For a while I would sketch all the time. I thought it would be cool to use the Moleskin sketchbooks that (they say) famous artists used to scrawl out plans for their masterpieces. I found that sketching, which I assume is a quick version of drawing, helped me to appreciate the subject at which I was looking. For example, I found myself appreciating angles between different planes of building edifices; gradients of dark and light patches, their shapes and their relationships to each other; proportions and many other things. Sketching came in handy in situations that required waiting: in doctors’ offices, five minutes of free time here and there and shopping excursions where I would elect to stay in the car.

Recent experiments

I consider myself lucky in the success of my recent experiments about barriers (Back to Abstract?, Variation, My Niche). But I have so many ideas to try and I don’t really trust myself to present them coherently directly onto the watercolor paper. I am afraid that I will jumble everything up.  So I decided to try sketching out some of my thoughts.

I have some guidelines in which I am trying to work for my series about barriers. The inspiration for this series of paintings is the absolute separation between my world and the world of my older brother who is profoundly retarded, autistic and nonverbal. I devoted the first 11 months of this blog to documenting my efforts of getting to know him, and concluded that it was impossible. Now I am trying to express our separate realms, visually. An obvious device that I have used in these paintings is dividing the paper into two sections; I also developed a series of icons that serve as a visual shorthand. From the appropriate arrangement of these icons, I can develop a coherent visual design and meaningful narrative.

Sketching the abstract

Sketching an abstract idea is quite different from sketching from life or even still life. I use symbols (the icons) that are meaningful to me as a kind of meta language; but the most important factor in a sketch is the design. As I mentioned above, within the design a narrative must exist. When the sketch is satisfactory, I am not worried about faithfully transferring it to the watercolor paper. As long as I know the relationships among the symbols and how all the elements fit on the paper, I can proceed comfortably. It is like having a bird’s eye view of the subject instead of having tunnel vision.

That being said…

I struggled with sketching today, and nothing seemed to work. So instead of posting my sketches, I want to practice for another day or two.

Today’s study

I completed this study yesterday. It is the fourth in the ‘Barrier’ study series. All the sketching was done with permanent ink directly onto the rough textured paper. I also made use of the masking fluid (which I thought I would never use again), as I intended to use graded washes in the top and bottom portions of the painting. In addition to the diagonal line dividing the paper, the top half represents another barrier – a window.

Abstract Expressionist Watercolor indicating a barrier between upper and lower halves of painting

Barrier #4
7″x10″ 140# Rough Watercolor Block

2 thoughts on “Sketching

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