I've been through phases of trying new materials and paper effects before, but as i've settled into using pen and ink drawings most of the time, I haven't tried experimenting in this way for a long while. This exercise asked me to create a sketchbook that I could use to try different material combinations and experiment around drawing a single subject.
I gathered up my supplies from old and new purchases and ended up with a large of various paper textures and art mediums to try.
Pencil / Graphite | Pencil crayon | Alcohol markers | Fine liners | White Ink Pen
Acrylic Paint | Watercolour | Watercolour Pencils | Ink pencils | Gouache | India Ink
White Cartridge Paper (200gsm) | White Cartridge Paper (130gsm) | Linen Texture Acrylic Paper (190gsm) | White card (210gsm) | White card (410gsm) | Black Card (480gsm) | Pastel Card (240gsm) | Watercolour paper (300gsm) | Watercolour Paper (190gsm) | Corrugated Cardboard | Craft Foam | Metallic Card (230gsm) | Collage Paper | Tracing Paper (63gsm) | Recycled Printer Paper
To create a full drawing for each possible combination across the 15 sheets of paper would be a mammoth task and one that I wouldn't have room for on the small A5 sheets I had gathered. In streamlining this process, I initially made small swatches for each type of material on each sheet before picking the most interesting and unusual variations to take forward and do sketches of on that particular page.
This exercise was not as strict on what it listed as potential subject to draw, but one of the examples it gave was a shoe, which stood out to me as a distinctive yet simple shape to repeatedly interpret. I took a pair of my own shoes as my reference and sketched from life while changing the positions of my objects to keep things interesting. My focus was mainly on using gouache, acrylic and watercolour as I'm less used to painting than I am drawing at the moment. I had a production line of loose pages across my desk and floor as I used each material in turn and left them to dry while I moved on to the next type of paper.
I didn’t spend too long on each drawing as there were still a large amount to do even with my focus on only about 4-5 drawings per sheet. I focused less on complete forms and more on the ease of movement and feel of the materials across the surface while making notes on areas such a texture, finish, if the paper had any bleed or warping and the differences in materials through thick and thin applications. You can see my notes in the gallery below:
Some interesting and unexpected combinations that I noted included Gouache on metallic card for the way it pooled together and shrunk on the surface and watercolour for how the pigment became very vivid and powdery when it dried on tracing paper.
Towards the end of my sessions, I admittedly found myself doing increasingly minimalist versions of shoes in interest of time, but I still kept considering how the materials were reacting to each other enough to give me the information that I needed for my notes.
This exercise was an interesting set of experiments and definitely made want to create more sample sheets like this for projects in the future, especially when mixed media combinations could be greater than the sum of their parts in some cases.
There are still some aspects that I would like to improve as on reflection I would have liked to have tried more cold press or homemade papers for rougher types of textures and my page sizes could have been larger to create room for bigger experiments. If I also cut back on repeated experiments using types of paper with similar qualities, I think I will be able to dedicate more time to layering more colours and detail by using more complicated objects for material studies.