Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Sketching Again

With the jolt of September arriving, I'm realizing I've let a lot of things slide the last month or so, including my sketching. So yesterday I planned my walk for city beach with the idea I would also stop to sketch one of the big shelters there. It's those big supporting timbers set at angles that I've been studying as I pass by, but I'm also intrigued by the grand swoop of the roof. I had the same problem as when I sketched the train station - did not get proportions started correctly and ran out of room to get the full width of the rooflines and those timbers. I instinctive start at the top when perhaps I should start by sketching in the widest part of my subject. All part of the learning process. It was a gray day but not too cool to be in shirt sleeves. The life guards are no longer on duty and only a few people splashing about in the water, but still there are people enjoying the park. I added the bits of color once home.

I've run across another "in praise of sketching" blog post, so am sending you over there to read. It comes again from Austin Kleon but he quotes from Roger Ebert (the late film critic) and how he got into sketching, why he kept it up. Interesting to hear some of the same observations about sketching that I've heard from so many other quarters and have experienced myself, but this time not from someone who was also an artist of some kind. Here's a taste:

"That was the thing no one told me about. By sitting somewhere and sketching something, I was forced to really look at it, again and again, and ask my mind to translate its essence through my fingers onto the paper. The subject of my drawing was fixed permanently in my memory. Oh, I “remember” places I’ve been and things I’ve seen. I could tell you about sitting in a pub on Kings’ Road and seeing a table of spike-haired kids starting a little fire in an ash tray with some lighter fluid. I could tell you, and you would be told, and that would be that. But in sketching it I preserved it. I had observed it.
I found this was a benefit that rendered the quality of my drawings irrelevant. Whether they were good or bad had nothing to do with their most valuable asset: They were a means of experiencing a place or a moment more deeply. The practice had another merit. It dropped me out of time. I would begin a sketch or watercolor and fall into a waking reverie. Words left my mind. A zone of concentration formed. I didn’t think a tree or a window. I didn’t think deliberately at all. My eyes saw and my fingers moved and the drawing happened. Conscious thought was what I had to escape, so I wouldn’t think, Wait! This doesn’t look anything like that tree! or I wish I knew how to draw a tree! I began to understand why Annette said finish every drawing you start. By abandoning perfectionism you liberate yourself to draw your way. And nobody else can draw the way you do."
 Go read the entire post here, which includes some additional links.


June said...

love the quote and think it's right on the mark. In addtion, while I understand your problem about getting the positioning of your sketches onto your page (I'm working on the same thing at this very moment), in this case, I think going off the page is very effective. It makes the roof even more delicious and I didn't notice the posts until I read your comments. Nice job and you've read your Ebert, so you know, regardless of what praise comes your way, you've already accomplished what you needed to.

Chris said...

Good to see you sketching again. Love the quotes. Boy finish every drawing is an interesting idea. I wonder how many I have started and quit on in my life. At least I no longer tear them out of my sketchbook like I used to.

Michele Matucheski said...

Ah, Roger Ebert -- a man of many talents! I didn't know he sketched, too! Your sketching is coming along nicely! You are making a good case for me to get back to it as a regular discipline. I remember the years I did The Sketchbook Challenge with a weekly something in the book, the work there spilled over and translated into the other parts of my creativity. It was great for productivity1

Lucia Sasaki said...

Hi Sheila!
Thanks for sharing your drawing, for your reflections and your quoting. I liked the part about finishing every drawing you make and letting go of perfectionism because nobody draws like me.
Nowadays I have been attending sumie (japanese kind of painting) classes and I started to trying to learn watercolor by miself (no means of affording both techniques at the same time)
I love being librarian, but, now I feel I need other kind of stimulus in my life.
Thanks so much for being an inspiration for me.