Determination to know your subject... The importance of drawing

The beautiful scenery in the Lake District

It's alright to paint. But it's no good if you can't draw! Creating studies of your subject is the key to doing a good painting. Some of my best pictures have resulted from being able to do nothing but look at the water... lakes, rivers, the ocean, etc and sketch them time and time again. And they don't have to be masterpieces. No. In reality your sketches will vary in size, in composition, in colour. You can try anything and everything. This is your time to experiment, try different materials, work on new angles. It may work or it may not.

I've recently spent another day in the Lakes and being fascinated with the scenery there I couldn't wait to get my sketchbook out. Being surrounded by mountains, lakes, forests and old cobble stone houses means there's no shortage of inspiration, plus it also makes you realise that you don't have to go on residency for months on end to be able to spend vital time getting to know your subject.

I started with ink so I could 'scribble' out some fast sketches. I did some of the trees, water, bridges, different houses and mountain views. Then I turned to oil pastels and tried capturing the spirit of the rapid water in front of me. I was determined to try and capture the mad rush, the swirling water, tumbling white bubbles... the muddy browns, greys, yellows with an odd hint of vivid green added in. In my haste I sketched and sketched until my feet and hands went numb and all I could think about was how nice sitting next to the fire with a cup of tea would be.

I firmly believe that drawing and painting is meditative. It de-stresses you. Your mind can simply focus on the task at hand. And its fun. I felt satisfied that I had achieved my goal and gotten a step closer to understanding my subject... even if it meant I'd had to screw up the paper in my brand new leather notebook to add to the effect of the rapids!

Here are some of my drawings that day...








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