I’ve recently begun to make these ‘walking drawings’ in my sketchbook. Thus combining three of the most important aspects of my art practice- walking, observation and drawing. The aim of this is to make a very quick expression of a moment or experience on one of my walks from some of the more inhospitable (wilder?) locations, or when it is difficult to stop for a while. I am carrying only a marker pen and a small A5 notebook. Drawings are completed on foot, usually in less than a minute or two. I aim to do much more of this over the forthcoming months, and carry my sketchbook everywhere! I’ve also begun to develop some of these drawings into paintings back in the studio. This is proving a challenging and engaging process that avoids too much reliance on photographs as reference material.
So why sketch? I do take photographs on my walks that stand as works in their own right, and occasionally capture images because I’d like to refer to them in the studio; so why isn’t this enough? A drawing (or a painting) is by nature completely different to a photograph, and takes on so many forms that it is difficult to define in just a few words. A drawing encompasses the passage of time, and the shifting of light and shapes across the landscape; allowing the draw-er to engage in a special kind of seeing and understanding. It contains a combination of sights, thoughts, feelings and experiences made visible through a series of gestures that create marks and lines on paper. I like to think of drawings as conversations with the landscape: a silent exchange that results in an image. A shaky, speedy sketch is perhaps flawed and lacking, where a photo excels at capturing the light and detail in a single moment, yet the sketch also contains so much more. Having written this I realise that it is not really a fair comparison, but it is one that has been debated since the dawn of photography. I’ll conclude by saying that I see value in both, but mostly for different reasons, and would never replace my sketchbook with my camera.
These ‘walking drawings’ are often energetic and emotionally charged, and I’d like to share some of them with you here; along with some great quotes about drawing by famous Artists who have said it so much more eloquently than I can.
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“Drawing is like making an expressive gesture with the advantage of permanence.”
“In the final analysis, a drawing simply is no longer a drawing, no matter how self-sufficient its execution may be. It is a symbol, and the more profoundly the imaginary lines of projection meet higher dimensions, the better.”
“Until we can insert a USB into our ear and download our thoughts, drawing remains the best way of getting visual information on to the page. I draw as a collagist, juxtaposing images and styles of mark-making from many sources. The world I draw is the interior landscape of my personal obsessions and of cultures I have absorbed and adapted, from Latvian folk art to Japanese screens. I lasso thoughts with a pen. I draw a stave church or someone from Hello! Magazine not because I want to replicate how they look, but because of the meaning they bring to the work.”
‘Beautiful colours can be bought in the shops on the Riatlo, but good drawing can only be bought from the casket of the artist’s talent with patient study and nights with out sleep.’