Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Fast Sketching and Afterimages

From the Province Newspaper

I came across the work of David Rankin online and was taken with his approach to sketching and travelling. David is an accomplished artist and painter, capable of very precise and detailed landscapes as well as portraits. But it's his fast pencil and watercolour sketches that really caught my eye. In the introduction to his book, Fast Sketching Techniques, he described how his classical approach to drawing had not served him well as he travelled around India. At the time he wanted to capture the vibrant and active scenes around him in images. Photography was always an option but he wanted the immediacy of sketching from real life. So he developed a fast sketching technique to capture the essence of what he saw, rather than the precise details.

David Rankin works with 9B pencils and a smudging tool. He tries to see his scene in terms of simple shapes and 3 or 4 basic values. The really exciting "discovery" for me is his afterimage practice. Afterimage exercises have the artist trying to look quickly at a scene (or photograph) and actually remember the shapes and their relationship to the other shapes. It's like the scene burns a mental print in your mind's eye which you can look at and get down on paper. I know that artists are constantly looking at and referring to their subject as they sketch. It never really occurred to me that I could actually remember the image for more than a fleeting second. Practicing and developing the ability to remember what something looks like must be an essential part of being able to capture quickly changing scenes and sketch on the move.

So as I sat at the White Spot and waited to pick up my teen musicians from a gig, I practiced from photographs in an old newspaper lying on the table where I sat. I also practiced from real life in my garden, moving my stool around to different vantage points.

From the Newspaper and David Rankin's Fast Sketching Techniques

Our Fish Pond
Our Front Door

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