their frantic shouting because I was busy surreptitiously stuffing myself full of peas! I don't remember this at all but I can completely believe it because I still love fresh peapods.

Posted: 11.58pm on 13.12.07
Returned: 15.12.07

12th December

DP 346

I loved this drawing when I did it and now that it's returned, I'm amused at the way the postal service has altered it with a suitably appropriate smudgy black postmark.

Posted: 8.39pm on 12.12.07
Returned: 17.12.07

11th December

DP 345

Adding the two thin lines on either side completed the drawing for me: often it's the simplest line that finishes it.

Posted: 11.52pm on 11.12.07
Returned: 15.12.07

10th December

DP 344

Walking home on a darkening December day, I took photograph after photograph of chestnuts hanging ponderously on bare thin branches.

Posted: 11.42pm on 10.12.07
Returned: 13.12.07

9th December

DP 343

Even this late in the project, I'm still trying out new materials and techniques. This drawing was made with grey acrylic ink poured in a random shape onto the envelope and then drawn over in pen. It was the first time I've used acrylic ink in the drawings and I liked its matte flatness.

The pen marks were directly inspired by mattress stitch, a stitch that never fails to excite and delight me: one of these days, I must learn how to sew it!

Posted: 11.55pm on 9.12.07
Returned: 12.12.07

8th December

DP 342

I like the irregularity of these looped, feathered lines; it would be a boring drawing for me if they were all ordered and identically angled.

Posted: 11.54pm on 8.12.07
Returned: 12.12.07

7th December

DP 341

What on earth's going on with those weird little nodules? I think there's something a bit science fiction about this drawing.

Posted; 10.29m on 7.12.07
Returned: 10.12.07

6th December

DP 340

I really let rip with this one, this was fingerpainted with ink from the Pentel Colour Brush. I used a bit of scrap paper as a palette, squeezed out a pool of ink and then just got stuck in with my index finger. So much fun! When it was dry, I added the fine lines with a pen to add a bit more definition.

Posted: 11.53pm on 6.12.07
Returned: 10.12.07

5th December

DP 339

I'm still loving these little dots on lines, it's something I've come back to time and again in the drawings. It's been very interesting learning so much more about my own drawing and discovering that I really do have my own style.

Posted: 11.56pm on 5.12.07
Returned: 8.12.07

4th December

DP 338

I think I'd like to make this in silver wire, it would make a good brooch or earrings. I used to try to keep my different practices separate but it doesn't really work. I'm starting to accept that it's probably pointless to even try - it's all coming from the same source after all. The trick is not to pretend that I don't do different things but just to get better at recognising whether an idea or image wants to be sculpture, performance, a drawing or jewellery.

Posted: 11.45pm on 4.12.07
Returned: 7.12.07

3rd December

DP 337

The material and tools you use make a big difference to the way you draw. I've had very little success achieving fine controlled lines with a large brush pen like the Pentel Colour Brush that I used here. Of course, that might just be my hand - other artists may be able to coax fine detail out of this pen! But in my experience, you can get some fine lines but eventually the brush will blot and splodge because you're trying to use it in a way that isn't right for it: I've found that this particular tool works best when you drew quickly, lightly and with confidence.

If you fight what a drawing instrument wants to do, you'll just end up frustrated and cross (and possibly with a ruined tool). Of course, you should always experiment and push yourself and your materials but sometimes you have to recognise the essential nature of a medium. For example, despite the fact that I love charcoal as a drawing medium, it wasn't suited to this project at all. Even if I'd sprayed it with fixative, charcoal wouldn't have survived a trip through the post. Maybe I'll do a series of big charcoal drawings in January once the envelopes are finished: I'm certainly ready for a change of scale and medium now.

Posted: 11.54pm on 3.12.07
Returned: 6.12.07

2nd December

DP 336

This is quite a scratchy drawing but I think I was pretty content when I drew it; I was just in the mood for some scratchiness. I definitely have different aesthetic moods: some days I start out drawing in one way and just hate it and then I know that I need to switch my style or medium. If I had to draw in the same style everyday, I'd never have made it this far with the project.

Posted: 11.52pm on 2.12.07
Returned: 4.12.07

1st December

DP 335

I would never have had the confidence to do such an empty and simple drawing at the start of the project but I'm glad that I do now because I like this envelope very much.

Posted: 11.37pm on 1.12.07
Returned: 4.12.07

30th November

DP 334

This chain was drawn from my head but I think it's obviously a very damaged metal one, although I suppose it could be a particularly battered paper one.

Posted: 10.09pm on 30.11.07
Returned: 3.12.07

29th November

DP 333

I had thought I might cover the whole envelope but this seemed like enough. Oh OK, I got bored* - it happens occasionally if you're daft enough to draw 333 envelopes in a row!

* If I'd really thought it needed more, I'd have kept drawing.

Posted: 11.20pm on 29.11.07
Returned: 1.12.07

28th November

DP 332

These make me think of rows of eggs on shelves, maybe in a museum display. I've always loved museums and the idea of collecting plays a big part in my work. The Diary Project is also a museum of sorts, I suppose.

