First inky layers on gessoed pages

I am very lucky to have a studio away from home where I can create larger pieces and make as much mess. One thing though – it is freezing in winter. So, it was not too much of a sacrifice to work from home during the months of lockdown. It seems strange to talk about it now, as we have (hopefully) passed that time where being at home was the best place to be. But, it was the primary reason for my art taking the shift it has into this woodland inspiration. Not to say I won’t return to the maritime work, because I know I will someday. I think many artists work in a cyclical way, working on a handful of subjects and themes that they come back to throughout their lifetime. 

Working from home meant a change of perspective and a practical evaluation of how I would create. The only available area was the dining table and it is years since that has been my main studio space! 

I think this really was the best thing for me to jumpstart into this work though. With limited space, I carefully chose a small selection of materials that could all fit on a tray and be lifted off easily. The list was this – a few acrylic paints (heavy body, liquid and high flow in a very limited palette), 2 or 3 acrylic inks, gesso, gloss gel medium, a spray bottle of water, a white gel pen, a few drawing pens, a couple of nib pens, masking tape, a selection of brushes, a water pot, bits of card to spread ink and gesso, a palette knife or two, and a couple of metallic inks. I don’t think there was much more than that and I am sure I could have pared it down even more! 

This is a photo of Gillian's sketchbook showing old, moody trees in a woodland

Working gesturally even on this small scale


With a studio full of art materials and space to work on any given day, I know I am spoiled for choice. But I found it amazing what I could do with those choices pared right back. The biggest takeaway was the scale that I worked at and how that allowed me to work a little every day in a way that produced a lot of work during that time. The thing that made this work so satisfying was the decision to work in an accordion sketchbook (the Seawhite of Brighton version).  It is something I have done many times before and really enjoyed.  On this occasion, that format of endless joined together pages was perfect for starting to create a feeling of a journey through the woodland. I will share some of the pages in more detail in future posts. 

What would you include in a limited tabletop art supplies list? 

I share more in-depth videos and studio updates on my Patreon page where you can access the whole archive and new videos for the price of a cup of coffee each month. There is a  more detailed explanation of my table set-up and materials on my Patreon account here.

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