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Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sketching as a decompressing tool

I am always amazed at the sketchbooks of American artists and students. They are told in school how these little books are what keeps them current. This is the place where you experiment and look for things, this is where future approaches and techniques are found first. And they are not lying, actually they are pretty damn right. But don't feel bad if does not work for you, you are not alone there. It is your book and only you decide what you do with it.

My sketchbooks are an exploration tool but not really of my work but the way I look at the world.
Outside of the studio is where I find inspiration while still take a break from work.
I use a pentel brush and a water brush, tools I don't use in my illustration work for getting out of the commodity of your usual pick which in my case is a pencil. Yet still carrying those two things plus a small notebook is never a problem since I don't like carrying around many tools and boxes (well I actually do but my back does not) so you can always be ready.

I draw from life, from pictures and from my head so hopefully one day the result of those different inputs does not differe all that much.
There is no pressure in these drawings just fun.
Thanks for looking


Chris Whetzel said...

Hey Raul, I like the way you think. In reconsidering my approach to sketching, I see your point more than I do the "experimentation/keeping fresh" viewpoint a lot of people are advocating.

When I honestly consider how I think about my sketchbook, I see it as a bit of an escape. When I'm drawing in it, I'm not thinking. Not about drawing, not about work or my life. I'm just responding to what I'm looking at.

This is a more recent revelation as I looked through some old sketchbooks last week. You can really see where I was enjoying myself and where I was too busy trying to figure out a new medium or experiment with combinations. Again, this was when i was trying to fit that American definition of what I should be doing in my sketchbooks. But to be quite honest, my life is stressful enough without berating myself for not liking the results in my sketchbook because they aren't fitting someone else's idea of what the pages should be.

So now I don't show my sketchbook to anyone with the exception of the blog excerpt every quarter or so, and those selected images are usually chosen as they are special moments to me because of a thought or feeling that came across either in the image or in my mind when i look at the image.

With all that rubbish said, I guess my sketchbook is decompression, eye/hand practice, a journal, and a place where I can be pretty honest with myself.

But hey, in the end, it's just a book with some paper in it. Make it what you want :)

The brush pen is a great tool as it really cuts down on your needing to carry tools, and it really makes for great marks and reductive thinking. These images are great examples of a solid black/white thought process. Do you find that you have progressed due t limiting yourself to these tools?

I find that I will get to a point that I feel I'm rally getting the hang of a tool, and then I switch to something else because I was once advised to do so so as to not get "glib" in my drawings. But now, I am fine with working in one type of pen or something for weeks in a row as I can literally see myself learning how to use the tool better.

I just find it really interesting in how much of American art culture is in working uncomfortably via medium as opposed to refining a technique so that it would not interfere with your aspirations.


Raul Allen said...

Tools are just tools, its all what you want to do and finding things in that process. I don't think there is a need to struggle with the tools but to let randomness and a certain lack of control to make you find things you would not find otherwise. Just the same way you keep your eyes open to see new things and also the familiar under a different light.

Working with black and white you have to make more decisions as opposed to working with pencil. It is not about not being able to erase since you can white out stuff too in ink, its about limiting yourself to two tones. It is a fun and enriching process and I feel it has given me more security in my work.
But in the end I just do it for the fun!
And just like you do, and no matter how much I love American style sketchbooks I just need to loosen up and let go.
A direct observation of what you are seeing helps you analyze what is in fron of you and interpret it. There is certain degree of abstraction in this process, you see shapes, contours and lines that in the end make up faces and bodies and buildings.
You have to do what feels right for you. Nobody says learning has to be painful..

Tin Salamunic said...

I really enjoy your sketches Raul. Beautiful work. I also agree with your viewpoint on sketching from life. Welcome to the site. Very glad to have you on board! :)

Raul Allen said...

Thanks Tin, glad to be here.

Scott Brundage said...

Raul! Remember when we shared a suite? Did I leave the door open when I showered? That was an invitation.

Fond memories aside, I really dig these sketches. They seem to be pretty similar to what I try to do in my sketchbooks with inky brushpens. I enjoy the commitment of the ink (as you said it, "you have make more decisions than with pencil"). While I don't really put all too much stock in how my sketchbook turns out, a nice ink page with few fudged marks feels really nice, considering how precarious the actual endeavor is.

Glad you joined us!

Raul Allen said...

Hey Scott, how could I forget? Those were the good times...

Lets have some fun here shall we?