I love stumbling upon facts about artists that make me rediscover them and consider their process in a whole new light. That's the kind of moment I had when I discovered that Roy Lichtenstein, the king of Benday dots and comic-book narratives, loved sketching. He started almost every day drawing sketches, and almost all of his paintings started out as quick pencil sketches.
|Preliminary sketches for the painting As I Opened Fire by Roy Lichtenstein, 1964.|
Lichtenstein's process was, in fact, heavy on drawing. He would do preliminary sketch drawings, proceed to more fully rendered drawings, and then do collages before arriving at the paintings and prints he's so well known for. What's unusual about his sketching techniques is that he was not one to refine or perfect just one version of a drawing. Instead, with every new colored pencil sketch, he would drastically change his colors and compositions, exploring several possible versions for each artwork.
|Collage for Still Life With Reclining Nude
by Roy Lichtenstein, 1997.
He would also often erase and rework sketches so that the several sketch drawings made in preparation for one painting would often look drastically different, giving you a sense of the artist's mindset as he created, discarded, and revised ideas until he was satisfied.
We are lucky to know about Lichtenstein's predilection for drawing sketches, because it isn't something that he publicized. He thought that this part of his process was strictly for the studio and not one he was entirely comfortable revealing. "My style is not one of give-and-take," he once said. "I don't want traces of all that activity going on."
But those traces give me a greater sense of the artist, and that is precious information indeed. When I read artist profiles or am taught techniques from an artist, it gives me a truer sense of where they are coming from in their work, which helps me figure out how I want my artistic process to evolve. Right now, there are several top resources available through the Resolve to Save Sale at the North Light Shop that can help you evolve your artistic process as well, so see what appeals to you and take those oh-so-pivotal steps forward.