My parents immigrated to the US from Taiwan, and yet I have never traveled to Taiwan before, until now! Ever since Art Prof started, I’ve been on hyper drive trying to get it established, and this past year was by far the most intense year in terms of the work load and commitment the project demanded. Which is why this trip is a good “excuse” to not work and enjoy my time here.
A few months ago, I started an effort (albeit a very small one) to sketch on a more casual basis. My colleague Casey Roonan sketches from life daily, to the point that if he and I sat down for more than 2 minutes, he would have whipped out his sketchbook and started drawing me. Inspired by his sketching practice, I realized that it had been years since I last sketched on a casual basis. All of my projects since art school (over 20 years ago!) have always been working towards finished work intended for exhibition. For this reason, I had completely forgotten about sketching on a casual basis.
Which is why Taiwan is the perfect opportunity to start a sketching practice again. I brought my laptop with me, thinking that I would want to work on Art Prof in the evenings when my kids were sleeping, but surprisingly, I have no desire to do so. I guess when you travel to a foreign country you completely switch gears and it’s impossible (in a good way) to stay in the same work mode as when you’re at home. Instead, I’ve been exploring my Tombow brush pens in great depth, drawing not only sites that we have visited, but also quiet moments at our hotel, like my daughter and dad playing Go on the bed.
I am usually not a fan of the latest innovation in art supplies, most seem really gimmicky and are just glaringly inferior to the classic art supplies that have been around for centuries. The Tombow brush pens are a definite exception, I got interested in markers from watching Lauryn Welch, (who works on Art Prof with me) draw with them. I was really surprised by the potential for layering, and the wash-like, painterly quality the pens seemed capable of.
The more I experiment with the brush pens the more I am realizing how much I can very closely replicate the look of a Walnut Ink drawing. Walnut ink is by far my favorite ink to sketch with, but the hassle of carrying around several little containers of ink gradients, a large one for washing brushes, brushes, and paper towels isn’t really worth it considering how quickly we are moving on this trip. If I were traveling by myself I could do any media, but not while traveling with my entire family. Which is why the brush pens are absolutely perfect, they closely replicate the look of an ink drawing but are crazy convenient. All it takes is a sketchbook, and 3 brush pens in my pocket. That’s it.
Tombow makes all different kinds of brush pens in tons of colors, but after some troubleshooting, I’m finding that all I need is the darkest brown, a medium brown, and a colorless blender. I tried drawing with a pack that was about 8 gradients of brownish tones, but I actually found it really inefficient because I had to keep switching markers really often.
Now that I’ve settled into an approach to the brush pens that I like, it’s been great searching for what to draw. What I’m discovering is that I don’t tend to like drawing an entire site. We visited a temple the other day, and I didn’t want to draw the entire temple, not only did it feel overwhelming, but I also felt like I would practically be replicating a generic postcard version of the site. Instead, I really enjoyed finding small moments in the building, like the butt cracks on the stone lions, the turtle that was embedded in the columns, and more.
I’ve been here a few days, but it seems like I’ve worked out a good system for sketching, and I’m excited to see what else is ahead!