Take Advantage of the Sights Around You

Pencil Sketch & Come Back Later

In Splendido by Bernie Fuchs, the color scheme is warm, inviting, and has the appeal of a festive gathering that you want to be part of.
In Splendido by Bernie Fuchs, the color scheme is
warm, inviting, and has the appeal of a festive
gathering that you want to be part of.

I typically don’t carry around a sketchbook, but during this time of year I could make an exception. There is so much going on, and it seems like everywhere I look there’s a composition  waiting to be found, a color scheme that excites because of its drama, or just an event I want to remember with a quick pencil sketch in order to come back to later. Just a few weeks ago I went for a walk, and the sight of a little girl tugging demandingly on her father’s pant leg, pointing to a 14-foot Christmas tree with an “I want!” look on her face was just begging to be captured. Later, two dapper gentlemen sitting side by side on the subway in matching business suits, horn-rim glasses, and camel-colored trench coats looked as though they could have stepped right out of a painting.

Recognizing a compelling composition is the first step we all take when fleshing out an idea for a painting or drawing from a quick pencil sketch done on the fly, and going through the rigors of how to interpret the scene takes time. But that is what it’s all about: finding the kernel of an idea and then thinking about how to stretch and expand the sketch so it will evince the kind of dynamism and power you are after.

San Miguel Courthouse by Bernie Fuchs is an example of an everyday scene with the makings of a great painting composition.
San Miguel Courthouse by Bernie Fuchs is
an example of an everyday scene with the makings of a great painting composition.

The power to project a concept or idea in your work comes down to not letting skill become a barrier between what you want to say and how you are able to say it. I think that is why so many artists focus on foundational skills such as drawing mastery and spend a lot of time making pencil sketches, musing and ruminating on ideas before putting them on canvas. The pendulum swings both ways—innovative ideas inform skill; skill allows you to execute your vision. The same goes for truly understanding the power of sketching. Without working out what you are trying to say beforehand in preparatory sketches, you can create a painting that is full of visual conflict or loses itself somehow, failing to excite you as much as the initial idea did.

To that end you need to be able to utilize resources that are worthwhile, so that the time you spend sharpening your skills is time well spent in areas of composition and color. I’ve discovered that Desmond O’Hagan’s Oil Painting with Confidence Collection marries these crucial interests together. The collection is filled with compelling resources for an artist, and each has instruction of the highest quality, and the author-artist is one of the best in his fieldexpanding greatly on color mixing and how to evaluate a composition in a compelling way, among others.

The Oil Painting with Confidence Collection helps you take your art to the next level, so that wherever you look to find inspiration, you’ll have the skill to match that creative impulse.

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Courtney Jordan

About Courtney Jordan

  Courtney is the editor of Artist Daily. For her, art is one of life’s essentials and a career mainstay. She’s pursued academic studies of the Old Masters of Spain and Italy as well as museum curatorial experience, writing and reporting on arts and culture as a magazine staffer, and acquiring and editing architecture and cultural history books. She hopes to recommit herself to more studio time, too, working in mixed media.   

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