Freehand drawing the life of St. Andrew the Apostle
One of the most exciting discoveries in my life as a young artist came from seeing the power of spontaneous, almost non-selfconscious sketching and doodles. At first, however, I felt there was a huge abyss of quality between my doodles and the sorts of work I thought others would appreciate.
The pair of images above show how my larger, polished color-pencil drawing of "The Fisherman and his Wife," came from a quick black and white notation from a small travel sketchbook that I kept as I explored the northeastern coast of Venezuela (known as Barlovento) by bus in the late 1980s, looking for subjects to paint.
Some years before, a Catholic monk friend of mine from upstate New York had told me to value all my thumbnail sketches (or "croquis," as he called them in Spanish)--- and to keep doing them, alongside my more laborious pieces. In fact, the more I switched back and forth from spontaneous croquis to more controlled studies in pencil, charcoal, or watercolor, I began to feel the two approaches converge. The sort of scribble my friend talked about is what Leonardo DaVinci also called the "stain" (in Italian, "macchia, mack-ee-ah). In various passages of his famous journals, Leonardo insists not only that the painter should first work out his painted compositions as loose, gestural notations in crayon or ink, but that those same crayon or ink tangles contained the seed or inner movement of the more developed images. The more I trusted and enjoyed the croquis stage, the more spontaneous my controlled sketching or painting became! I saw, too, how a good painting could be developed from a lowly, almost throwaway scribble!
[PACA: I still have to write a TEXT here for the pencil drawings in this slide show below!]