"Hold Still!" is often a common phrase that you'll hear from artists. Certainly for painting and drawing you need stillness, right? I'm not so sure about that. For me, when I'm sketching, drawing or painting I enjoy some degree of movement. Sometimes the movement is subtle, like the small movements of a knitter's hands, and sometimes the movement is expansive, like a cat jumping onto an ottoman.
I think it's this movement that makes a work come alive. But how to capture it? For me, it's entirely about observation and quickness. Thinking is your enemy with this sort of work. You have to let your hand move freely and not worry about the results. Many of my sketches just come out as squiggles and trailing lines. Many of them are simply silhouettes of the subject. Nothing more than lines and shapes. However, I really believe this is the foundation of great art. Check out what Delacroix has to say about it ⬇below⬇.
During the summer, I became friendly with another student in the MA program. She admired my sketches and asked about them. I suggested that we sketch outside together and talk about it. We found a spot near the school where some construction workers were working on replacing bricks on a building. The workers were moving all about, moving up and down the scaffolding and ladders. Perfect! So we sat there and just drew these guys as they worked. Whether or not our sketches were good didn't matter. We had fun and created a memory. And my main takeaway was to silence the voice inside me that says, "This has to be perfect."
I don't have much advice in terms of technique, but I would encourage everyone to sketch from life. And for me, it helps to not judge my sketches. Some of them turn out well, but most of mine are not meant to be judged as works of art. So please be kind to yourselves also.
“If you are not skillful enough to sketch a man falling out of a window during the time it takes him to get from the fifth story to the ground then you will never be able to produce monumental work…Before you begin, study unceasingly, but once started…you must execute freely.” - Eugène Delacroix
Here are some recent sketches from my D.C trip and of more mundane subjects at home. I always like drawing interesting shapes and value patterns that catch my eye. It's also nice to sketch specific subjects and to think of my sketchbook as a visual journey; this is why I almost always date my drawings and include a little description.
What I enjoy about sketching is just the complete freedom of it. I like the fact that it's such a simple pastime which requires just pencil and paper. It just feels good to move the pencil on the paper and not to worry about the final results. Sketching also allows me to observe the world around me and to find the beauty in simple things. I could go on for ages about what sketching means to me.
My fall semester of teaching is nearing completion so I'll be sketching and painting more as the winter sets in.