The walls of my studio are covered with tiny thumbnail sketches, much to the chagrin of those neat-niks that have sometimes shared studio space with me. Most of the time I barely notice them; but the other day while working on a video studio tour, I got to thinking about these thumbnails...where they come from and what they become.
Way back in my art school days every project began with dozens of thumbnail sketches and I came to dread making them. I preferred to let the piece “evolve." Translation: I was too undisciplined (lazy) to do the planning. Well, there’s nothing like making a business out of your art to knock poor planning out of you. Now I do hundreds of tiny “thumbnails." Some end up becoming paintings or art glass for which I found the planning of sketches absolutely essential. This is especially true for my paintings because I add glass embellishments to them...thus the "fire" part of the title of this post!
I think I, like many artists, was afraid to plan too much and get too "business like" about art because it would then cease to be fun and turn into work. I recently saw a video where renowned glass blower, Dale Chihuly, said something similar regarding how long he would continue doing what he does. “Till it ceases to be fun; then I’ll stop” was his comment. The element of fun is very important to us as artists because “fun” is closely tied to spontaneity and energy. Without those elements, the art dies, or at least struggles... but without the planning, the whole career is stunted.
In elementary school I got in a lot of trouble because of my doodling and drawing. Teachers thought I wasn’t listening, but now I realize I find it very hard to listen without doing something with my hands. It’s probably a symptom of some kind of learning disorder but it’s led me to carry one of those little moleskin sketch books with me at all times to pull out during church sermons or talks I attend or while watching TV in the evenings. Without really worrying about the final product, I draw a little freehand rectangle and let my pencil fill it in with whatever images happen to be in my mind at the time. My best pieces have come out of this process even though that is seldom the “goal." Keeping the sketches as a fun little exercise on its own, keeps it fresh and fun.and sometimes they grow up and become actual paintings like these below.
"Harbor City" 18 x 26"
"The Peacock Tree" 18 x 26"
"Dream Pilot" 18 x 26"
"Anniversary Dance" 12 x 22"
Thanks for reading and Happy Sketching......