A house built on firm foundations, will last longer and be safer than one with no foundations. Likewise, “drawing is the basis of art. A bad painter cannot draw. But one who draws well can always paint”. A quote from A Gorky.
When I got back into the art world from a career in Finance in the City, I was fifty years of age! and I just wanted to take up painting after a gap of about thirty years, so I was in a hurry! After all, “how hard can it be”? to quote a favourite Jeremy Clarkson phrase.
I really didn’t want to bother with all that drawing stuff, I just wanted to get on and paint. So that’s what I did, for a few months. I thought – I’m getting on a bit and need to learn fast, if I’m to reach a decent standard. Years before, I had been very involved in musical performance and knew that instrumentalists take about five years, of regular lessons and daily practise to reach a standard acceptable to play with an orchestra. So five years was my target. Oh Boy! How misguided was that. After those first few months, I realised that my lack of drawing skills was letting me down, so I bought some sketch books and started filling them up. I started to enjoy sketching, it wasn’t as boring as I had imagined and soon I was sketching regularly, more than I was painting. In fact, when I look back through the ‘learning pile’, do you have one of those? I realise that I’ve made approx. three sketches for every painting. So my first five year target, came and went and I was still alive and enjoying sketching and painting regularly. It took me a further five years and growing enthusiasm to reach a decent standard of work, which started to sell at exhibitions. Along the way, I’ve met so many people who gave up or changed to a simpler medium, and that only made me more determined to carry on and to attempt difficult subjects. Nowadays my attitude is: If it’s easy – I’ll let someone else do it! If it’s difficult, It’s worth me persevering at it.
After many years that stubborn determination is starting to pay rewards and I am enjoying making art, even more than I ever imagined.
Salvador Dali said about drawing. “Drawing is the honesty of the art. There is no possibility of cheating. It is either good or bad”
Shown here, is a pencil sketch of Lucien Freud, the artist, from a photograph of his own self portrait in oils. I found it helpful to work from photos of old master drawings, found in old auction house catalogues and the antiques trade newspaper. Nowadays, the internet has almost endless quantities of copyright free images to work from. My other sketch here, was drawn in white ink on dark green paper, all freehand, from photos I had taken at Forest Hill in South London. Unlike my sketch book sketches, this is a finished work, and is now in my shop / gallery. Click on the photo if you would like to see more details.
If you’ve enjoyed this article, please add your comments below or sign up for my newsletter in your inbox, Till next time! Keep sketching.