Sketching

Tue, Mar 27, 2018

I’m trying to evolve a dependable, repeatable sketching style for my trip to Japan, where I’ll be attempting to make quite a few drawings as we travel around.

Pagoda in Beijing's Summer Palace, from my visit there a couple of years ago

Pagoda in Beijing's Summer Palace, from my visit there a couple of years ago

I’ve always thought that anyone can be taught to draw. For Victorian ladies and gentlemen, who were taught to sketch, and sketch competently, it was virtually a sine qua non of being civilised.

I’m also a fan of Ruskin’s observations about drawing. He was insitent that the point of learning to draw, for the ordinary person, was to improve their attentiveness to the world. Here’s a longish quote from him

‘Let two persons go out for a walk; the one a good sketcher, the other having no taste of the kind. Let them go down a green lane. There will be a great difference in the scene as perceived by the two individuals. The one will see a lane and trees; he will perceive the trees to be green, though he will think nothing about it; he will see that the sun shines, and that it has a cheerful effect; and that’s all! But what will the sketcher see? His eye is accustomed to search into the cause of beauty, and penetrate the minutest parts of loveliness. He looks up, and observes how the showery and subdivided sunshine comes sprinkled down among the gleaming leaves overhead, till the air is filled with the emerald light. He will see here and there a bough emerging from the veil of leaves, he will see the jewel brightness of the emerald moss and the variegated and fantastic lichens, white and blue, purple and red, all mellowed and mingled into a single garment of beauty. Then come the cavernous trunks and the twisted roots that grasp with their snake-like coils at the steep bank, whose turfy slope is inlaid with flowers of a thousand dyes. Is not this worth seeing? Yet if you are not a sketcher you will pass along the green lane, and when you come home again, have nothing to say or to think about it, but that you went down such and such a lane.’

But I don’t yet have a settled, dependable style of my own. I’m too influenced by the last artist I was looking at. I think the only way I’ll arrive at something I’m content with is by practising, a lot.


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