Anyone Can Sketch, and Here's why!
|This is a fun little thing I sometimes do with|
the kids. They make up a story and I sketch it
while they do. (I have to make them slow down)
It would seem that a word as common as "sketch" would not need to be explained or expounded upon. But experience tells me that when people hear the word "sketch" they are thinking of the word "draw" and when they think of the word draw they are visualizing the words "sistine chapel". So now the illogical conclusion is at hand - "I can not draw or sketch anything resembling the Sistine Chapel, therefore, I cannot draw or sketch". The truth is, anyone can sketch - but here is a familiar refrain.
"I tried sketching once. I bought a pad of paper, sharpened my pencil, took aim at doing a portrait of my wife, put the pencil to the paper and created a beautiful rendering of a squirrel who has just been hit by a car….I told you I couldn't sketch."
Sketching is not a miracle. Just as we had to work at speaking intelligently we also have to work at sketching in a way that communicates. Often a beginners sketches are hesitant and clunky because his inner "sketcher" has been in a coma since he was six or seven. It does take some time and practice to get the brain to join with the eyes and hand to create sketches in a comfortable manner but sketching can certainly be learned by people with normal abilities. Here is something that may give you some hope.
Drawing is specific. Sketching is general.
Here is a beautiful specific drawing by artist Susan Lyon (you can see more of her work here)
Here is an equally beautiful general sketch by Adebanji Alade (you can see his work here)
If we are shooting for a general idea of what we are seeing there is no way to determine that the sketch is bad or wrong other than by what we ourselves are trying to accomplish in the sketch. So if my 4-year-old daughter records her general idea of a person, and shows it to me with delight in her eyes , she is officially a sketcher. This is despite the fact that her sketch has no torso and one of his eye's is so large it looks like it has a nasty infection. She has not "drawn" the person well but she has "sketched" the person in a beautiful manner that is sure to go down in the annuls of art history. MAKE A NOTE OF THIS -When she is sketching she is having a blast! Thankfully, it's a quiet blast…..which all parents love. Sketching is a blast, even for adults, when we get past out mental hangups. Drawing is specific, sketching is general. Here is a little diagram to help you see the difference.
Though there is no authority set up to define the difference between the two, most artists consider sketching to be a general idea of something you wish to portray (even if it is an abstract idea) and drawing is considered to be the specific idea of what you want to portray. Between the two concepts we have innumerable possible overlaps. For instance, artist Shane Wolf considers the image below to be a sketch because his specific ideas look more like the image at the bottom.
So depending on your own development and skill, what is considered a sketch by you may be considered a drawing by someone else. The important thing to remember is that a sketch is a quick general rendering from your perspective.
If they kept statistics on bravery I'm pretty sure my daughter and I would rank somewhere in the top 5% right behind guys who have climbed Mount Everest. Almost everyone above the age of 8 or 10 is afraid of sketching. There are more people afraid of sketching than flying or public speaking combined (not proven). My bravery has come from confidence built up over time. Her bravery has comes from the constant positive reinforcement from her parents. She instinctively knows more about the true nature of sketching than you or I do but at some point down the road her confidence will drop in a moments notice. It will be the result of some snotty nosed boy who proclaims - "that doesn't look like a horse!" In his ignorance he will place on her his own misconceptions and her sketch-journey will face possible derailment.
So the greatest barrier to getting back in touch with your inner sketcher is three-fold. One, we think sketching is a magical, superhuman feat that only a few "artist" are allowed to enjoy. Two, we have confused the specific nature of drawing with the general nature of sketching. Three, we have been told by others that we can't sketch well and we did ourselves the disservice of believing them. If we desire to become great sketchers we can. With a little direction, both we and our children can enjoy the benefits of sketching. We may even produce a few masterpieces along the way. So put aside the poor definitions and the bruised ego and begin to enjoy the peace and quiet of sketching.