Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Drawing Practice

Did you get any advice when you were coming up that was particularly useful?

One of the things I learned the most from was a school program in Paris and Vicenza. We weren’t allowed to take photographs – everything that we responded to, we had to draw. One of my struggles now is finding more time to draw, and to get back in touch with that.”
Chief of Operations N. Scott Johnson of Richard Meier & Partners Architects.

I’ve always loved to draw.

One of my earliest memories is sitting at the table in my Nanny and Pop’s house trying to draw cowboys and Indians. I couldn’t draw the gun in the cowboy’s hand so I asked my Dad to help me. He did it perfectly.

(I must have been about 17 at the time.)

I also remember trying to draw a reindeer in Mrs. Lloyd’s class in Tonysguboriau Primary School. I couldn’t, but the next day the head teacher came in with a stencil for me to draw around.

When I was a teenager I would go out most days during the school holidays (or when I was skiving) to sketch. I walked miles and filled sketchbooks. Some of the sketches I worked up into detailed coloured studies. I’m sure they are still knocking around somewhere.

Walking, sketching and taking photos is still the bedrock of what I do. For me, it’s the equivalent of practicing my scales on the piano every day … well, most days … OK, some days.

And I’ve come to terms with drawing the same things over and over again. It’s not about originality or creativity – it’s about practice.

But in the last few weeks there has been an interesting development.

A shift occurred as I sketched a tree. At some point I stopped sketching and started drawing.

For me, there’s a difference.

A sketch is a quick, unrefined representation of a thing. A drawing is much more imaginative, complex, detailed, worked. I was no longer representing the tree but simply referencing it as a source for a drawing. Although I was still looking at the tree and down at the page (as you do when sketching) I was now letting the pen (I usually sketch with a ballpoint pen) take flight and move more freely across the page. I was working into the image, adding depth and intensity, allowing the ink to blotch and working it onto the paper.

These sketches / drawings are still rough and ready and I plan to work some of them up into fully-fledged drawings to be mounted, framed and sold. (When I’ve done this in the past they’ve proved very popular.)

It doesn’t happen every time I go out sketching – some days I feel like I can’t draw to save my life – but when it does, and the “flow” kicks in, it’s a deeply satisfying experience. When it’s not there I just carry on with the practice of sketching as I go.

My enjoyment of the process must have released endorphins into my brain, though, because now it’s not a discipline … it’s an addiction.

Love your detail of the process Peter. I have to become addicted to it so that I can just get on and do it. I suppose it helps first to have a notebook and pencil/pen to hand to sketch in. Food for thought.
Yeas Joanna ... I've taken to carrying a sketchbook, pen and camera with me wherever I go. And looking ... always looking.
loooove these drawings! I never could just sketch - they always turned into drawings! love the idea of sketching though, maybe I'll try again one day.
Claire ... take your camera to lots of places and take lots of photos. My photographer friend, David Heke, regards his camera as his sketchbook.
Some pretty designs alright. Doing the painting yourselves is more fun but a good place for ideas for more design is this site of wahooart.com, that I use to help with my wall decorations.
You can browse for a painting like this The tree, by 20th century Czech artist, Frantisek Kupka, for example, http://EN.WahooArt.com/A55A04/w.nsf/OPRA/BRUE-8LHUQV , that can be ordered on line and delivered to you.

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