Most people that know me know there’s one thing that’s going to happen on a daily basis with me – I’m going to draw. Whether it be finishing a drawing for a project or drawing in my sketchbook – I’m going to draw. That’s never changed. Sometimes I draw a lot, sometimes I draw less, and sometimes I take a breather. Overall, drawing is a constant for me. It always has been. Still, you’d be surprised to know that there are still people who ask me what I do. Ah, life is short… when’s the next time I’m going to have tapas and sangria? Now, there’s a real question that’s deserving of an answer.
Recently, I acquired a new sketchbook. For the last 25 years or so I’ve been using Aquabee Super Deluxe spiral bound sketchbooks. I started using them when I was an art student in San Francisco because of the quality of their paper. At the time, I was drawing and painting in my sketchbook, so my sketchbook had to be able to handle both wet and dry media. The only drawback to using this brand is that their sketchbooks are spiral bound. I’d always wanted a hardcover sketchbook, but found that the companies that produced those type of books did so with an inferior quality of paper. Years went by, and nothing. I would occasionally look to see if, by a miracle, someone had invented one yet, but the answer was always the same – no. That continued to be the case until a year ago when I heard of a new brand of sketchbooks that featured heavy, natural white paper bound into a hardcover book. Could it really be? Was I imagining things? I took note of the company name and promised myself to investigate this at a later date after completing our recent move from hell.
Before I go on, you must understand the importance of my sketchbook. I’ve been keeping a sketchbook since the age of 18 and it goes everywhere with me. This habit has also come into question by various profoundly confused individuals. “What do you do that for?” ask the unenlightened. Wait, did I say that I need to have tapas and sangria soon? Yeah, there’s important things to do in life; answering stupid questions isn’t on the list. The sketchbook goes everywhere with me – people need to get drawn, things need to be written, ideas need to be explored, etc, etc. Get the picture?
So, I finally found the ideal sketchbook for myself; hardbound with natural white 100 pound paper – bloody perfect! It takes ink beautifully and is a pleasure to draw in. The image that accompanies this post is one of the drawings that I’ve recently done in my new book. I wanted to challenge myself so I thought I’d try my hand at copying a painting from the Renaissance, “Madonna and Child,” by Andrea Solari, a painter that was active between 1495 and 1524. Obviously, copying a painting in pen and ink presents certain challenges; the main one being subtlety. Capturing the subtleties in a painting in pen and ink is no walk in the park. I’m not sure that I succeeded in what I set out to do, but it was a good exercise for me. While drawing this, two things occurred to me 1. I could not have done this 10 or 15 years ago and 2. it shows that my draftsmanship speaks for itself. The best is yet to come.