Contained in the Sketchbook of Mark Chen

Mark Chen is a figurative painter whose use of sketchbooks underpins the complete spectrum of his inventive follow, from sketching on the go to the visible demonstrations he attracts as a senior tutor at London Advantageous Artwork Studios. Have a look via Mark’s sketchbooks and drawing pads to seek out out extra concerning the organised method he has to his drawing follow and the way he makes use of black paper.



Mark Chen Takes Us By way of His Sketchbook Apply

I usually maintain round three sketchbooks with me; a pocket sketchbook for taking visible notes and recording concepts, a darkish paper sketchbook for compositional experiments, and an A4-A3 sketchbook for museum research and practices. I are inclined to work on a number of initiatives on the identical time and a few concepts is perhaps deserted midway so I don’t maintain a separate sketchbook for every mission. The structure might seem fairly messy as I favor to see how my concepts inform one another by seeing them in the identical journal and search for new inspiration amidst the chaos.


Mark Chen


The pocket sketchbook is round A5 measurement which might simply slot in my pocket. That is the place I write or draw concepts down for bigger works, or do a 3-5 minute sketch of sceneries that intrigue me within the metropolis. Generally I sketch from reflections of the home windows on the bus or take visible references of an object that I’d use for a ultimate piece, resembling small monuments and architectural ornaments.


Mark Chen


The darkish sketchbook I at present have is a Daler Rowney Ebony Hardback Sketchbook and that is the place I experiment and research composition. These are usually sketches for a small plein air portray or grasp research with reversed gentle and darkish on black cartridge paper. Whereas a black sketchbook is nice for night sketches of site visitors lights and cityscapes, additionally, you will discover pages of thumbnail sketches drawn with white markers, pen, and white chalk, typically fairly summary with easy shapes and contours. These are sometimes compositional grasp research as I supply inspiration from a wide range of artists resembling Whistler, Kandinsky and Gely Korzhev.



Worth sample and the association of color mass are extraordinarily necessary to me and a black sketchbook is ideal for this, the darkish surfaces save me a lot effort and time to mass within the background. I then start to puzzle the preparations and develop sketches of my very own, these sketches are normally the start of a bigger piece that I’ve set my thoughts on however wanted to refresh my concepts.



One other sketchbook I exploit is an A4-A3 Seawhite Cartridge Paper Sketchpad. I discover the standard of the paper extremely versatile so I’ve been utilizing them for a few years. The feel of the floor is easy sufficient for extra refined graphite research with simply sufficient tooth so the drawing doesn’t smear off simply. Additionally it is thick sufficient for moist mediums resembling ink and water-soluble charcoal.



One of many workouts I do on this sketchbook is thumbnail compositional research with black everlasting markers. After a common define of an concept in my darkish sketchbook, I try to develop the composition right here. That is normally the place I begin fascinated about the symbolic facet and what materials I might apply as an alternative of simply summary shapes, generally the drawing can be a mix of graphite and everlasting marker. The one downside with most of my sketchbook is the drawings smearing off after some time, generally I stick a bit of tracing paper on prime of the extra completed sketches to guard them. Ring-binder sketchbook saves me a lot area and is extremely handy to hold round, nevertheless it does imply that I typically must take an additional step to guard my work.



As a educating artist, this sketchbook is mostly the place I maintain my drawing demonstrations and anatomical research. As I specialize in portraiture, understanding the construction of the cranium is essential. There are a number of pages of detailed drawings of various elements of the bone and anatomical landmarks, typically adopted by portrait drawings with an analogous pose or angle. To additional improve this basic data, I spend a substantial amount of time drawing within the Victoria & Albert Museum and the British Museum. I a lot favor drawing from life as an alternative of from reminiscence or pictures, to take a seat and observe the subtlety of kind and the grandeur of the vintage is a serious a part of my follow and life as an artist. I typically select a bust of an inspiring historic determine resembling Voltaire and Oliver Cromwell to attract from because it seems like a timeless visible dialect between me and the legends.



In addition to the common workouts to maintain my eyes sharp, I like exploring new supplies and methods to make use of my instruments for a distinct texture. Cross-hatching and line works helps to explain anatomical kind and foreshortening whereas a flat graphite stick, or a damaged lead of pencils are nice for a looser impact. These mark-making experiments can typically be discovered across the nook of the web page.



As talked about above, I additionally use water-soluble charcoal, generally known as Russian Sauce for firming the drawing paper. Though they’re fairly troublesome to return by in London, they’re extremely versatile as in contrast to ink or watercolour, they don’t stain the paper completely and may be simply rubbed off for highlights. I generally tone the paper after a session of drawing which doesn’t smear the drawing in any respect, it was additionally really helpful so as to add a drop of PVA glue if I wished a extra everlasting stain.



I typically use quite a lot of paper stumps of assorted sizes in my drawing, generally I dip my stumps right into a poach of graphite or charcoal mud and liberally brush them on the paper for a extra quick and expressive background. Sponge and brushes are additionally nice for this system, however a stump tends to be a bit of cleaner and tidier.


Mark Chen


I imagine using sketchbooks and drafts is totally essential to an artist. To not follow and sharpen our expertise, however to discover, experiment, and visualise concepts. Sketching out concepts is much like handwriting versus typing, it forces you to stretch and reshape your idea in a manner that leaves a robust impression. Each artist has their distinctive option to navigate concepts in sketchbooks which is what makes the inventive course of vibrant and attention-grabbing, however the stage of planning and experimenting is vital to all nice artistic endeavors.


About Mark Chen

Mark Chen is a classically skilled artist and instructor primarily based in London. His follow follows a standard, tutorial method, knowledgeable by his in-depth research of philosophy and artwork historical past in addition to 17 years learning drawing and portray in each London and Taiwan. He’s a senior portray/drawing tutor at London Advantageous Artwork Studios.

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Additional Studying

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Invoice Murphy on Combining Supplies to Reinvigorate His Drawing Apply


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Clare McNamara

As Weblog Editor, Clare oversees content material for the weblog, manages the publishing schedule and contributes commonly with options, evaluations and interviews. With a background in superb arts, her practices are illustration, graphic design, video and music.