Sunday, November 13, 2016

A Week for Sketching

I kept my art activities strictly to sketching and playing on the computer this week.  I don't know why, I just wasn't in the mood to pick up the paint brushes.  I think maybe I enjoy sketching quickly and loosely with charcoal rather than doing the tighter, more detailed drawings I've been doing lately.  I think charcoal is a good medium for studying compositions and subjects for painting.  It seems like many figurative artists use charcoal a lot for studies but landscape painters not so much.  Charcoal seems to have a kinship with oil painting that other sketching mediums don't have, I think that's because the marks made with charcoal are so malleable, they can be relatively easily be removed, adjusted and blended much like a brush stroke in oil painting.  Maybe these experiments in charcoal will lead to me giving oil painting a shot again.

art drawing charcoal tree evergreen roots nature

"Roots I"

8" X 10" Charcoal on paper
Original - $80

I really like tree roots, especially those that grow from the bases of pine trees when the soil has eroded around them and they no longer have much more than rocks to cling to.  I found this scene in Big Cottonwood Canyon in the Wasatch National Forest in northern Utah.  This area is a short drive from where I live.  I need to visit the local canyons more often, I used to go up there nearly weekly, however the crowds have become kind of overwhelming.

The alternative to going up in the canyons is staying near home and visiting the Jordan River Parkway.  The Parkway is an oasis of nature running through the middle of the heavily populated Salt Lake Valley and even though it's very close by, (I used to walk to it) I don't visit it often enough.  Seems I've been getting more and more lazy every year.  Today I took a step to rectify that and went for a walk on the Parkway and I took my camera and sketchbook of course.

art sketch plein air graphite nature jordan river parkway

art sketch graphite nature plein air jordan river parkway

These were very quick and basic sketches, just ten minutes or so each with .9 mechanical pencil.  The idea was just to practice observation and get a feel for the sense of place.  It's easier than ever to take great photographs but cameras aren't experiencing machines, they don't feel.  I feel art should be about the human response to our subjects, not our response to an image captured by a machine.  That said of course I often work from photos, far more often than not.  Part the reason for that is the fact that I still work full time. From November and into March the lack of evening light limits me to only getting out on the weekends and even then the weather often does not cooperate, not to mention I have other interests and often they take up time on the weekends.  I believe a good compromise is to just take out a sketchbook and a pencil and make some direct observations of nature.  Not only is this good drawing practice but it fills your memories with sights, sounds, and smells that just don't come through in a photograph, even if you take that photograph yourself.

All that said about photographs I still take lots of them, (thank heaven for digital cameras!), here are a couple from today's walk.

nature autumn jordan river parkway outdoors walking

late autumn nature jordan river parkway outdoors

As you can see while autumn is winding down it's still spectacular.  It was a perfect day for a walk, sunny and 60 degrees.


  1. Great work DK! Keep it up. We still have snow where I am.

    1. Thanks Ed. Only snow here is up in the mountains.