Sunday, December 18, 2016

Drawing From Life's Lessons

Random sketches from one of my many sketchbooks. 
I'm still plugging away on this infamous book that I was supposed to have finished by the end of this year. Sadly I probably won't meet my deadline but I'm farther along than I was at the beginning of the year and I've amassed a great deal of information along the way.
This week I've been reading the book, Drawing from Life by Clint Brown and Cheryl McLean. I picked it up at the Half Price Bookstore. According to the sticker on it it was used as a textbook at Luther College, wherever that is. It struck me as odd, do schools usually have textbooks for art classes? Art classes other than Art History and Art Appreciation that is. From what I've heard from almost everybody who's ever gone to art school, a textbook could greatly enhance the education experience. I know my drawing professor was a huge waste of time and money but I had no choice, she was all there was. She didn't ever teach us anything except bits and pieces of the Japanese alphabet, which is better than nothing I guess.
The book is fairly well written with lots of drawing examples to help explain the text. It even went so far as to define sketch vs. drawing. "To sketch implies quickly conjuring or expressing in rough form the essentials of an idea or subject, without a great deal of refinement."  "Drawing is an evolutionary process that includes beginning, defining, and refining stages.  These stages and their sequence are rarely apparent in a highly finished work."
It goes on to explain how most artists keep their exploratory sketches for their eyes only.  "Historians have discovered that Michelangelo Buonarroti actually destroyed many of his rough sketches and working drawings, preferring the world not know how arduously he had labored in the development of some of his ideas."
I can certainly understand the magician not wanting to show everyone how he does his tricks but we all know the magician doesn't take the stage without practicing their act.
Edward Hopper sketches from Drawing from Life. 
For me, I'm extremely grateful that not everyone destroyed their sketches.  "Serious artists have used quick sketches and gesture or action drawings for a long time and for a variety of reasons. Sketches can hold a wealth of information and are often full of life."  "Changes are common, even for the old masters, and a sketch is often only a beginning, the start of an investigation, a visual not to be amplified and developed further,"


  1. Luther is in Decorah. Didn't even know they had an art department! I love other people's sketches (sometimes more than the paintings...Goya for example). BTW the pair of figures below the guitarist are wonderful - great gesture yet quite complete as is.

  2. LOL, I don't know where Decorah is either, I'll have to look it up. I enjoy looking at the sketches too, they tell the whole story, if there's a story to tell. It's kind of like reading the rough draft for a novel. It's fun to see how the writer changes things and characters evolve.
    The pair of figures was from that Civil War reenactment we went to. Their clothing was perfect for practicing folds, but I also liked how they were walking away from me, their pose could be used in any manner of setting. Two boys walking to the candy store, walking to school, walking to steal a pie out of a's a good reference sketch.