Last year I realized I had become so involved in photography, both professionally as a post-production editor and also dabbling in taking my own images, that I had almost completely given up creating anything with my hands. Not that photography isn’t a wonderfully creative outlet, but there is something missing for me when I am not holding a pencil, pen or brush in my hand. The Wacom tablet pen is not always a satisfying substitute and getting stuck on a computer for additional hours on top of the 8-12 a day I spend working was becoming less and less appealing.
To jump start my journey away from the computer I purchased a new, unnecessarily huge but oh so pretty, tin of Prismacolor pencils, that I will probably use less than 1/4 of, and a stack of black mat board. I discovered in the 90s I preferred creating on a colored surface of black mat or Canson when one of my AIS instructors gave several assignments like this forcing us to build up and down from a mid-range value or on black where adding value is completely reversed. These assignments were a turning point for me, especially considering I was completing a degree in Computer Animation and not focused on traditional drawing. The first thing I found was how much less intimidating a blank sheet of paper was when it wasn’t white, and also, if I was having trouble coming up with something to draw the choice of paper color would often spark an idea or mood. The follow-up assignment to this one was to use bleach on black paper, which was also pivotal for me…more on that at a later time.
Using my new tin of colors and a handful of favorites from my 90s Prismacolor box I’ve set out to retrain my hands. At this point, doodles of circles and other organic shapes have become explorations in color theory and I’ve made it a mission to create at least one small experiment a day without worrying if it is successful or becomes one of the many ‘lessons learned but not to be repeated’ pieces.