Class Notes - The SKETCH
Do I hear a collective groan?
I always feel a little "parental" when talking about doing a sketch before the painting; like saying "Eat your vegetables; they're good for you" - maybe reason enough NOT to do it; oops, let's not go that way.
I painted in the landscape for years without doing preliminary sketches and arrogantly felt that I didn't need to. What would it serve?
Though, in my past life as a graphic designer, the sketch/layout was the way to communicate my thoughts for everything, from art directing an illustrator or photographer to communicating visual concepts to a client. The layout was the visual language we spoke - NOT doing a layout would have been like suddenly becoming mute - by my own hand; not even an option. But, what does that have to do with the painter?
At this point, my brain wants to go out into a zillion directions- let me just say - the most common thing I hear from student painters, and even the more advanced painter, in the landscape is: "I'm lost". Ever been lost in the landscape? Ever found yourself miles up a trail with no water bottle, no lunch, no end in sight and really big blisters? (Gee, it was so beautiful, I just had to JUMP in and GO). It's called being unprepared and it can ruin the day, the hike, the painting.
The sketch is that bit of preparation that can make or break the whole day. My plein air sketches are simple, small, but are the map that keeps me ON the trail to the finish. See the next POST: we left the site way before that painting was done, but - not without a sketch. That map helped bring it together in the studio. I rely on the sketch because in it, I have already organized the values, the shapes and my thoughts on the scene; the photo is only documentation of the day. The sketch is my mind on the subject.
Some small photos here are examples of the type of sketch I do -
2 value, simple, done with a fat Sharpie; cometimes called a NOTAN. I am not selling this type of sketch but the idea that any sketch - is a Good Thing -
and it IS good for you.