The Pleasure of Making a Mess

I have been experimenting with ink washes (brushing over ink lines with water) for some weeks, but it was only on Wednesday that the potential that lies in making a mess on a page started to dawn on me. Looking back, I usually prefer the dirtier of my drawings to the clean ones, smudged pencil and charcoal to slick pen lines. Not that there is no attraction to the clean lines, or no fun in experimenting with them, but the dirty stuff is where I feel most at home. That was one of the reasons why I started adding the washes to my pen sketches: I felt a need to un-clean them. But on Wednesday it hit me: Not just can I use the washes to bring out the forms in my drawings, to hint at light and shadow and make them a bit dirtier; I can completely work them over, smudge and mirror them until there is barely anything left than the ghost of a drawing, over which I can make new ones, playing off the ghosts.
The original page spreads, and how they look now:


Suddenly I understood how freeing it is to work with prepared pages the way Roz Stendahl has been doing and writing about it for ages. Before I understood it as more of a decorative thing, to make pages more colorful or use patterns so they become prettier to look at, or as a kind of inspiration device if you’re afraid you might run out of ideas what to draw. Neither appealed to me. For me, it is rather like the pleasure of jumping into a mudhole and just messing around. And then discovering that the mud is, in fact, chocolate. My heart starts racing when I just think about all the things I can suddenly do, all the ways in which I can prepare and work over my pages in layers. Because it is not just about smudging the ink (which can be done in so many interesting ways!), or pre-painting a bit, or even gluing in stuff and drawing over it – the thing that really makes this fascinating is the relationship between the layers. Drawings talking to each other.
This also makes me think hard about composition, in a good way. Page spreads become landscapes, and some pages suddenly find themselves to be paneled, as if they are about to become comics. It feels as if I just reinvented my sketchbook, as if this is where I was trying to go back when I started layering drawings done with different pens on the same page.

4 Responses to “The Pleasure of Making a Mess”

  1. Is there an English equivalent to “Schmierfink”?

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Max Sensei, Oona Leganovic. Oona Leganovic said: More new sketches and a new (for me) way of working that sketchbook #sketching #drawing #montage #sketchbook #ink […]

  3. apropos Tinte und nasses Papier:
    “Here’s a lesson from the fabulous Famous Artists Course. Pull out your brushes and some lamp black and give it a try. Have fun!”

  4. Yeah!

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