sketchy project update
So, I’ve missed a few days, mostly because I completely forgot, but I’m doing pretty well. By “pretty well” I mean that I manage to toss out a 30-second sketch every day or so. I’m setting the bar low, low, low. Here’s one I did the other night of the deer in the yard. Clearly I’m going for “less is more.”
Actually, I’m reminding myself that this is a successful sketch because what I’m doing is capturing the general shape and movement of what I saw. This is not a finished drawing. It’s a bare outline. It’s practice. I suck at practicing. Ask my childhood piano teacher. Still, this exercise, of attempting one small sketch a day, is working old muscles long forgotten.
We watched a great PBS show the other night. It’s a series called art:21 or something like that. One of the artists featured had a habit of carrying around a sketchbook and was constantly drawing in it. Making bold lines, not really images of anything. Just impressions, quick gestures, getting the basic lines down. He said something like, “It’s a way of keeping my eye and hand together. It’s exercising the muscle. It’s for no other purpose than to just keep limber.” He also made the point that if you keep doing it and doing it, you’re going to get better in spite of yourself.
This is a good way of thinking about it. I get frustrated when things don’t turn out “beautiful.” I compare my sketches to Picasso’s sketches (seriously? why do I do this? I am crazy.) But really all I’m doing is warming up. Getting back in the game. Working old muscles. If I think about it that I’m not really trying to “make a drawing” then it’s easier. I’m not drawing. I’m sketching. I’m practicing.
I’m also realizing that materials have something to do with it. I’m going to experiment with different pencils, with pens, with different paper. Everyone likes something different. I think this pencil I have isn’t working for me. It’s a little thicker than I like, and I don’t love it being a mechanical pencil.
I’ve been thinking about when I took all my art courses in college. We had big huge newsprint tablets. We used sticks of charcoal (I love charcoal!). We went through paper like fire. It was fun. Lots of things didn’t turn out right. We stood up and made giant bold gesture drawings. We went out in the world and did continuous-line drawings. It was messy and big and disappointing but fun, and we did it for six to twelve hours a week.
So I think I can give it thirty seconds a day. And then, maybe next month, I take out a set of pencils instead of this crappy mechanical pencil, and I work on a few other aspects. I fill things in a little. I take a wee bit more time. And continue keeping my eye and hand together.