I may hang a few ‘last century’ paintings and drawings of mine at my upcoming exhibition. I want to show viewers where I started from.
This afternoon I rooted through a box of ancient sketches and memories.
I was reminded of the joy and the importance of sketching everything, everywhere and all the time. It’s a habit I had as a student and later as a young mother.
Those were the pre-digital camera days when the cost of film and developing made picture-taking a rare event and encouraged drawing.
Last week I blogged about how artists can build skills, but forgot to mention this one: The opportunity to sketch everywhere is always available. I remember so clearly gathering with other students around my favourite art teacher, Audrey (Hosie) Garwood while she showed us how to sharpen a charcoal pencil. She said:
“You know, if you learn how to properly sharpen a pencil, you’ll never be bored. Even in a waiting room you won’t be bored. You can sketch the people around you and learn more about drawing.”
My friend in Toronto, artist Barbara Muir, does just that and posts her waiting room and restaurant sketches along with her vibrant paintings. I’m impressed by the power of a sketch to capture the spontaneity of a moment in time.
When I look back at my old sketches, they bring back so much for me. They recall the day, the feeling, and the emotion of the moment. I have replaced drawing with photo-taking but surely, there is room for both.
I ‘decorate’ the covers of my sketchbooks to find them more easily. I like using a spiral bound sketchbook because I can draw on a flattened page. And I prefer charcoal because I can draw with the charcoal stick and then use a piece of tissue or cloth to rub the marks around. and get lots of contrast.
Like any skill, sketching takes practice, practice, practice. At art school we were forbidden to use erasers so that we wouldn’t get hung up about the perfect line. This kept the drawing loose. Sketching is about spending more time looking at the subject than at the page.
It was fun for me to look through these drawings and a good reminder about the importance of drawing. But now it’s time to finish up my paintings in time for my show!