Focus Your Artistic Trajectory

29 Aug 2013

Woman in Repose by Sherrie McGraw, sanguine and white conte, 10 x 15 1/2.
Woman in Repose by Sherrie McGraw,
sanguine and white conte, 10 x 15 1/2.
Interacting with so many artists and writing about their work makes me think a lot about the kind of art I would personally like to make. With all the high-caliber paintings, collages, drawings I see around me, I wonder how I can find my artistic vision as a practitioner. It’s hard to pick a path when everything that I find along the way seems worth exploring. I fall in love with oil paintings of landscapes one minute, and then street scenes in watercolor the next. Sometimes it’s abstract collages or pen-and-ink portraits.

Right now, though, I really just want to concentrate on sketching well. Some of you may be thinking, You just want to sketch? But seriously, it takes skill to draw a street corner in a quick five-minute sketch, or get the proportions of a subway traveler’s limbs correct with just a few pencil strokes. I tried the latter just yesterday and only got one leg done!

Hands by Sarah Simblet, drawing.
Hands by Sarah Simblet, drawing.
I want drawing and sketching to feel fluid and natural, and I think from there I’ll really be able to start working the way I want to. I'm incredibly inspired by the works of two artists when it comes to pencil sketching. The first is Sherrie McGraw. Since coming to Artist Daily, one of the best conversations I’ve had was when I spoke with Sherrie about what drawing can mean to an artist—how rewarding it can be to work out one’s thoughts and ideas on paper, and how many artists’ drawings read like a diary of their preoccupations and challenges. Sherrie’s sensitivity to the drawing process is apparent in her work. She not only shows skill in foundational elements such as gesture, planes, symmetry, and foreshortening, she also knows how to make drawings that are filled with movement and vitality—an extension of life. Her point of view of drawing is one that I've really responded to and used as a reference point again and again as I try to figure out how to become a better draftsman.
The other artist is Sarah Simblet. Simblet’s approach has made me realize that drawing subjects are all around me. I’ve also learned that there are so many styles of drawing, and you can create a mood or feeling by using different techniques. Simblet zeros in on that as well, working in a diverse styles depending on the mood she wants to evoke in her sketches.

With both McGraw and Simblet, there’s an implicit understanding that learning to draw isn’t about what you produce but how you see. Taking strides to see differently is what all artists do. Resources like Strokes of Genius: The Best of Drawing can help put us on the right track, so that when we’re ready to make decisions about what we want to produce, we have a strong foundation that lets us know what we’re capable of—both technically with compositions and creatively.

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