Stricture and Stasis

It became obvious to me a couple of months ago that my shoulder injury, nerve pain, and tendinitis was not going to allow me to do artwork on a regular basis. This has really been getting me down, because I read books on visual journalling where people sit for 3 to 5 hours and draw fantastic things in their sketchbooks, and I feel left out, incapable, the stricture of pain holding me in stasis.

While looking through my Stillman & Birn Gamma sketchbook, I realized that I had not done swatches for new art supplies. What heresy, I always do up little palette pages! So yesterday while we were watching golf on TV, I sat there with my portable desk and drew up swatch pages. I also finished the Winsor & Newton swatches I started ages ago, filling in the last four colours I purchased to bring them up to twenty-four.


I did swatches for eleven Winsor & Newton Gouache colours, and swatches for forty-two Faber-Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils, and swatches for the two sets of Daniel Smith Watercolour that I am waiting to be delivered in the mail. I coloured in the ones I had and labelled everything, and now await the twelve Daniel Smith colours and a tin of empty half-pans. I am interested in trying the PrimaTek mineral pigments that Daniel Smith makes, they look pretty interesting.



I had a few smudges of gouache left on the palette, so this week I am drawing and painting something to use them up in a sample page opposite the swatches. I’ve got my colour mixing book handy in case I forget how to mix colours; it’s been a while.


It’s not much, it took me five hours and my arm hurt, but it’s a start. I’m creating a General Sketchbook category here just for messing around with what takes my fancy.

I hauled out two sketchbooks, one spiral-bound from Canson with white paper, and one from Strathmore with grey toned paper, that I had never used. I remember being frustrated that I couldn’t get the Strathmore one to lie flat, but it’s a Smythe sewn binding so requires some bending back of pages and gently opening the spine and I finally got it to a flat enough state to use.

I also bought two new Stillman & Birn sketchbooks: one a wire bound 7 x 7 inch book with heavy Beta paper, and the other was one of their new softcovers in an 8 x 10 inch size with Zeta paper. Since I can’t at the minute use my big hardcover Zeta I thought I’d get a smaller one and try out the softcover.


I suppose I didn’t need new art supplies but it cheered me up and got me to use sketchbooks that had been packed away since our move 18 months ago.

Old friends, enticing me to creative projects – not a bad result.



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2 Responses to Stricture and Stasis

  1. Delightful how beautiful even simple swatches are! And I love the notion of a colour mixing book. We’ve been playing around with coloured paints with the boys. I never knew red and green formed brown! 😀
    Glad you had fun with it, JJ!


    • The colour mixing book I got was for oil, acrylic, and watercolour, so I can use it when i do my big acrylic diptych for over the fireplace (eventually ha-ha.) It’s very good and is published by Walter Foster. The title is “1500 Color Mixing Recipes: For Oil, Acrylic & Watercolor” by William F. Powell. It has a spiral binding so is easy to open. He has them broken down into general colours and then Landscape colour recipes, skin tones, intensity recipes and value recipes. One of these days I hope to start learning portraiture so this will be invaluable for skin tones, they are a bit tricky.

      You can’t start too early getting the boys using art supplies! Every kid should have the opportunity, you never know where it will lead.

      You can make nice shading colours from complementary colours like red and green, yellow and purple, blue and orange. I also think ultramarine blue and burnt umber together make good shadows. Black tends to be a bit harsh.


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