Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Sketchbook Education

lighthouse by Lori Levin "Leftovers"
(Finns Point Lighthouse)
sketch in moleskine

"Positive and Negative"

sketch in moleskine

"When Rain Doesn't Matter"

sketch in moleskine

Often I'm asked how long I spend sketching and why do not all things in my sketchbook turn into paintings. The answer is both simple and complicated. So here's my best effort at an explanation.

I set out to do at least 2 sketches a week in my book and each takes about 45 minutes once I settle on a location and a composition. Sometimes I do more and sometimes less. I can tell you that when I do less my work suffers and I have a feeling of disconnect. My sketches are the medicine for the ills of my art or a vitamin that supplies what I'm not getting in my regular art diet.

That brings me to why not everything becomes a painting. Sketching is immediate. It requires my mind to quiet and to be very much in the moment. Without knowing it I often am getting an education in composition, value and use of line. If I spend enough time doing it, I no longer worry if a sketch will come out good or "ruin my book". The law of averages will make the book appear to be pleasing to the eye. Also, without trying I will work out stale compositions and come up with new ways of looking at things. I notice my studio work becomes more decisive and less timid the more time I spend with my moleskine.

Yes, this was what the professors in college tried to teach us. I had many sketchbooks then but never kept them faithfully. I was always just looking for the means to an end. It often felt like an hour I couldn't afford to spare. Now I feel as I cannot afford not to spend an hour connecting with my pencil. Again a sign I have grown up a little. The funny thing is, sketching is play. Maybe I've figured out how to be a child again? I believe it is something even better.


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