Friday, 30 January 2015

What is a Sketch? (Part Two: Why is a Sketch?)

A rough sketch of a sketching tool (lay figure)
holding a painting tool (brush)
A sketch is quick. But quick is relative... it depends on your experience, your ability, your medium, and the circumstances under which you are working.

A sketch is rough, approximate, not polished ... but do we want our artwork, our finished, handcrafted paintings, to be polished? Do we want them to be "just like a photograph"? (My opinion on that one is a resounding, no, followed by the question, why? Because if a painting mimics a photograph, then that painting is pointless. Quite possibly very well crafted, but utterly pointless).

What are sketches for

What do they do? Why do people make them? And what is the difference between a sketch and a doodle?

Sketches can be made for their own sake; for the pleasure of doing, and, if done well, for the later pleasure of looking.

Sketches can be made to capture a visual experience for later reference. A sketch is more personal than a photograph - it captures less detail but more feeling. Perhaps, if a sketch is intended to be taken away and used in the making of a painting, it might be backed up by a photograph. Or it may be that there is no camera, or that a camera cannot be used for some reason (I once found myself on a naturist beach with a view; I left my camera in my bag, to avoid upsetting anyone, and sketched the view, which I later painted from the sketch).

Sketches also make excellent mementos - they can be annotated and adjusted on the fly to suit the occasion. A sketchbook can be used as a sort of journal.

Sketches can be made from real life, or from imagination, or from some point in between.

Sketches can be experimental; if you have an idea, you can often try it out in a sketch.

Sketches can help the artist work out what they want to paint, and how. Existing sketches can provide inspiration or a specific, required element for a painting. New sketches can rough out ideas, help work out the composition, or solve some other problem.

It is not unusual, of course, for an artist to place the key elements of a painting by sketching directly onto the canvas. Such sketches are inherently ephemeral; they get painted over.

... And what is the difference between a sketch and a doodle?

Well, a doodle falls out of your noodle (head) but you have to fetch a sketch - that is, there is little forethought or attention paid to a doodle, but a sketch is more intensive and requires thinking about or close observation of the subject.

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