Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Creative Process - Sketching

Michelangelo Studies
I have been sketching. Many people are not as aware of this skeleton of a work of art as they might be since the advent of scanners and abstract movements. So easy to slap a photograph on the scanner, reduce it to outlines on a photo program and then print it to the applicable size for transfer to canvas or board. But there is something so very calming about curling up on the sofa with a sketch book and letting the ideas flow.

In an emotional froth of late I have found it difficult to sit in the studio and apply colors to canvas. But my artist mind requires exercising so I decided to develop new sketches for future paintings. Sketch books are a great place to work out perspective and compositional issues. Just because you "composed" it in the view finder of your Nikon D90 does not mean it will work well as a painting. Drawing allows you to erase! With my church paintings I often erase surrounding buildings or modifications to the basic structure that distract. I totally re-arrange canyon walls.

It is wise I think while sketching to not always look at a "finished" composition. The little detail sketches that populate the sketch books of Michelangelo and Da Vinci are a case in point. And often I have worked on a detail with the idea of where it would fit in a larger canvas to find it stands alone or that it dictates its own setting.

Sketching is letting the muse free. Always wise to keep the eraser at a distance. Don't worry about getting the anatomy just right - let the composition flow. I know I should free sketch more often. But when I am rushed to produce for a show it is often too easy to pull out a previous sketch and use all or part of it again for a new work. But in the last couple of days I have developed eight new prospective compositions by just sketching. And oh, the peace it has brought.


  1. I love these!
    Of course getting to know another artist by copying their work is standard in art schools, but there is so much inspiration lying dormant in such activity!

  2. I hope not to seem bitchy but that's not Michelangelo, it's Pontormo.


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