Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Sketches - Up Close And Personal

The displayed sketches are what I call ‘Up Close and Personal’. A technique I used eons ago when I was a self taught artist.

Let me explain.

Looking back through years of sketches I’ve currently stopped at the late 70’s….before I embarked on formal art studies at a local university. When sketching during this period I was intimidated by what I did not know. I was so certain what I produced was all wrong, strictly hit and miss; I had no formal training, what did I know about producing art?

Well, as I look at these sketches I now discover I did know the fundamentals….fundamentals I later studied very hard to learn and describe for four years in formal studies. Fundamentals which I now realize are iinherent in anyone with an artistic spirit without knowing the formal definitions. Composition, scale, proportion, rhythm, shape, form, texture, line, emphasis and focal point. These were always there but just lacked the oral vocabulary, but certainly not the visual vocabulary.  I've even added notes on the drawing and indicated the angle of the sun!  Wow!  Haven't done that in years!

Analyzing these sketches today I also see a quality which was not formally taught….the ‘up close and personal’ attribute which I today find lacking in my work.

I worked hard at these sketches, staring for long periods of time trying to sense the vitality, the basic composition of each piece I sketched…..was it wood, did it have a life, how was it formed, how did it flow in space, what made it unique… did it ‘feel’, how did it make me feel? I carefully followed the rhythm created by falling branches, felt the volume of the tree trunk, the strength and character of the object and my sensitivity to its being; and would simply draw and draw and draw!

I guess my 92 year old mother was right….I produced better art work when I didn’t know what I was doing; simply studying ‘up close and personal’. This is a tactic I intend to refresh and renew in coming days in my artistic pursuit…..a journey back in order to move forward….. an ‘Up Close and Personal’ journey.

The old apple tree with remains of a tree house was also sketched with love and remembrance. From the time my four year old son could hold a little hammer and saw he built tree forts. Most destroyed by the local bully, but this one in a friend’s yard remained. I could see him hammering and sawing away in utter contentment as I sketched this tree ….this later became a painting which someone grabbed right away.  Remembering my Jamie.


  1. I posted a comment earlier it did not post. What Isaid was that this post was one I will always remember it has made me decide that I am and never will be an artist so stop wasting my time. I just do not have what this blog talks about. Thank you Ruby .

  2. Ah, but you are wrong Ralph. Looking at your paintings they are all sensitive to the material you work with and to the subject.

    Would that I could achieve the spirit and 'happy' feeling of your paintings.

  3. This technique termed by you as "Up close & personal" is indeed a style that comes from your heart, it needs no formal art school for its expression, for it comes right from the core of your being. The more you look at it the more it throws ideas, showing very clearly, that this work of art is coming directly from God guiding you to manifest, your subconscious feeling into beautiful conscious art.
    I love the way you have analysed your own work.