Friday, October 28, 2022

Studies, Warm-ups, Practice

Many artists have warm-up practices, or do a bunch of studies before plunging into 'real' work. This sounds like an obvious good way to start your painting session, so why haven't I been doing it on a regular basis? I dip into it once in awhile but have not managed to sustain it on any regular basis. Here is a post about quickies. It is almost THREE YEARS old! It is not the last time I engaged with small studies, but still. Here is a video on collage with scraps from almost two years ago.

One of the many things I learned - or re-learned - in my residency at Truro Center for the Arts is the value of this practice. Whether you call them warm-up pieces or studies, the essential aspect is that they are NOT art. They are your playground, a way to warm-up the hand, the eye, the creative muscle that makes visual decisions quickly. You don't have to show any of them to anybody. I don't keep a regular sketchbook as such because I like to work in wet media - paint or collage - and in multiples. I'd have to let one piece dry before turning the page. But these warm-up studies (I'll call them studies, or ├ętudes) are like a sketchbook.

Do you have a regular practice of working in a sketchbook or doing quick studies? I'd like to hear about it. Please comment below. What is the value of this practice you to? What format to you use?

Here are '├ętudes' from the last couple of weeks here. They are on various papers in various media, and the sizes are around 6x8" or 5x7", varying a bit.













16 comments:

  1. I have recently begun doing daily quick pieces, and I REALLY enjoy them! thank you for sharing yours!

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  2. I love this idea of no pressure play!
    I do keep sketchbooks to work out ideas for paintings. Just pencil sketches, no color. I would like to do more pencil sketches to improve my observational skills but I also like the idea of warm up play.

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    1. Thanks, Laurie. I just started going back to sketching from observation, which I haven't done in some years. So maybe I'll keep a sketchbook that way. Sketches are really different from this kind of warm-up thing, for me.

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  3. yes it is a great idea! I did that last summer and I created more than 50 of them. it give so many options, in marking, composition and creation too.

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  4. Hi Jane. I am taken by your studies / scribbles because you've avoided any need for them to be art. I imagine that NOT working in a sketchbook helps this mindset. I've used a sketchbook in fits and starts over the years, often as a place to experiment and document colour, marks, composition. In a permanent sketchbook I find it hard to ditch the idea that what I'm doing should be visually pleasing. I may give your approach a try, thanks.

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    1. Oh, that is funny, Lisa, because I thought that using a book makes it not art. You can't take it out and frame it, because there is another sketch or study on the other side. Interesting that you find the book format more demanding.

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  5. Hi Jane. Have been enjoying seen your recent experiments - especially with crayon. A LONG time ago I used to warm up on blank postcards - maybe make about a dozen and keep a couple. Coincidentally, have been thinking about restarting this practice as keeping warm-ups in a sketchbook inhibits the number you can do with drying time. The past couple of days I've been looking at various DIY rolodexes on YT as a way to keep little works - a kind of artists book-cum-sketchbook. My favourite warm-up, however, is with ink starting with the wonderful smell when grinding the inkstick. For that I tend to just work on a long roll of rice paper and keep it for collage material.

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    1. Oh, NICE! The ink on a roll! I'm thinking I might glue my warm-up pieces into a book of sorts, maybe even use page protectors in a binder... or make a book structure that has a little space between pages to accommodate the thickness of the inserts. Page protectors are probably the easiest at this point. A rolodex sounds like an interesting format.

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  6. Your etudes are symphonic! Sketchbooks, like tattoos, have, to me, certain permanency. Any playful vibe I might have has a hard time feeling spontaneous in something as conformed as a book. However ... I'm beginning to seriously enjoy the accordion/concertina/Japanese-style sketchbook. One long page; the folds can signal an edge, a transition or, ignored altogether, continuation. And, they're often sturdy enough to be arted upon on the reverse side of the paper. I'll graduate to more traditional format, someday!

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    1. Who needs to graduate? I love your concertina idea.Anything that frees you up and allows you to experiment is a good format.

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  7. Hey there, Jane. I agree with Lisa; I also find a book format very restricting for spontaneous scribbling. I have been creating art most of my life and need to be creating 24/7, so that's why I 'scribble' on any piece of paper that catches my attention when I'm not creating 'real' art :) usually starting out with inks, markers, watercolour pencils and homemade mark makers such as brushes made from long pine needles. (Yesterday, I went out onto my deck and gathered some dry needles, bundled them and made a brush.) Sometimes, I use these little 'complusions' as collage material or scan for use in digital art. Love you dedication to everything ART! Kindest regards, Sharron

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  8. I've recently been doing 5 minute collages in the morning. I'm also thinking I need to do more sketching so hoping to start that practice soon.

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  9. So I was an intermittent sketchbook user for YONKS. And then in 2020 participated in Sketchbook Revival and it tweaked something. I've been pretty faithful since. Plus just started grid journaling and THAT has been a game changer for me. My big sketchbook spread allows 18(!) 2 1/2" squares. It has been a place to try different palettes in acrylics and wc. Collage compositions. Mark Making. Because they are teeny, they don't take a TON of time plus enough different spaces that I don't have to worry about the drying aspect. I go back the following day and star any that I want to take further. Plus page after page of grids are Swoonworthy! Highly recommend!

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  10. These are awesome. I have been doing a lot of really small ones- they just flow out, but then I struggle to move to doing full paintings inspired by them and not stiff copies. Would love to see a blog post about making that shift from warmups to work.

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