Apologies for going so long without an update–I’ve had a few ideas for posts in my head, but in September we had a pretty big medical emergency in our family, and this blog (and pretty much everything else) were the furthest things from my mind. I’m grateful for such a close-knit and supportive family, and I was very glad to be available to be with my family when they needed me.
Just before that event I ordered a Pentel Pocket Pen Brush, and was just starting to figure out how to use it (here is a short video intro to the pen). I was pretty grateful to have it, an imitation moleskin, and a TON of ink refills for all those hours I was in the waiting room outside Stanford cardiology. Some of you may have seen these in my DeviantArt gallery already, but I’m posting two of my “sketch dumps” from this pen brush below–the long narrow one from when I first got it, the larger one all from the blue imitation-moleskin that I would sketch in at the hospital (and elsewhere). Didn’t scan them–I found it easiest to just take pics using my digital camera, do a little editing (and I admit that I did clean up maybe 2-3 sketches in photoshop before stitching them in with the others), and then put them into one photoshop document. I really enjoy the feeling of drawing with this pen–I just love brushes, and this is one that I don’t need to keep filling up! I struggle a bit with controlling the width and cleanness of the line. I have shaky hands (have for a long time), so carefully drawing a thin line can be a bit difficult, but a quick stroke often ends up too thick. I found myself playing with negative space a lot (contrasting light and shadow, rather than just lining contour), as you can see in some of these sketches. The landscapes were fun, but I need more gradations than just black and white to do that–so apologies if the forest floor at Henry Cowell State Park is a bit difficult to make out. 😛
Sketching can be a very nice, cathartic, brainless activity for me (well, not brainless, but more… um, organic??), especially in those moments when the picture just seems to draw itself–most of the pics in these sketch dumps that I’m posting here just developed as they went. Any picture will do that to some degree, however concrete an idea you have–it’s an emergent process, rather than a transcription of a vision. I think we can compare sketching, or other informal, just-for-fun creative moments (noodling around on guitar is another for me) to sleeping/dreaming–by backing out of our conscious engagement with the things that are looming large in our life and working with a different corner of our brain, we actually give our mind space to process things at a different level, or in a different way. Sometimes our cognitive engagement with the world just needs to be re-calibrated a bit, and we need to back off enough to give it the space to do that. Not to endorse whole-hearted escapism, or to deny that we often just need to “face things,” but it’s not an either-or situation. And especially in those times when there is nothing practical that we can do, because everything has been done, or we are not the ones with the skills to do it, or whatever other reason, in those times distraction, especially creative, is healthy and necessary self-care.
Anyway, here are my sketches. I think you can see some definite improvement from the first bunch of sketches to the second, but I won’t claim to have anything polished here. I hope some of them capture your imagination or are beautiful or interesting to you. I think I am mostly going to stick to digital art for anything polished that I do, but who knows, maybe I’ll try inking a pencil sketch one of these days…
And new posts to follow soon, I hope. Have got a big translation job coming up (fingers crossed–haven’t signed a contract yet), but I would really like to put some more time into my art and my non-academic writing.