Saturday, August 29, 2015

not a sketch, not a drawing....

The sky is a deep blue today. The wind blows cool and steady from the south. There are spring sounds: a duck somewhere over near the lake, the chirp and giddy twitter of birds, kids squealing and yelling in the park.

When I sat by the river earlier in the day, the waves were dark blue, a deep cold dark blue and the boats tied to yellow buoys did not stay still.

Why am I suddenly inspired to write something here after an absence so long that these posts look like the work of a stranger? Because with some delight and exultation, I have rediscovered the phenomenon of 'the study'. Not the room full of books, but the drawing whose purpose is to look, observe, notice, explore, study a thing to understand it better, to become familiar with the way it is put together, its different angles, the way it occupies space. To learn it, not in the way of 'now I can draw faces' but in the spirit of recognising how jawlines change with age and how an eye sits in its socket and  brows can perch like hedges on the outcrops of the brows.

A study. Not a sketch. Here's the difference: a sketch is a (relatively) quick capture of the thing. A study is an exploration. Sometimes a dissection.

Because the boats moved around so much I worked fast, looking at how they changed shape as they moved. The result is not really a result. It is just the record of a learning process.

This is exciting to me because, for a long time, I have been uneasy with the way I feel about my sketchbooks. I don't want them to be nice, well composed, filled with 'great pages'. I don't want to think about my drawings in terms of how good they are or how satisfied I am that they capture something. Really what I want is for my sketchbooks to be full of activity, unselfconscious, dynamic, lively things in which beauty emerges in the way you see the beauty of a windswept face with wild and tangled hair, a song escaping from its lips, its eyes bright with adventure.


  1. Such great words (and studies anyway...) Evelyn, it just touched exactly how I feel about drawing/ doodling/ sketching/ studies !!

    1. Hi Michele,
      this is something that has been on my mind for a while...I'm glad you have a similar feeling. I really want to change my approach!

    2. I completely relate. People who see me "studying" with my watercolors and pens or friends who see my sketchbook resting on the kitchen counter inevitably ask if or when I'm selling my paintings. I tell them I'm not at all ambitious about them. I am learning. The usual retort is that people will buy them... It's interesting to me that art is spoken of spiritually but expected to be a commodity. Thanks for your post, it's thought provoking. I feel my own journaling coming on.

    3. Thanks - we live in an age where so much is regarded as property - even ideas. It's not easy to be in the space of creating without that mentality creeping in. Happy journalling!

  2. Great post! I've been thinking along those same lines lately.