He Makes Scribbling Seem Worthwhile

20 May 2012

Some artists, you love what they draw. But with every landscape drawing of Georges Seurat, it is the way that he draws that makes all the difference. Take any of his sketches and chances are it is fairly simple in composition. There are very few elements in the drawings and usually they all add up to just three or four large shapes.

Drawbridge by Georges Seurat, 1882-83, conté crayon and white chalk drawing on paper, 9-5/8 x 12-1/4.
Drawbridge by Georges Seurat, 1882-83, conté crayon and white
chalk drawing on paper, 9-5/8 x 12-1/4.
But despite the lack of amazing vistas, drawing landscapes the way Seurat does gives the natural world a powerful austerity that I find quite convincing. But, again, it isn't the places or objects that he picks--back roads, a small drawbridge, a humble lighthouse--that give his work character. It is his imagination. Look at the way he tones his paper so that the entire drawing is darker, dimmer, and more atmospheric. See how he reinforces interesting angles with light or dark passages. And look how there doesn't seem to be anything self-conscious about the way he draws.

So if you are thinking about how to draw landscapes with real oomph, don't think that you have to drag yourself from hill to hill looking for just the right vantage point. The power of the drawing is inside you! I know that sounds a bit fluffy, but I believe it wholeheartedly. The way you decide how to draw a landscape is much more important than what you draw. So spend time thinking and experimenting with the effects of your mark making or use of light and shadow, and I think you'll be rewarded with a good deal more confidence in what you are doing than when you started, and a sense of your artistic self that none of us ever nourish enough.

Approach to the Bridge at Courbevoie by Georges Seurat, 1886, conté crayon drawing, 9 1/8 x 11 3/4. The Lighthouse at Honfleur by Georges Seurat, 1886, conté crayon drawing, 9 1/2 x 12 1/8.
Approach to the Bridge at Courbevoie
by Georges Seurat, 1886, conté crayon drawing,
9 1/8 x 11 3/4.
The Lighthouse at Honfleur
by Georges Seurat, 1886, conté crayon drawing,
9 1/2 x 12 1/8.

In the same way, I'm always drawn to instructional guides that show me how much of a difference one skill can make when I use it the way I want to. Mastering Sketching fits that bill. From sketches of figures to drawing trees in the park for a quick five minute study, there's a sense that the potential for sketching is all around you--if you are open to putting your own mark on it. And I hope you are! Enjoy!

 


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Mastering Sketching offers 40 carefully planned lessons devised to help artists put new theory and skills to good practice. Judy Martin guides you along the path of becoming comfortable sketching at your own pace, with exercises to help you from the first time you pick up a piece paper to when you finish perfecting your skills. This resource accommodates the needs of everyone from the complete beginner just getting started to the avid sketch artist looking to refine his/her craft.

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Comments

peterworsley wrote
on 23 May 2012 12:27 PM

It comes down as always - what matters most is the composition.

peterworsley wrote
on 23 May 2012 12:28 PM

It comes down as always - what matters most is the composition.