When I was young and listened to older artist talk about art, telling me what was important, I was always told, that sketching was the most important thing in the world. I did, what I imagine everyone else would in my position: I bought sketchbooks and dutifully tried to fill them. I tried sketching people in the city bus, but the images sucked , since the bus was moving and the lines were…well; sketchy.
During the last 10 years I have bought so many sketching books, with the heartfelt intention of filling them. But no matter how hard I try or how “right” I know it is or would be, I just cannot seem to fill them. They keep sitting there on a shelf with only the first 10 pages or less decorated. I always felt bad or “less artistic” for not having the burning urge to sketch all the time.
A year or so ago I traveled to Santiago with the fantastic artist Steve Prescott and I saw to my horror that he had brought a sketchbook and I had not. What was even worse was that the sketches in there was all finished pencil drawings. I flipped through and saw none of the aggressively faceless doodles that resembles my sketches. Up until then I hadn’t realised the enormous difference in the way of sketching. Some artist do an almost finished drawing and some stops right the moment the figure is almost recognizable…needless to say I am in the last section.
Anyway; Steves “sketches” are some of the best I ever saw. I bought a sketchbook when I got home and started sketching to make a book like Steves. I think there is almost 3 drawings in it now.
What I think I just have to swallow, is the fact that I am not a sketching artist. My “magic”, if you´´ call it that, happens when I start to paint. My roughs are exactly that. They are totally unfit for beeing called drawings. But what they lack in finish, they have in energy. What I aim for in sketching is dynamic shape and gesture. As soon as I got that down the rest starts to feel boring to me. I think it started when I had to transfer a sketch to board. I was transferring by smearing the back side with pencil and drawing on top of the line, thus pressing the graphite onto the board. The transfer was really messy and not very precise, so Ihad to go over it and draw up all the line one more time. Then I would ink it to keep the line from disappearing during the first layer of paint. If you count the numbers of times I went over the same lines in a sketch it comes down to 4. No wonder it gets boring. I have moved on to sketching only in thumb size and keeping all the details as face hands clothes and details for the board drawing. This way I keep it fresh and alive and interesting.
I think this is why the digital painting has seemed so appealing to me. The jump from rough, aggressive sketching to the time you start thinking of light and lay on color is really short. Sometimes not even a jump. I have experimented in drawing directly in color no sketch or anything. It seems like total free falling without parachute, when you come from a background of pencil and ink line and greytones and then color. But I like the new approach a lot. I needed a kick out of my comfort zone.
In digital painting I imagine I can get the full benefit of my erratic sketching style.