14 January 2015

I'm In School

Ross Street Patio - Pen and watercolour - From Sketchbook

At the end of every year I always make a list of goals and such for my career. These goals are usually divided into separate focus areas business/marketing/skills/etc. I always start the new year with something that works toward my learning/skills goals. This year I was going to dedicate January to going through my painting videos and doing master copies or following along with the videos, but at the last minute I had a change of plans.

I was gifted with not one but 2 bigger moleskins at Christmas. I do have a few other sketchbooks, but I have mostly been using them for pre-painting sketches, notan drawings, and jotting down quick ideas. They are not the type of sketchbooks that you'd want to pass down or have other people see. They are messy and unattractive, with the exception of my Vision Quest idea sketches.

Last year I tried to get in the habit of bringing them with me when I went plein air painting and doing some charcoal drawings. That's just it though.....I was doing drawings rather than sketches. I have always loved the illustrative type sketchbooks that other people keep, so when I stumbled upon an online Sketchbook workshop, I signed up. Daily sketching was already on my list of goals, so what could be more perfect.

A Drawing - Beauty - Charcoal - 8x10"

Last night I was having a conversation with my husband about how I really can't sketch. He asked what the heck I was talking about and that my drawings are excellent. That's just it though....if I sit down and really study a thing and take my time (especially with graphite or charcoal which is so forgiving when a line gets misplaced), I can draw. Sketching is that quick mental note of a scene, person or thing, done quickly without concern about realistic rendering. At least that's my view of the differentiation between the two.

To sit down in a coffee shop and quickly capture the patrons and atmosphere is not something I can do. The sketch above was from a photograph, but that's the type of quick sketch I'd like to be able to do in a few minutes while sitting there with a pen - without the benefit of people being frozen in their movements. With people moving about you have just a brief moment to observe and capture their gestures.

Why would I want to focus on something that seems so frivolous and amateurish compared to my paintings?

It's about practicing and keeping your skills tuned. A singer has their scales, an artist their sketchbook. It's about the ability to see and accurate observation. It's about improving the hand eye communication. And it's about having fun.

Sketchbook page about an exhibit coming to the Vancouver's art gallery.