As a travel and urban sketcher much of what I sketch is what I see in front of me as I “capture the moment.” Sketching is a way to immerse yourself in the time and place, it imprints the sounds and the sights far better than most anything else I know – it is as much about the activity as it is about the art that you produce. These moments are captured when, like an urban sketcher, I sketch onsite.
As a travelsketcher I also capture moments by sketching from a photo that I took while onsite. I did this sketch this morning from a photo I took on a walk through one of the farms that surrounds Lathebauderie, where we live. I know there are brave souls who endure the 1C days we have been having to sketch, I would rather sketch in the comfort of our wood stove.
There are many derelict properties scattered throughout the farmlands of Normandy, this one is just a nine minute walk on a road that winds through a couple of farms – often we pass by the gaze of curious cows, this is dairy country.
Earlier this week we watched The Nutcracker ballet on YouTube. When our daughter was young she danced in a company that did a significant production of Nutcracker so our Christmas season was dominated by rehearsals and performances – Tricia worked backstage, and I was an usher. Here is a sketch I did while we watched, it did capture the moment, but it was not specifically anything on the screen. It’s importance is the memories I had of when our daughter was young.
When I started doing sketching, watercolor, and acrylic on canvas many years ago I drew what I saw in front of me. These days creating from my imagination creates a moment instead of capturing one. Here are a few examples.
Winter is upon us which brings memories and images of snow covered cabins and trees. Sketching this with the golden light in the windows prompted a feeling of a cozy place protected from the elements.
Here is a cottage that could be in Normandy, and the kind of mountains that are indigenous to the Pacific Northwest of the USA.
I did this sketch yesterday of a place I would love to be, warm and rustic, probably near some mountains. Note the touches of personal, books, plants, and Neville of Normandie. (@nevilleofnormandie has his own Instagram page, check him out.)
These days I love creating places and objects from my memory or imagination, yet I doubt I could have done so 25 years a go. What happens is that when you sketch from life you create a mental database of images. Much as a musician learns patterns and riffs that they use intuitively, an artist over time remembers shapes and lines that you have used many times before. Improving as an artist is a combination of eye-hand coordination, and seeing things better, wether it is seeing what is in front of you at the moment or a moment you are constructing in your imagination. As a result the only way to become more comfortable as an artist is to do a lot of art, sketching daily yields so many benefits.
So keep traveling and sketching, even if it is just in your imagination.