Speed Drawing: Moving Faster than Thought

2015-11-12 man 2015-12-24 WmA 2015-12-27 Luke

I think too much.

This isn’t news. Anyone who knows me, knows it’s true. You’d think when it comes to exercising any skill, including drawing, that a thoughtful approach is the best. Sometimes it is. Sometimes, the best way is to study the proportions, carefully mark the features, follow the contours with patient care. It’s what I try for when I really want my drawing to come out right.

The problem for me is that I get so wrapped up in the problem-solving aspect of the work that the soul goes out of it. Or never got into it to begin with. Maybe the issue is with what I mean by right.The finished product may be well-made, but it feels dead. I look at it and have no idea what I thought or felt about the subject based on what’s on the page, which makes me wonder why I bothered. Well, I bothered because I actually did see something I wanted to capture: something I loved, something I wanted to understand, something that called to me. Why isn’t it in the drawing then?

It’s my theory that my brain gets in the way; I’m thinking more than drawing. So my solution has been to shake my practice up a little with speed drawing: getting the line down as fast as I can, scribbling the forms and emotions, sweeping through the movement, exaggerating. I’ve done it before–here and here–but I first began doing it consciously when I was drawing the flamenco dancers in motion and was confronted by a pose that excited me, but I didn’t know how to render. If I did nothing, it was gone. So I made a few big marks, fast, fast, trying to grab whatever I could, hoping that I had captured something of what I’d seen, maybe found a clue to the truth of the pose. And more times than not, I really liked the result.

The same has proved true when sketching from a photo. My line quality is more varied and interesting, there’s more emotion and energy, and the result is more vivid than if I’d taken more care. If I’d thought about it…instead, I drew. Let my hand and my eye do what I’ve spent all these years training them to do. The work I show here won’t always be in this manner–there’s still so much training I want to do–but eventually I’d like to venture beyond the safety of pencil to try this style in markers and maybe, one day, in pen and ink.

I’d like to hear your thoughts on speed drawing or any other methods to draw with less brain in the equation.

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