September 17, 2015

Constant Sketching vs. Painting Slump

A couple of people that I’ve talked to about my painting slump – people I am very close to and whose opinions I value – have pointed out to me that in the past year I have created a lot of art without painting (mostly sketching), and that I have facilitated the making of art by other people. That is all true. However, there is a mental difference between sketching and painting. I had not put a lot of thought into the differences until I tried to explain the difference to some friends.

Sketching is purposefully easy to do by being portable and accessible, and is not intended to be finished work. I sketch when bored, when interested, when anxious, when waiting, eating, talking, stopped at a train, etc. It is about whatever is in front of me at the moment, and it serves the purpose of keeping my hand and my eye active, of recording my day, and being a constant source of practicing art.

Painting seems to use a different part of the brain. It is much less about the immediate, and more about everything I have learned and experienced and seen over the course of my life, and everything I know about things and people that came before me. So that is a lot.

Painting is just more in-depth, particularly the way I do it by working in a series – I might have ten paintings started that all relate to each other, and even though I can only paint on one at a time, I’m working on all of them.

The act of painting satisfies a need in the same way that the act of sketching satisfies a need, but those two needs are a little different.

Facilitating the making of art by other people, whether by teaching art or by organizing the Symposium or by curating an art exhibit, is incredibly rewarding, but doesn’t have any impact on my own need to make art. It just makes me feel good. That’s not true, I do learn a lot, which is also important.

So, thanks to my kind loved ones for trying to make me feel better, and for helping me to see why I need to keep up my sketching and my painting.


Joan Tavolott said...

It is interesting to read your thoughts about the difference between sketching and painting. I like the way you explained painting a series too. Hope the painting slump comes to an end for you.

larry said...

"not intended to be finished work."

Then what are all those urban sketches that your organization produces, that are framed and sold, that become part of books, and are considered "finished works" by their creators? Sorry, but it's problematic that a person in your position has this view of "sketching."

Elizabeth Alley said...

Yes, Larry, that's true. Some sketchers do view their sketches as finished work. This is just my personal opinion of my own sketches. Mine are almost always in a sketchbook - like 99% of the time - so I don't really think of them as individual works. And they are often of whatever is on my desk, so it's hard to think of those as something anyone else would want! But I do think of my whole sketchbook as a complete work of art.

I think that sketchers all think of their work in different ways. Many sketchers create more finished works than I do.

Thanks for visiting!

Elizabeth Alley said...

Thanks, Joan! Working on each is a constant process, and thinking about it is, too!

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