Friday, February 24, 2012
I recently posted a series of field sketches on "The Sketching Forum" (www.sketching.cc/} and have decided to do it here too. Plus I’m in desperate need of seeing if I can post via Dale’s Mac versus my PC.
Some of these sketches are quicker than others; the purpose of some is different than the purpose of others. So I’ll add a running commentary along with the drawings to explain why I did each one.
It been a good exercise to think about my sketching. It got me thinking about why do I sketch? -- My purpose is twofold. I sketch to capture moments in nature, often to capture a specific event or behavior; and I sketch to get better at sketching. My early sketchbooks tend to have very sloppy ‘just to remember the moment’ sketches and ‘encyclopedia’ type drawings . I tried to draw accurate animals -- stiff. Later I realized the importance of the character of the animal.
Capturing this ellusive character of an animal means sometimes I have to work quickly. I need to allow myself to make mistakes and to feel O.K. about the scribbles that happen along the way. If you thumb through my journals you’ll find a few drawings scratched out … I was way off base. You’d also find some drawings unfinished. If I don’t know where to go with a sketch of an animal I think it is better to quit than to create fictitious information. Mostly you’ll find a variety of loose sketches tucked in between lots of words. Very few pages are properly laid out, neat and tidy. In my mind it is a ‘working journal,’ not a finished product.
For me capturing a bird that I’ve never sketched takes practice. I wish I could just pop a little bird on a branch and know what kind of bird I’m looking at. Sometimes I get lucky, but I get luckier if I’ve drawn it before.
And now for some quick sketches on one of my favorite birds, sandhill cranes. For the past several years we have been fortunate to know of a nest in Yellowstone. I usually use a spotting scope when drawing the birds. I either sit outside with the scope on a tripod and I sit on a stool, or else I mount the scope on the car window. Either way both my hands are free.
I could have erased the words with photoshop elements, but it gives you a better idea of my journal if I leave them. I look at all these crane sketches and they take me back to a special place where I’ve spent many, many hours. The little arrow by the crane's neck is just a reminder to myself I should have drawn a longer neck.
I’m happiest when Dale is in position to photograph and I’m free to sketch.
Another of my favorite field sketches. I love it when I can say it all with just a few lines. Learning to draw just the essence has been harder for me than trying to include every feather.