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To Sketch Or To Draw?
By Tracey Morgan
Fairly often, a news story will appear about the auctioning of sketches by some notable artist, a Lowry or a Da Vinci, for example. On the one hand, they?re frivolous small items, perhaps a donation to someone in a restaurant by way of a thank-you, or maybe a concept for a painting that ultimately went on to become very significant. They might even prove to the general public that an artist who was more skilled in abstract art could actually draw ?realistic? picture, and that something they could scribble on a scrap of paper is indeed better than most budding artists could manage.
So that?s why it doesn?t do to put down the sketch in the world of art. A sketch might be the true idea behind an artwork or a creative representation of the moment if realisation, recorded on paper for posterity. As such it?s an important view into the artist?s mind and could indeed tell us as more information about the finished article as does the completed creation itself, rather like the modern scanning techniques that reveal previously hidden layers in great masterpieces.
Sketching is not always a means to an end. It can be a fulfilling and challenging activity in itself, with numerous opportunities for inspiration, drafting and just plain technique practice to develop. A great sketch that was completed in just a short space of time can hang on the wall alongside any more complicated and involved work. After all, a simple drawing can often be the most raw arrangement ? and might happen almost by luck (or at the subconscious level, as some would say).
Art supplies retailers will have everything you need to get your drawing and sketching project underway. But to start, you?ll need just a pencil and some paper. Here?s a rough guide to the options.
A sketching project can become a frenzied festival of ideas, so a good sized paperpad is a sound idea to start with. A4 is the smallest, but an A3 plain pad will really let you express yourself more fully and give you space to grow your ideas. The quality of the paper itself is crucial too. Too cheap and you?ll see your other sketches through it and it will of course be more at risk of creasing, stretching and ripping. At the higher end of the quality continuum the main factor is the cost. Must you have top grade paper for your sketches? Like most other things, there?s a compromise position and only you will know which matches your work best. If your sketches are to be the completed article, go for quality paper from the start. If they are just draft ideas, keep it cheap and cheerful.
Finally consider your pencils. Although you can sketch in charcoal, different types of paint, ink or chalk, pencils have the benefit of being correctable. This can assist the creative process as you develop your sketch. Pencils also provide a vast range of sharpness options, from a very-hard and light pencil to the softer, black lead ones. The options available in the UK range from 9H (max hardness) through 9B (ultra black and very soft) with HB or F (fine point) in the centre ground. Hard pencils are ideal for detailed work or very thin lines; soft pencils give a lot more scope for creativity of technique such as adding shadows to an image, and can be wiped or smudged with the fingers to create interesting effects.
So next time you set out to do a little drawing and sketching, the simple pencil and a plain sheet of paper are really all the art supplies you need. It?s low cost and definitely a fun method to record your creative impulses.
About the Author: Tracey Morgan created this article for Voodoo E-Commerce on behalf of Pullingers, providers of sketching and drawing supplies.
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