The Sketchbook Project: 2011The paper in the Moleskine sketchbook is soft and lovely to touch, but it’s thin. I most often work on watercolor blocks or digitally, so it’s been a while since I had to worry about wrinkling and bleed through. The early decision I made about using Sharpie marker to trace line drawings into the book created the biggest challenge of the project.

The line drawings bled through to the back side of every page. I had a spread with a lizard, snake, frog or turtle followed by half of one animal and half of the next spread. It was like I had half a book of mutant creatures. How could I deal with this?

I committed to myself that I was going to work with whatever emerged. I was under time pressure. I’d just have to do the best I could. I tried a lot of different things using a variety of materials in layers on top of the mutants. Here are some of the solutions I came up with (click to see larger)

One of the hardest parts of these pages was deciding when to stop. I never felt they were completely resolved, so I was continuously tempted to add just one more layer or detail. In the end, it was the thin pages that began to dictate. I could only work back into them so much before they started to tear.

What do you do?

What does it take for you to see a challenge as a creative opportunity? When you are struggling for a solution how do you know when to stop?

Other posts about the Sketchbook Project

Embracing procrastination in a creative project

Sketchbook Project: Creating a base

Solving problems when short on time

Sketchbook Project: Putting it together

Recommended Posts

18 Comments

  1. These turned out lovely. What a lesson in surrendering to whatever comes up! I don’t know how to decide when to stop, either. Sometimes I just can’t figure out anything else to do, so I have to give it a rest.

  2. These turned out lovely. What a lesson in surrendering to whatever comes up! I don’t know how to decide when to stop, either. Sometimes I just can’t figure out anything else to do, so I have to give it a rest.

    • Barbara, I think you have some real wisdom there in the give it a rest. Things seem to look different when you come back.

  3. Those are beautiful. And I bet it makes an interesting sequence to go from a “whole” animal to a mutant, to a whole, … as you go through the book.

  4. Those are beautiful. And I bet it makes an interesting sequence to go from a “whole” animal to a mutant, to a whole, … as you go through the book.

    • Yes, the turning of the pages is an intriguing part of this project that doesn’t translate very well on the blog. I’ll put some of the sequences up next.

  5. I really like these mutants!

    My approach to the same problem of the thin pages was to glue them together, to create fewer but stronger pages. That came with its own challenges, though. Even a little excess glue affected how a page would accept media afterwards and while bleedthroughs were prevented, it still wasn’t really suitable for watercolor. And the pages easily dried with a bit of a curl. All part of the charm!

  6. I really like these mutants!

    My approach to the same problem of the thin pages was to glue them together, to create fewer but stronger pages. That came with its own challenges, though. Even a little excess glue affected how a page would accept media afterwards and while bleedthroughs were prevented, it still wasn’t really suitable for watercolor. And the pages easily dried with a bit of a curl. All part of the charm!

    • I wondered how you had used watercolor without the pages just falling apart– now I know the secret. I would imagine it would change the surface of the paper quite a bit. So many intersecting details in this project. Did you ever imagine it would have been so complex?


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