Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Jill of All Media

1/20/16 ink, colored pencils, Zig markers
Flitting from watercolor to fountain pens to brush pens to colored pencils to digital sketching and back again (and again), I sometimes wonder if I should just stick with one medium. A Jill of all media but master of none, I might learn more if I focused on one thing for a while. But during the four-plus years that I’ve been drawing, I’ve never been able to decide which medium I like most so that I could settle down. Different subject matter often requires different media, and sometimes the amount of time I have available for a sketch determines what I use. I like having options.

Above all, switching it up makes me happy. Fountain pens make me happy in a way that is different from the way colored pencils make me happy, and colored pencils make me happy in a way different from the way brush pens make me happy. There’s no explaining that part. 

Just as I was pondering all of this, I read Roz Stendahl’s blog. You’re probably already familiar with Roz; her blog is required reading for art journalers, sketchers and anyone newly discovering art. I think of her as the wise crone (I don’t think she would be offended by that reference, though her pigtails belie the image of a crone!) of creativity and personal expression. In a post about why she demonstrates many different media in her online classes even though students can choose to use nothing but pencil and paper and still learn everything taught in the courses, Roz says:
12/29/15 Zebra double-sided brush pen

"I believe that each medium explored brings something new to our understanding of getting 3-dimensional subjects down on paper. I believe that each medium brings its own joys and strengths, as well as its challenges to the act of sketching. I also know, after spending years helping students draw, that every individual will develop preferences and fondnesses for particular media. 

"I believe it’s my job as a teacher to help them work with these preferences to improve their skills, but also to push them to experiment so they can develop new skills. In this way the act of drawing becomes an adventure. The process of drawing becomes a series of experiments through which the student gains an understanding of his own process and a path to his unique voice."

1/19/16 colored pencils, Pilot Futayaku brush pen
There you have it. I’ve intuitively known this about my own creative process all along, but now that I’ve heard Roz say it, I know it must be valid and true. Rock on, Roz.

Meanwhile, my sketch bag gets heavier, but my heart remains happy.

(Related to that, I’ve removed watercolors from my bag for the winter. I’m sure they’ll go back in when I sketch outdoors again in the spring, but for now, I’m giving colored pencils more space in my bag. And – surprise! – a couple of different brush pens have made their way into my bag. Imagine that.)


  1. Hooray for you and Roz in broadening your horizons and media ! I admire and salute you ! I am still trying to master two - watercolour pencil and ink. I am having such fun doing that an find that I don't have the tie or inclination to explore further... at the moment...

    1. Thank you, Alissa! We'll see if I ever settle down on one or two media! :-)


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