4 X 6 Alpha sketches
While the Epsilon is the best paper for ink, it doesn't take watercolor as well. I can put in light watercolor washes, but it doesn't allow colors to blend the way I want, and I find myself overworking it and making a mess. So after I filled up that 8.5 X 5.5 inch Stillman & Birn Epsilon Sketchbook, I continued my drawings in a Stillman & Birn 4 X 6 inch hardbound Alpha Sketchbook. The Alpha paper is absolutely wonderful with ink and watercolor.
The first two pages were drawn with my Yume-Ginga (Dream Galaxy) brush pen in Kuretake sumi ink which is not waterproof, so I didn't add watercolor.
I also discovered that while Epsilon paper was made with ink sketches in mind, I think I prefer Alpha paper because it lets the ink soak into the paper more rather than sit on top of the surface. This means that after the ink has dried, there is less possibility of it rubbing off and transferring to the facing page when the sketchbook is closed (very crucial with double-page spreads). Of course, this phenomenon is also affected by the type of ink you use. I was happy to see that Kuretake Sumi Ink did not transfer at all to the facing page on Alpha paper. Kuretake does transfer very slightly on Epsilon paper, and Carbon ink transfers quite a bit on Epsilon paper, and only a slight bit on Alpha paper.
Anyway, since this is Alpha paper which is great with watercolors, I switched my pen and ink to the Platinum Weasel hair brush pen with waterproof Carbon Ink so I could start adding watercolor. When you cover a Carbon ink drawing with a layer of watercolor, there is no longer any danger of the ink transferring to the facing page.
As usual, my source for the brush and ink drawings is the collection pencil and watercolor sketches in my pocket notebook with 3X5 inch sketch paper.
As I mentioned on the previous page, students are starting to ask me to sketch them as well. I must admit that I am a bit nervous sketching my own students as they patiently wait for me to finish, so I draw a little quicker than normal. But gradually I'm getting accustomed to this new challenge.
After I take a photo of the sketch for reference, I give the sketch to the students as their "modeling fee" (which is probably the reason students are asking me to sketch them in the first place). These sketches show up on their Twitter pages, which results in more students asking me to sketch them. Suddenly I have a huge source of models.
I then used my reference photos of the quick sketches to make ink and watercolor drawings in the Alpha sketchbook.
As you can see, I had to supply a lot of detail from imagination since the original sketches were rough and quick, which resulted in faces which did not resemble the original models. So far I have had no complaints.
Now that I have sketched several students, I can see that one problem with these sketches is that the poses are not very exciting, mainly seated figures studying at a table; nothing like the variety of spontaneous poses I get on the subway. It's more fun to be a "sketch hunter" who captures unsuspecting subjects in a matter of a few minutes, not knowing if they will get away before I finish.
The sketch hunter moves through life as he finds it, not passing negligently the things he loves,
but stopping to know them, and to note them down in the shorthand of his sketchbook.
So I decided to not focus on sketches of students in the future. However, a few weeks later as my high school students were studying for their final exams, one girl raised her hand. I went over, expecting to answer a question about some English problem, but instead she asked me if I would sketch her and her friends, and added that she had been wanting to ask this for quite some time.
Since I had my 3X5 sketch notebook in my pocket, I was able to produce this on the spot. The girl who made the request is sitting second from the right, and kept perfectly still. But a few of the others were in constant motion, since it was not their idea to be models in the first place. So I had to go into "zoo sketching" mode where you try to sketch a restless, pacing animal by constantly stopping and waiting until it returns to one particular pose so you can resume sketching. All the squiggly lines indicate which ones were restless.
The girls were so happy with this sketch that they begged me for it there and then. So I had to wait until it showed up on Twitter before I could download a copy for myself.