Before I started watercolor painting, I illustrated using art markers. It was more of a craft activity at that time, simple illustrations for greeting cards, gift tags, and zentangles. Eventually, I began working more with fineliner art markers and watercolor and I squirreled away my markers. After finding the work of Helen Wells, she inspired me to pull out that mish-mashed collection of markers and try some abstract sketchbook work.
I started with her exercise where you draw random organic shapes in a grid. That’s when I remembered that I had forgotten everything about using markers, especially the blending and smoothing techniques. I was really irritated with the whole process, the markers, the paper, ugh!
I moved onto full page abstract organic shapes, and then some flowers appeared (of course they did). I did rather like the unblended stripes of color in the shapes that gave them some interesting texture.
I left the flowers behind and returned to more mosaic-like or stained-glass-like abstractions. The music was playing and I filled almost a whole sketchbook in a single studio session, one page after the other.
Then I felt a shift, or maybe it was a push. I had this sense of reaching toward something elusive and this organic hand shape kept appearing. I know, it sounds rather woo woo, but these kinds of insights do tend to appear out of repetitive and focused activities. I kept working until the sketchbook was full.
When I finished the final page in the book, I looked over all of the pages and saw a condensed evolution of work, from clunky colored experimental shapes to something more sophisticated and monochromatic. I knew I needed to explore this concept more.
The next day I was reorganizing my studio supplies and ran across several packages of Artist Trading Cards and serendipity led me to create a series of small marker paintings that expressed the feeling of reaching out.
This exploration of my forgotten art markers, which started out irritating and ended quite satisfying, illustrates the need to step away from the things you habitually create and work with a different medium or media with focused effort. You never know what may appear to you when you try.
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