Life has been all too hectic lately. But I do have this post on sketching versus drawing ready -- another essay I wrote for The Sketching Forum ( http://sketching.cc/ ). More wanderings in the field soon to come.
When I joined The Sketching forum I knew I was joining a ‘sketching’ forum. I didn’t bother to differentiate between sketching and drawing. I looked at various postings and figured I belonged. Then the back and forth of ideas got me thinking. What is the difference?
At first it wasn’t clear to me. Where does one draw the line between one and the other? It is rather like fine art and illustration. Often you know which one you are looking at, but there is also a grey area in between.
About two weeks ago, I was going through some of my old journals. Suddenly it dawned on me. I could draw long before I could sketch. In fact I could draw quite well long before I could sketch, partly because I wasn’t even trying to sketch well. Sketching as an art form wasn’t even on my radar. My earliest journals are mostly words, some quick thumbnails that were only intended to remember an event, and some careful drawings.
I bumped along for twenty more years. I painted a lot and did some pen and ink illustrating. Had my work accepted in some very nice places, but my ability to sketch hardly grew.
As I mentioned in an earlier post in 1984 I attended a week long workshop taught by Jack Hines, Jessica Zemsky, Veryl Goodnight and Robert Bateman. And I went to the same workshop in 1987. Suddenly I saw sketching as a means to become a better artist -- learning to really see the world and to capture it. I wanted a sketch to say something, to capture the character, and not just be a reminder. I dared to be much bolder. There is a quote in The Art of Robert Bateman, “ A great master once said, ‘In order to learn to draw you have to make two thousand mistakes. Get busy and start making them.’” I think this applies to sketching even more than drawing.
My ability to sketch jumped forward. I’ve long sensed that real growth in my artistic ability tends to be in jumps, not an even path. I jumped. Thumbing through my journals for the next few years show some sketches that sing, some fall flat on their face .... but I was reaching out and trying. My sketches had very little attention to fur, feathers, bark ... Form and light had suddenly become more important. Thinking about a light source is often the key to good form. Successful sketches captured the gesture. Each sketch tended to be of a specific individual, not something generic. Sketches were done quickly. Drawings were done carefully.
I have a strong sense that sketching comes from somewhere within, sort of zen. When I’m drawing I’m thinking about what I’m doing; but sketching doesn’t give me time for much thought. I’m accessing a skill I’ve slowly developed.
I’m currently enjoying a very different art journey than the one I followed for so many years.