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.