Wednesday, May 20, 2009

You never know what you'll find

Quick sketches enroute to a wedding.

Last week I was looking desperately for a sketch I KNEW I had made and which I wanted to make into a linocut. No luck. I looked through every sketchbook I had.

I thought.

I've been pulling sketchbooks off the shelf to share with a friend and colleague tomorrow (for a secret exciting reason to be named later) and voila! There, in the last place I expected, I found it. So... tomorrow expect a quick start to a new (only TWO passes, I SWEAR!) lino. Will simple be good? We'll see....

The curious thing about finding the sketch is that it was in a book marked "hundreds." A couple of years ago an oil painter friend and I challenged each other to create 3-4 thumbnail sketches each and every day for a year. 100 sketches per month! I had forgotten about what a fun and challenging exercise it was.

I had also forgotten that I had some interesting sketches in the books from that year. Weather, time, and bouts with laziness meant that I couldn't always make sketches from life, so I had to get creative about fulfilling the "assignment." It looks like I managed it in a few ways:

- Actual sketches of landscapes on location
- Life sketches at the zoo or museum
- Life sketches at the coffee shop
- Sketches of natural objects brought in to the house
- Sketches from photos
- and my personal favorite: Sketches from the TV! I had forgotten how fun this was. I would put in a DVD that I'd already seen a hundred times, and when an interesting composition came onscreen, I'd hit the Pause button. I limited myself to the length of time the image was paused before the screen saver came on.. on my machine I think that's only about 2 or 3 minutes. It was a GREAT exercise for recognizing strong compositions (and finding new respect for the cinematographer's craft), for finding the gesture of figures, and by golly, every once in a while I even managed to get a decent likeness of an actor in a very short amount of time.

Finding these books has rattled my cage a little bit. What am I doing to challenge myself right now? (Aside from the every day challenges of life in general.) I'm making a plan to spend a little time this weekend designing a new challenge and finding someone to help me stay accountable for it.

And starting a new lino from a long lost sketch.

Sketches from the front yard of my old apartment.


  1. Well, so long as you never misplace those "lucky" jammies...!
    I'm still struggling with drawing-a-day, travelling sketchbooks(2), prints for a show and I have not forgotten the reduction challenge.

  2. Nice. I was thinking quite recently about reprising my haiku-a-day journal, which I kept for a year and a half. I still compose haiku, almost with the same frequency, but they're scattered on scraps, in emails, and on the wind. These journals have their time, which in my life is sporadic, and I think it's time again. Thanks for the pics. I am remembering lessons from a drawing class of yours, thinking, "hmmm."

  3. How DO we get ourselves into these things? So many thoughts and ideas and projects going on simultaneously... it's quite amazing, really, that we ever get anything done.

    Jeff... I have a vision of a haiku journal with all the little scraps collected and glued in....or maybe a little cigar box full of haiku journals. Or....

  4. that hundreds book sounds like a really good idea :D might have to try that soon

  5. I took an art class on value one time and we were assigned a similar project: 4 sketches a day every day. Each week we were allowed to work with one more value, so for example the first week we only sketched in two values: pure black and pure white, the next week we added a third value, then a fourth, and so on. There were a lot of people in the class who complained bitterly about it. I wondered why they were even in the class. I was learning so much from the exercise I could almost feel my brain expanding and embracing this way of looking at things and drawing things.

    Love your idea to sketch from the DVD until the screen saver comes on. When you have a limited amount of time like that, the inner critic tends to not have enough time to tell you how badly you are doing.

    The quick sketches you did en route to a wedding - were you driving at the time? ;-)

  6. :-) Gabrielle... yes, I WAS driving, but I stopped to make sketches. Have you ever tried to sketch in a moving vehicle? It's quite challenging, but imperative that one has a chauffeur.