Fade to grey

One of the major issues with the books I like to make is that publishers hate to pay for 4-color printing. It creates a lot more complexity in the production process and drives up the cost of making the book. They then have to decide whether to absorb the cost and hope they sell enough copies to make a profit. Alternatively, they can make the cover price high enough to cover the cost but drive off a lot of readers who can’t afford $39.95 for a book. They can also force the author to cover a bigger than normal share of the cost by making his advance miniscule. It’s all economic, and as usual, it’s a drag for an artist.

One of the advantages of being a cretaive person, however, is that every obstacle is an opportunity. To that end, I have been thinking of other ways to make journals that can be reproduced without losing expression. The past few years of sharing my work on the web has allowed me to become quite adept at watercoloring and to combine pen-and-ink crosshatching with brushwork. In my portrait book, I have been using sumi ink quite regularly and for the next month or so, I ‘ll be posting images from my regular moleskine journal that I’m painting in shades of grey. I want to try to capture the energy and excitement of my watercolor box in pure tone and will be working with contrast and various sorts of brushes to capture what I am doing, seeing and feeling.

I am working in a variety of ways. I draw where and whenever the moment seizes me. Then if I have a sumi loaded waterbrush with me, I dip it into a little water cup to create various densities of tone. I mix on the palm of my hand or right on the page. I may also finish the page back at home, where I can use my big fat sable brush and official Japanese stone sumi mixing bowl.