Internal Travelogue: Working from Imagination
As blog readers know, I love to sketch on location. But to be honest, you can’t be sketching from life all the time.
It’s demanding – constantly getting to new places. Deciding where to go, finding the time, schlepping your gear. All the little travel expenses.
But that’s my personal flaw (and my motivating passion) as an artist. I’m addicted to the new. Always wanting to find the next exciting place to discover through drawing. Or wanting to return to a well known place, and see it with a new technique.
But on the occasions where I’m trapped by circumstance, not able to go exploring – well, most of the time I’ll end up drawing people. People are an endless subject – we’re always doing something.
BUT – even then, there are only so many drawings of people playing on their phones or reading on the subway you can do in a week :)
At those times – when the weather is bad, or you’re on a long flight – or you’re in bed with the flu – any time when you have nothing to sketch from – maybe then you can go back to sketching from your imagination. Like maybe you used to do when you were a kid?
Only now, as a more mature artist, I like to think the sketches are informed by what we’ve drawn out in the world. All the observation in museums and greenhouses and on the street is stored up in the data banks. So when I go to draw from imagination, it’s a mix of visualizing an idea and drawing from memory.
I have one moleskine dedicated to these imagination drawings. (You know me, I have to keep my sketchbooks strictly compartmentalized. No mixing subjects!) This little book is very very slowly getting filled with these alien worlds and fantasy characters.
This is a long term application of what I call ‘knitting’. That is – slowly finishing a sketch. Scribbling down something while you’re ‘seeing’ it (I’ll brainstorm ideas in pencil). And then detailing up things like surface texture and foliage gradually in ink.
Working ten minutes waiting for lunch, five minutes more standing in line at the bank. Some of these drawings took months start to finish, but only a hour or two total.
So – sketching from imagination! It’s a different kind of travelogue!
Maybe some of you have a secret sketchbook like this?
If you post any of your drawings from the imagination somewhere – let me know in the comments. I’d like to see some of your interior journeys.