Wednesday, 17 February 2010

I wished I noted that

This article was first published in my newsletter "Notes From My French Easel" – January 2010. Follow the link to receive this free monthly newsletter .

I have been using notebooks for years to record ideas or tasks to do, to note interesting facts when visiting exhibitions and to doodle or sketch compositions. Notebooks are wonderful laboratories for ideas: you can capture a burgeoning idea, let it grow and find it later. The great advantage over loose paper is that everything is in one place and you can also see the chronology and evolution of your ideas.

I use my notebook as a ubiquitous capture tool. The truth is that if you don’t note it, you won’t remember it (you will only remember that it was important!) or you will keep thinking about it all the time. Don’t let circling thoughts nag you when you paint.

There are a number of things that are worth noting as an artist. Colours sold under the same name vary from one manufacturer to the next, so you want to keep precise references of what you buy so you can replace it or avoid it (if you don’t like the colour or texture). A typical example is watercolour pans. After unwrapping a watercolour pan, I write the reference on the bottom of the plastic pan with a permanent marker. I also stick the label on a card and file it. It is also wise to make a colour chart with your pastel stick with the name of the colour, the brand and the reference number before the stick goes in the box and loose its label.

Some other pieces of information that I want to gather for my inventory is the nature, size and brand of the support I use. By the time I finish a painting, I have often forgotten the brand and characteristics of the canvas I used. The easy remedy is to write the relevant information with a pencil on one of the stretcher bars. For watercolour paper that I cut from larger sheets, I also mark the information with a pencil at the back. Before I frame the watercolour, I make sure I transfer all the information into my paintings inventory, but the information is also at the back of the work and will follow it everywhere if it is ever needed in the future.

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