Messing up some paper


I am preparing for the workshop at the Urban Sketchers Symposium in Santo Domingo in July. It´s going to be all about getting out of your drawing comfort zone by giving yourself some limitations when you work (limited time, tools, colours, subjects – we will try to challenge ourselves in many ways).

In one of the exercises in the workshop, to relax from the pressure of producing great results, we are going to work on messed up papers. A pristine white surface can stifle creativity a bit sometimes, and I´m trying out some nice methods to make paper less threatening. Turns out shoes are a great help in this process.





Another important ingredient in the workshop is to avoid working with your usual tools. I hope each participant will get a chance to try some tools they never tried before. This is something I´ve been working on a lot lately myself, trying to broaden my repertoire of drawing utensils beyond my fountain pens and watercolours.

The BY FAR most annoying tool I´ve tried so far is this carpenter´s pencil (which is what I used in the drawing above). This thing drives me nuts, and I love it.


One second it gives me beautiful expressive lines, the next I completely miss the spot I intended to draw on, because the nib shape is so crazy. I´m definitely bringing some of these pencils to Santo Domingo.

Top drawing: 24 x 19 cm, carpenter´s pencil on half ruined Plano drawing paper.

18 Responses to “Messing up some paper”

  1. You made me smile. I like the fact that your tool is driving you nuts, but you love it. I’ve been torturing a canvas and am just going to have to get bold and start cutting things up and tying things together to capture my vision.
    Stay inspired!

  2. Rob Weaver says:

    Nina -

    Someone with your talent would get great results with a rusty nail!

  3. Great use of the shoes. It only seems appropriate that the objects which take us along our journey be used to create the images of our successes. I’m hoping to go to the USK Symposium as well. Need to work on getting the funds but hopefully we will meet up.

    I’m defineately gonna’ have to try this little challenge.
    Thanks again for both the great read, insperation, and pictures.


  4. Catherine Rogan says:

    Wow, I love this drawing. Such a great idea to mess up the paper, it can be quite intimidating, that white pristine page….have fun on your trip Nina. Catherine

  5. Isa says:

    bravo d’oser Nina, c’est un peu ce que je fais avec ma prof de dessin, j’essaye tout !

  6. I am following your blog and was wondering exactly about these effects that spoil the paper. Great post, excellent work.

  7. I love your drawings, I wish I could be in your workshop in Santo Domingo!
    But with this post I already learned something! Thanks!

  8. Roxane says:

    I am thrilled to find someone who enjoys the carpenter pencil! I love them, but when a college professor put me down and laughed at me for using them, I put them away with the idea that a “real artist” would never use them. Just recently I dug them out and have been happily using them. You are right, they have a quirkiness to them, that one cannot get from any other pencil. Expressive lines, shading, trees, and the most beautiful straight lines! You made my day a happy one!

    • Hi Roxane,
      I´m surprised at your college professors… Teachers, huh? You shouldn´t always listen to them, that´s for sure. I´m glad to hear you are joyfully using the carpenter´s pencil, it is a really fun tool.

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