Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Confession time

NOTE: This is a recap of my post yesterday on The Sketchbook Challenge

Okay, it’s confession time. Doodling does not come naturally to me. I have never done it. When I sit down at my sketchpad, I like to work in a pretty realistic way. Like the fish (a Blackbelly Rockfish, to be exact) above.

Or this Indian Scad:

Yes, I do have a bit of a fish obsession going right now. I’ll admit that, too. When this month’s theme was announced, I inwardly groaned. As a teenager in a boring class at school, I didn’t doodle. I focused on taking extremely detailed notes in beautiful printing, with perfect margins and bullet points. In different ink colors. Yes, I know … I am a freak.

I looked at the girls in my class who were drawing curlicues and hearts and (here’s another confession coming) I thought they were pretty silly.

And then I had an epiphany. I really am wound tight. Maybe, I thought, just maybe, I need to loosen up a bit. Maybe working with such tight control all the time is not healthy. Maybe trying something new would be good. Maybe I would even like it. Maybe.

While I was pondering all this, I drew another fish. A Narrow-Barred Spanish Mackerel, to be exact. I sketched first in pencil, erasing lines, refining lines, until I got things right. Then I inked my drawing. 

And while I was working with such precision, I wondered if it would be a valuable exercise to work outside my normal style. Artists spend lots of time developing their “voice” or signature style or look. It is what allows us to identify a Picasso as a Picasso or a Monet as a Monet, even if we have never seen that particular piece of art before. We try to build “a body of work” that is consistent, that demonstrates our signature style. If you work hard to do this, and if you create a ton of art, it usually happens. Most artists work consistently during their lifetimes in this one style, rarely wandering off their path.

But is this a good thing? And since it is called The Sketchbook Challenge, didn’t I owe it to the group to accept the challenge, to take the dare? Maybe it would take me in a whole new wonderful direction! Yes, I decided. Yes!  So I sat down to doodle (you guessed it) a fish. Here he is:

And I kind of like him.