It didn’t take long for me to become a paper fanatic after I started working on my art more. One sketchbook lead to three or four sketchbooks which lead to a small stack of books, pads, and bricks, each designated for a purpose or a theme or a specific style of art.
I have a hardcover sketch book just for drawing people.
I have a coiled watercolour pad just for scenes painted from photos.
I have a moleskine book I use specifically for sketching objects.
And there is definitely a canvas-bound landscape notepad reserved for travel.
A book for everything and everything in it’s right book.
So buying a new book these days often means trying to come up with a unique and specific use for it. Such as it was when I bought an 11.5x18cm Moleskine sketchbook a few weeks ago. I unwapped it. Flipped through it’s crisp 165g pages, and left it blank for a solid three weeks.
And then I stumbled on an idea.
small format painting
There is a certain satisfaction that comes with completing a full page of lines and colour and watching it transform from a blank page into a colourful scene on the page. I find myself tripped up by that though, too. Committing a long stretch of time and a whole page to anything gives me the painter’s equivalent of writer’s block, frozen over the page with a shimmering idea waiting to be realized. But as I am just learning and practice is oh-so-much-more important than generating completed art, it struck me that small format pieces, y’know, paintings that could fit on a playing card with room to spare and focusing on a subject rather than a scene, may help unclutter some of that practice. Voila, little paintings with no expectation for scene or palatte or perfection. A few lines of sketch, a few daubs of wash, and then a few minutes painting in the details.
This book would not be ideal for full page art, the paper was a little thin for that, but it could definitely take a gentle few layers for a watercolour doodle or a small format painting.
My rule of thumb is literal. The goal of a small format painting is to be something that could mostly (or entirely) be covered by my thumb.
And the subjects would be varied. No need to focus on practical size. A mountain could be an interesting image painted into the size of a postage stamp a few centimeters away from a doodle of an insect filling up a similar space on the page.
The bunny was the second mini-painting in my new notebook, layered into existence over my morning coffee while the family slept in on a lazy Saturday. Not counting drying time, maybe thirty minutes of work. And a cute little guy too, if I do say so myself.