Challenge through limitations

Facing a sheet of pristine white paper can sometimes be intimidating but I got some great ideas to overcome that fear from a workshop I did in Santo Domingo with Nina Johansson. I loved every workshop I did at the Urban Sketchers Symposium and yet I haven’t written about this very first one — Challenge through limitations — most likely because I didn’t draw anything worth posting at the time. We used all sorts of drawing tools that Nina generously shared — bamboo pens, markers, ink — to try to shake us out of our usual ways of working. The technique I liked best, and tried in the sketch below, was to mess up that clean white sheet before drawing on it. I mixed up some watercolour, dripped it on my paper, sprinkled some salt on top of that and then when it was bone dry I shook off the salt and did my drawing of the broom on top of that. In Santo Domingo we even put paint on our shoes and stepped on our sketchbooks. It’s very liberating to work on a sheet that already has some marks on it.

Whisk Broom

11 Comments on “Challenge through limitations”

  1. Linda Daily says:

    I like this! i am going to try this with a blank page in my sketchbook that has some paint smudges on it!
    I was inspired by your conservatory painting and painted the one In Golden Gate Park while in SF last week.
    Tried to “channel” what I learned in the PDX workshop!


    • Linda, I was just thinking about you and wondering how you were doing. I am so glad we inspired you to keep on painting. Lucky you to be in SF. One of my favourite cities.
      I’d like to go back to that conservatory in Westmount to paint there again. I think it will be beautiful in winter too.


  2. Debra Ganong says:

    Hi Shari – Jean and I wanted to tell you that we think this is one of your most beautiful sketches. Taking a simple object like a broom and transforming our vision of it is really inspiring! Thank you for adding pleasure to our days.


  3. Ross C says:

    Your drawing of the broom is simply stunning… I can just feel the tension in all those tightly bound straws! But the paint splatters aren’t doing much for me… so what, exactly, was the purpose of messing up the page first? (and in a Moleskine too!)… is it just so that you don’t have to start with a white page?


  4. refarch says:

    I met Tia Boon Sim and Paul Wang in Singapore earlier this year, and they showed me the same trick, spoiling the paper. Very liberating indeed. Problem is that you need to spoil the paper some time before (at least a day, I find that to be very awkward), otherwise the drawing and/or painting bleeds. How do you cope with that?


  5. Lori Fisher says:

    I would like to know if this piece( broom on page) is available for sale?
    I am Looking for a picture of a broom for my friend.

    Thank you


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