Posted: 10.37pm on 28.11.07
Returned: 1.12.07

27th November

DP 331

This was the first envelope I drew with my new Sakura glaze pen. It doesn't show up clearly on the scan but this style of pen is so highly glossy that it still looks wet even when it's dry. I don't know how archival it is but since the envelopes definitely aren't archival, I guess it doesn't matter too much.

Posted: 11.53pm on 27.11.07
Returned: 30.11.07

26th November

DP 330

This makes me think of glamorous pouting women with swooshy ostrich feather fans.

Posted: 11.55pm on 26.11.07
Returned: 29.11.07

25th November

DP 329

This was one of the heaviest envelopes that I've done. I ended up putting two stamps on it, partly because I was worried about the weight but also because I was feeling slightly guilty about the envelope from the 20th November, which I forgot to stamp. Perhaps it was just a superstition need to appease the Post Office Gods!

Posted: 11.47pm on 25.11.07
Returned: 27.11.07

24th November

DP 328

I wonder if I will make any sculptures from the drawings I have done this year? This looks very much like something that might become 'real'. Of course, drawings are also real but sculptures are just more real for me.

Posted: 11.55pm on 24.11.07
Returned: 27.11.07

23rd November

DP 327

Although they could just as easily be tiny, beaded things, in my head these are enormous sculptures that tower over people. It's the sort of art I have absolutely no interest in making but it's still nice to consider it sometimes.

Posted: 9.50pm on 23.11.07
Returned: 26.11.07

22nd November

DP 326

I'm still not sure about the crimson in this drawing.

Posted: 11.55pm on 22.11.07
Returned: 26.11.07

Thursday 27 December 2007

21st November

DP 325

This is one of the drawings from The Diary Project that I'd love to make into a limited edition print, if I had access to the equipment to do so. I'm considering investing in a little Gocco machine or some screenprinting equipment. I do know how to screenprint (although I haven't done much of it) but I don't know how complicated and expensive it would be to do at home.

Posted: 11.25pm on 21.11.07
Returned: 24.11.07

20th November

DP 324

This envelope was notable for being the one I forgot to put a stamp on! Surprisingly, the Post Office delivered it without demanding extra postage.

Posted: 9.53pm on 20.11.07
Returned: 22.11.07

19th November

DP 323

Drawing without outlines is a technique that I keep coming back to: I'm very intrigued by the way it works, especially on this envelope where I've combined the dots with outlines and dark shapes.

Posted: 10.49pm on 19.11.07
Returned: 22.11.07

Sunday 2 December 2007

18th November

DP 322

Loosely based on ash seeds, this now makes me think of whale tails and reminds me that seeing whales in the wild is one of my life's ambitions.

Posted: 11.49pm on 18.11.07
Returned: 20.11.07

17th November

DP 321

Another drawing done on acrylic gesso. I've been using gesso a lot lately because I've started an art journal. It's such versatile stuff: you can use it to tone things down or to stiffen your paper before you start or even to cover things completely when you want to start over.

Here the gesso is forming a subtly textured white ground for waterproof ink and my beloved Inktense pencils. Because the envelopes are so smooth and thin, it's nice to have something with a bit of a 'bite' to work on for a change. Drawing on thin, low quality paper every day for nearly a year has certainly given me a great appreciation for higher quality paper!

Posted: 11.43pm on 17.11.07
Returned: 20.11.07

16th November

DP 320

I'm enjoying having more than one red Inktense pencil to play with, this drawing uses two different reds that mix to form further shades once they're wet.

Posted: 11.55pm on 16.11.07
Returned: 19.11.07

15th November

DP 319

This reminds me of Rorschach drawings - what can you see?

Posted: 11.42pm on 15.11.07
Returned: 17.11.07

14th November

DP 318

This has a seaweedy kind of quality, although I started out thinking about ribbons and wrapped parcels. I've been fascinated by the idea of wrapping and binding for years and would like to make some sculptures that explore it but it's still not quite clear in my head yet. It takes a long time for my art to percolate, sometimes it can be years from the first inkling of an idea to the finished reality.

Posted: 8.46pm on 14.11.07
Returned: 16.11.07

13th November

DP 317

I was intrigued with the way the little blank circles create the illusion of holes punched through the paper. It's amazing how much pen and line can say and how different the results can be depending on which techniques you use. Although I've used other media in The Diary Project over the year, I keep coming back to pen because the simple complexity of it as a medium totally fascinates me.

Posted: 11.53pm on 13.11.07
Returned: 15.11.07

Friday 30 November 2007

12th November

DP 316

This is the closest I've come to missing the deadline. I actually had to run to the post box - see how dedicated I am to this project! Of course, if I'd been a bit more dedicated I wouldn't have left it so late before sorting out that day's envelope but I'd been writing a blog post for Up All Night Again and time got away from me.

Posted: 11.59pm on 12.11.07
Returned: 14.11.07