Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Newsprint

I know—it’s not archival. In time it will get yellow and brittle at the edges.

But I love the way newsprint responds to charcoal. It takes a sweeping stroke of vine charcoal like a piece of sourdough takes butter. It answers to compressed charcoal with a black like midnight. It’s so dirt cheap that it encourages me to take a chance and try something new. There are more elegant varieties out there, but good old newsprint is the one I like to warm up with. It’s the Cinderella of art papers.

17 comments:

Erik Bongers said...

[off topic]
Was checking out latest addition to the Lines and Colors website, and look what I found.

patdzon said...

Newsprint is an addiction!

Sometimes I felt that my drawings looked better on newsprint than on expensive drawing paper.

Andrew Wales said...

It's too bad they can't make an archival newsprint. I think the feel of the paper has something to do with it, but this too:

Some of my best works are scribbled into notebooks of lined paper. Why? I think, in the back of my mind I'm thinking, "This isn't important, it's just a doodle." And then something amazing comes out. Contrast this to sitting down in front of an expensive piece of paper. The pressure is on to create a masterpiece.

Brandon said...

Wonderful drawing. Thanks for sharing and for your inspiring blog!

Heidi Richter said...

What andrew wales said.

My favorite professor in undergrad told the story of a student of his who was afraid to start drawing on a piece of rather expensive drawing board they'd been required to purchase for a project. She felt too much pressure due to the fancy materials. So he threw her drawing board to the floor, stomped on it a couple times, and put it back on the drawing table saying "There! Now you're not afraid of it anymore!"

I think of that every time I feel intimidated by art materials I'm afraid to 'waste.'

Christy said...

Ive seen the loveliest drawings on newsprint slowly fall apart in time. I guess all you can really do is photograph it

Emily said...

I have often felt like my best drawings come out on newsprint - it's just so easy to control charcoal without making it look overworked on newsprint

r8r said...

The only thing to do is to get used to working with good paper all the time, as though that's all there is. How else do you get past that 'precious' stage?

Eric Orchard said...

I love newsprint because it insures you never get too precious about a drawing.

Patrick Waugh said...

oh man, newsprint and charcoal reminds me of 6 hour life drawing classes. By the end of the day we'd have charcoal everywhere. My class looked like a bunch of coal miners. It really is a great way to learn, especially on a huge piece of paper, that way you don't get caught up in little details.

Andrew Wales said...

Heidi,

That reminds me of something Winston Churchill said. He was an enthusiastic painter. When he was working on his first painting and agonizing over how to begin, a friend came in a smeared a glob of paint on to the sky and got it started for him. As he watched, he was convinced that the primary quality of a pinter was "audacity".

Michael said...

Erik: Awesome stuff!

I love newsprint for fast gesture drawings of the figure in action poses. No pressure!

Katherine said...

When I have an article in the paper that I want to keep, I photocopy it. The photocopy paper is much better quality and doesn't yellow. I guess you could do the same. Just for the record of the work, not for the original, obviously. And a piece of glass laminating plastic would stop the charcoal getting on the glass of the photocopier...

Stephen James. said...

And it comes in Smooth and Rough textures too.

Which do you prefer?

dketchek said...

I am so glad to see this comment! I have been saying to people for over 25 years that I wish I could find a pastel paper that replicates the feel of newsprint. There is nothing quite like it. Why can't they give it the same feel and yet have it be archival?

James Gurney said...

Stephen, I like both the rough and smooth newsprint. I wonder if they're making it a bit more archival than they used to. My old drawings on it are holding up better than I would have expected, as long as I don't subject it to direct sunlight.

Katherine, thanks for the good idea about photocopying.

Raymond A Stevens said...

I know this is an old thread (from '08) but I thought you and your followers might wish to know that certain newsprint is chemically treated so that it does not yellow and may last for years.

I work in the pressroom of a major newspaper that also operates an offset press that uses different paper than a regular newspaper press.
Much offset papers are used for long-lasting print runs like restaurant menus, etc and come in sizes from 36" to 12'' in width and from 30 lbs to 75 lbs in weight with various textures and treatments such as oil-parchment paper (and even some transparent papers similar to tracing paper).
Remnant rolls (what is left on a roll after a print-run) is usually recycled as waste.
Rem rolls can usually be purchased from the press' office for a few dollars ea. or sometimes for free (as donations to The Starving Artists Fund...with a membership of one).

As a perk of my day job I get all the rolls I want free so needles to say I have a closet full of paper that will last me for decades.
This endless supply of free or cheap paper certainly frees one from the concern of wasting paper and the Muse seems to like this freedom!

Below is a drawing I did in charcoal on oil-treated (similar to white parchment paper) newsprint that has not yellowed after at least 3 years now.


Unfortunately, this was a limited-run order of paper and I only had one rem roll...it's all gone now and I can't find more...(sob) I loved that paper!

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_7P7H12VjbEw/Se-G3QwyhlI/AAAAAAAAAIY/WurAaTYpeLo/s1600-h/skull1.jpg