Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The sketching connection

I've been trying to reconcile my sketchbook journal stuff with my painting practice, trying to work out the connection. The connection, of course, is me. But I'm not sure there's one beyond that.

My thinking about my painting is mostly in words - I write down ideas in a studio diary. The paintings are meticulously planned, fairly precise. I don't go off on any tangents once I start and I'm working towards a very clear vision I've had before I begin.

But the sketches are pure play. I want them to turn out, of course, but it doesn't matter too much if they don't. I suppose the purpose of the sketchbook is to experiment, sharpen my observation skills and my ability to translate what I see onto the page - and the decision-making process that goes along with that.

And it's about the actual experience, of course. The inward-focused activity of sketching amid the bustle of the city, for example (with an excellent cup of coffee)...well, you can't beat it.

The best thing I've read about sketching recently is in Danny Gregory's book Everyday Matters. He's writing about the process of seeing while drawing:

'No matter what I looked at in this way, I saw beauty and felt love. It was very weird but it happened again and again. When I slowed way down and let my mind go, I had the same incredibly sensual experience. It didn't matter what I drew. And then I discovered that it didn't matter what the drawing was like. In fact, I could simply toss it away, like the skin of a banana. What mattered was the slow, careful gaze.'

Yeah, what he said.