Thursday, 17 November 2011

Art Every Day Month: Days 16 & 17

I've discovered a new medium yesterday, and I have a feeling that it might well become my favourite drawing/sketching medium: Rötel, or Sanguine. The English Sanguine refers to the "true" colour of blood (a reddish brown), while the German Rötel simply refers to the colour red (Rot). Rötel/Sanguine is made of clay and hematite, and has been used for drawing and sketching since the Renaissance. It usually needs to be fixed with a fixative, although the one I have is not a dry one, but an oil one, which means that doesn't smudge, and therefore needs no fixing. Which is perfect, as I always end up making a big mess when I use something like charcoal, and the only effect my fixative seems to have is to give me a headache.

I printed out an image of a typical Venetian scene from the internet yesterday, and did this Venice sketch on the train on my way to Swedish class. I really love sketching with this Sanguine pencil, it's so smooth and soft, and I simply adore the warm, earthy, reddish colour.

Today's sketch I did on the train again, after work. Two weeks ago, in my painting class, we talked about a painting we had made at least 10 years ago. It was based on a day in our life, with simple images or symbols of the things we had done that day. I have it in a sketchbook, and everytime I look at it, I still remember every detail of that day. So I decided to do a similar thing. I thought a double page of my sketchbook would be more than enough, but at the end, I needed two - it's because of my long commute everyday... So here's a typcial, ordinary day in my life, with me having to get up far too early, running to the train station to catch my train, commuting, working, and trying to sqeeze in far too many things in the evening once I'm finally home, and always ending up going to bed too late as a result. That strange image on top of the last page is me trying to take decent pictures to post on my blog without natural light, as it's already dark by the time I finally get home. I'm forever struggling to get the colours right, usually not very successfully. I've tried to scan the images, too, but our scanner at work does not seem to be very impressed by my creative outlet, and simply refuses to produce an acurate reproduction.

This one's my favourite of them all: it's when I arrive at the office at last, 2 1/2 hours after having got up, and finally getting my first cup of tea of the day.

I've done a lot of sketching these past 2 1/2 weeks, thanks to Art Every Day Month, and it's great, because really that is what I've wanted to do: draw and sketch more. I've always felt bad about my inadequate drawing/sketching skills, and it has influenced my creative confidence enormously. But today, I read something very comforting, in Victoria Finlay's wonderful book Colour. She tells the story, about Michelangelo visiting, according to his biographer Georgio Vasari, Titian in his studio, and although he liked Titian's way with colours, he commented afterwards that it was a pity that Titian had never learnt to draw well. It is, basically, about different approaches, about careful planning versus spontaneity. But to me, it is a reminder that we all have our strengths and weaknesses, and if we aren't so good at one thing, it doesn't mean that everything else we do is worthless because of that. Yes, I would love to be really, really good at drawing, but I probably just have to face the fact that it's not really my strength. And that is okay. There are very few who are real masters of all arts (and that includes not only amateurs). For the rest of us, well, we just have to focus on what we're good at, and keep practising what we're not so good at. Me, I'll definitely continue practise drawing and sketching. Especially now, that I discovered that wonderful Sanguine.


  1. Your sketches are amazing! I had never heard of that type of pencil - I want to try one now! Add that to my Christmas list...

  2. I love this idea! It would take a lot of courage for me to detail my day in the way that you did. It's really wonderful! I like the one of you holding the camera a lot. I've been thinking that one of these days I may imitate you and try the sketch a day. I know it would be such a boost to my drawing skills as well.

    Take care!
    - Heidi

  3. I loved your sketches. The colour adds charm.

  4. Your Venice sketch is amazing and I, too, like the earthy colors of that pencil. I LOVE the sketch of your day. I am really visual, so anything sketched out like this really speaks to me!

  5. I agree - the Venice sketch is really good. So many different perspectives going on, and the light/shadows in the windows and doorways - even the water has a different texture to it.

    Your "day in the life.." story board is just wonderful. You have such a hectic day and yet you seem to be smiling so much!! And I love what you've done with your hair - is that a new style? ;o)

  6. Wow you did this while on a train? Amazing! I really like the sketches in red rather than black. It adds a new dimension.