I’ve been sketching for about six years. During all of that time I’ve been a dedicated urban sketcher. Nearly everything I’ve drawn has been from life, mostly from my perch upon a tripod stool. Those of us who work this way are fond of extolling the virtues of drawing from life. If drawbacks are mentioned they generally relate to how weather and/or material limitations affect the actual drawing process.
One thing we always ignore when talking about location sketching is that there is no exercise of the imagination when you’re trying to depict some object or scene that lies before you. We may simplify, or even modify the scene but nevertheless, the scene provides the subject of our work.
Because of this, I’ve developed very little imagination when it comes to generating my own scenes. Yes, I can draw a dinosaur creature and maybe even a funny-faced character, but drawing a citiscape or landscape from my imagination – no way. And while I can draw cars, statues, and airplanes when I’m looking at them, I can’t draw one from my imagination to save my soul.
My buddy Yvan has told me that I should spend time drawing from my imagination, because if I did I would look at the world differently, generating a different kind of knowledge about my world. I know he’s right but I’ve found it difficult.
These days, however, I’m sort of stuck at home a lot and often my hands don’t function as well as I would like. Yvan showed me a lot of the small vignettes he draws (which are amazing) to develop his imagination and I decided to give hem a try. His approach is pretty simple:
- Paint a block of color(s). Not too big (the ones here are only 3″ to 4″ wide). Add some blotches of color (low contrast is best as it doesn’t force you in one direction).
- Let them dry (or not) and imagine what sort of scene can be made from the blotches of color contained within each block.
That’s all there is to it. While the ones presented here are the first two pages of these things I’ve created, they don’t have to be landscape/citiscapes. Yvan likes to invent candlesticks, fancy bowels, statues, or groups of people.
I’ve found this hard, mostly because I have no imagination, no “vocabulary” for making stuff up. But Yvan is correct, I’m looking at everything differently, asking things like “what are the typical shapes of citiscapes”; “what are the features of vases that one could use to create a new type?”, and a million other similar questions. There’s lot of fun to be had here and I’m convinced that it will help me with my “normal” drawing.