Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Tuesday 26th October 2010 – ITAP – The Reflective Visual Journal

To first dispute this pseudonym. Apparently ‘sketchbook’ no longer does justice to the process each of us undertake, so, to spell it out, it must be called a reflective visual journal; as it catalogues, visually, ones ideas over a span of time. Personally, I think everybody’s sketchbook is a reflection of him or herself as a person and an artist. What they choose to draw, record, etc; it defines their personality as much as their personality defines their art style. 

Sketch to understand architectural forms.
Although I whole heartedly agree that one must fight the urge to draw for an audience, or for people, as a sketchbook is nothing more than a vessel in which you should thumbnail ideas as they manifest. I have cheap ring bound sketchbooks for skamps and annotations: the book I take to galleries and museums to notate in. However, paralleling this, I have an expensive bound Moleskine notebook, in which I do finer, more controlled and time consuming pieces. This is personal preference, as these can then be digitized, copied, referred back to. Which is my initial point: We, as creative minds, should not have a boundary within which we should practice when it comes to sketchbooks; they are personal, you shouldn’t loathe working in one, when you look through it you should smile and feel inspired, and not feel forced to approach it in one way or another; approach it in your way.

Left: The sketch in my Moleskine. Right: The finished digital piece.
Now, onto analyzing the lecture:


Something I agree almost completely with the lecturer about is how to approach some (read above) of your sketchbooks; almost with a vicarious abandon. They are a tabula rasa which is yours to experiment with; hone skills, annotate ideas, scribble thoughts down. A sketchbook, not unlike a book of anatomy or Wikipedia, is a tool, a means by which you can lubricate your working process, and use as a personal release. As touched upon earlier, it is by no means collated for anybody but yourself. If people want to look at your work, give them a portfolio, if people want to see your thought process, then it’s a different matter. 

When sketching to understand form, I always use ink: It allows for bold mark making and the knowledge of no ability to erase mistakes makes one intuitively be more conscious of what is being recorded.
And none of this is really possible without the key element of drawing. This is the key element that separates digital and traditional: There’s tactile feedback from a sketchbook; there’s an intuitive physical connection between the hand and the brain which can only really be instantiated this way. A skill which I must hone, as I fall foul of it, is drawing as you think, not drawing your past thoughts. This is what I envisage dissociates undergraduate sketchbooks and college student sketchbooks, what separates a master and a juvenile: The arguably simple task of dissociating the critical and analytical, letting the creative flow with abandon. Although we must remember simple and easy are not one and the same. 

DaVinci is an excellent example: his notations, numbering in the thousands, are almost entirely visual; showing a direct link between his thoughts and his mark making: freeing his ideas to allow them to develop on the page freely. This is at the core of what makes a brilliant sketchbook: the suspension of the critic; drawing to germinate your ideas, not for ‘art’. I assume what was being implied here was that if you let the ideas flourish; something far more primordial and closer to the esoteric form of ‘art’ may be borne, for, as Picasso said: “I begin with an idea, and then it becomes something else”. It’s an exploration, not an exercise in creating pictures. 

Using my sketchbook to explore potential compositions of form.
Utilizing ones creative Brain.

What we were lectured on was how we need to suspend the analysis and critical thought patterns which we readily place upon ourselves, and which seems to be intrinsically connected with textual communication. I’m guilty, as I love a little A6 notebook in which I make one word or one sentence notations to myself, mostly middle of the night moments of unhindered neuropathy that leads to either a nugget of an idea, or an inexplicable concept.

 Instead of this, the subconscious censorship we place over our thoughts should be discarded; through the aforementioned process of intuitive drawing. This, to use some neurological theories, allows the right hand side of the brain; which is the curious, spontaneous, experimental side of us, to take charge, and let our thoughts flow. However, this must be implemented in balance with the usage of the left hand hemisphere of the brain; responsible for speculation, analysis, critique and logical connections. To get the best from any exertion both must be used in turn: Allow free-form experimentation, but then in turn speculate on its usage. This working spiral will allow an initial concept to develop and develop and become something more than a shallow idea. 

Basically; ones previous working pattern should be turned on its head: Whereas in schools one is taught to write, think and analyze before putting pen to paper, now is the time to allow the pen to be put to paper to think almost, and then annotate, allowing good ideas to be siphoned from the detritus. Have a theme; make it almost a visual brainstorm. An example, last night I watched the music video to ‘Indestructible’ by Disturbed ( ), and using that as a starting point, and as a theme, began to develop thoughts centered around the concepts of armor, warriors, fighting, imposing silhouettes, etc. There should be, and was, a direction, and from it I harvested one or two nice compositions to come back to in the future.

Can see how firstly I simply threw ideas down in pen and ink, then analytically chose the best parts to create a nice composition.

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