On various sketching and drawing styles (autumn, 2005)

I gave some of my views on sketches compared to finished paintings at the bottom of page 22. This might be considered related to those observations.

At one end of the drawing spectrum is the very loose and carelessly scribbled sketch. This can be fun to look at even if you don't know what it's supposed to be. A lot of people think only of this style when they hear the word "sketch."

At the other end of the spectrum is the meticulously rendered drawing with photographic realism that took many hours of tedious labor to achieve.

Between these two is the vast area where most of us non-professional artists probably live, the realm of living sketches or drawings that depict recognizable subjects with a balance of freedom and accuracy.

We don't have time to waste on scribbles, and the invention of the camera has freed us from the obligation to slavishly record reality.

Sketching may be the only art we produce, and we want to make it worthwhile. We want to make stuff that we are proud to show to others, even if they are thumbing through a sketchbook rather than strolling through a gallery. This kind of art can exciting for both the artist and the viewer.

Above is a loose sketch of the far side of the Arakawa river where the Shinkawa river meets it with a controlled flow dam. I discovered they were planning to build a bridge across this scene next year, so I decided to sketch it while I could. Brush and ink with watercolor. (Click on the image for a larger view)

Thoughts on the relationship between ink line and watercolor wash

Ink and wash sketches can be compared to a man taking his dog for a walk. Ink lines are the man, and watercolor washes are his dog. Some ink and wash sketches have carefully rendered ink lines with neat washes that stay as close as possible within the areas defined in ink. Like a very respectable man with his very faithful dog on a short leash, keeping step. These may be necessary for medical and botanical illustrations, but are not very exciting, at least to me.

Some ink and wash drawings have both wild ink lines and wild washes. These are like a drunk man staggering all over the road with his dog off the leash going its own way, sniffing every bush and tree in sight. Their paths barely cross, and you are not sure if the dog is even with the man, or happens to be there by coincidence. In such a drawing, it is sometimes difficult to know what you are looking at, although it may be fun to observe.

Then there is my favorite style, the drunk man with his very faithful dog. No matter where he staggers, the dog faithfully stays with him. A very amusing sight. Wild ink lines with lots of life and maybe a bit of disrespect for the subject, coupled with watercolor washes that stay more or less with the lines, further defining and enhancing the sketch. For me, these are the most fun to do and to view.

Hmmm, all text and only one sketch on this page. If you feel deceived, I don't blame you! I'll try to do better on the next page.

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