I hold a new sketch-book in my hands. It is wrapped in clear plastic that stretches tight along the spiral spine. I unwrap it and leaf through its pages. They are crisp and new and feel expectant. I write my name on the cover and stamp my address in the inside. Then I paint a series of color swatches on the inside front cover: usually the twelve colors from my small paint box.
I am outside now, walking the streets of Santa Barbara, California. The air is warm and the place bustles with shoppers and tourists. The first marks are the hardest. I draw a large border just inside the edges of the paper and divide it into nine squares: two horizontal and two vertical. The pen makes a scratching sound as it moves across the page.
The big shapes are drawn first: the cool blue and purple shadow angling across the wall and onto the ground; and the bright white wall. I suggest people, umbrellas, flags and trees, all with loose scribbly strokes. It is an abstract drawing.
I get out my paint box and brush and pour some water into the cup. I mix up some blue and touch it to the page and sky appears. Ultramarine Blue with a touch of Alizarin Crimson makes the shadows. Tiny spots of red, yellow, green and blue suggest a busy market scene. Trees appear when I add Gamboge to Thalo Blue. The colors mix together and creep down the page, causing the pen lines to bleed and smear. The page is suddenly full of moving colors trying to find their place. I nudge them along but mostly try to stay out of the way.
As the warm breeze dries the paint, the paper flattens out again.