November Sketch Time

Sketchtime for the MasterClass has rolled around again; this time we were given three photos as starters. Here is the one I chose to work with.

Class photo

I was immediately struck by old white  iron fence posts, secondarily by the way they disappeared under the walkway with its fence. So I started sketching. I’ll spare you the first 4-5 dismal failures. I finally had a progression of three that might work with tweaking, and I presented them in what I thought was least to best.

sketch 1

Sketch 1

sketch 2

Sketch 2

Sketch 3

Sketch 3

Here was my thinking. Sketch 1 had an intruding curving shape (meant to be abstracted from the various roads in the photo) plus a confusing mass of perspective/non perspective–I needed to go one way or the other and chose non-perspective. In sketch 2 I decided to add details from the buildings that had increasingly interested me as I looked at the photo over and over. It ended up a little too formally balanced for my taste. On to sketch 3 where I thought I had nailed it. I kept one of the buildings I had liked, realized it stood alone and added the three pillars on the left.

Interestingly, the comments were the reverse of my judgments. The curve shape made the first more interesting by contrasting to other straight lines; repeating triangles in sketch 2 was a good move, and in the third one, the right side object was unrelated.

This would not be the first time I’ve stumbled on contrast-for-interest Vs. intrusive-and-unrelated. And not only in art, but in writing. I’d come up with one theory: don’t introduce difference without repeating it somewhere else. Obviously, that isn’t a complete answer. I did notice some curving lines in Sketch 1 that were almost accidental; perhaps they keep the big curved shape from standing alone and intruding? And I am beginning to like Sketch 1 more.

So what I’m wondering is how others deal with creating contrast for interest without intruding something unrelated. My current hypothesis is that the difference between an artist and a wanna-be is the intuitive recognition of the difference.

Inviting comments and linking with Off the Wall Friday in hopes of insight.


Filed under design

7 responses to “November Sketch Time

  1. marginmirror

    You’ve stated something that has troubled me for some time now. I’m a ‘wanna be’ artist down to my toes and out to the tips of my fingers. Sometimes I do a fair job of it — at least according to people who live in my rural area and “know what they like”. But it’s that intuitive thing that artists who come to textiles from an art background, from the innate ability to draw and “see” — rather than folks like me who come to art quilting from the sewing/quilting background and who struggle to draw, to see, to interpret intuitively what they see and want to express — that’s what gets me. I’m on the wait list for EB’s class…in the hopes that still more study and focus and instruction will help but in the end…

    And yes, I like the 1st sketch best…I confess the spikes in the other two rather remind me of canine jaws…and teeth…;-) Sorry! I do empathize with your trying to sort the trees from the forest. I too get tangled in details when I look at a photo…I appreciate the time and effort this is taking you! All the best for the end of this year of study!

  2. I actually like #2 best. I think it is the most balanced. I love the spikes from the fence. Maybe you can use that as contrast to the lines and curves in the other forms. Great piece, great conversation.

  3. dezertsuz

    To your question, I have no answer. I have never thought about that. What I can say is the minute I saw your sketches, I disagreed with your order, too. 3 looks too stark to me, and very much like a battlement, which would be fine if that’s what you wanted. #2 annoyed me, but I can’t tell you why. It was like rubbing a cat’s fur the wrong way.

    #1 was very pleasing to me, relaxing and calming. Perhaps it has to do with the curve, and perhaps not. I tried putting my fingers across it, making that a straight edge instead of a curve, and I think that would have worked, too. I think it might have more to do with the light, medium, dark contrast placements, and the fact that the spikes don’t look so much like a monster’s teeth. =) It feels more balanced to me, and more attractive.

    Helpful, in my own unhelpful way, I hope. =)

  4. Well, my first choice is 1 but some more shading needed. I like the more abstract design you have going on in it! Just my 2 cents worth! Very nice.

  5. Like you I came to this media through the traditional quilting side and have been slowly training my eye towards the art side of things. My hunch is that I add contrast as it is needed usually to bring attention to the area where I want the focus. This means it makes sense and is not intrusive. A recent example of this can be seen during my last several weeks of blog posting. I hadn’t planned on adding white paint to poison dart frog, but it made all the difference. See

  6. Cher

    some good comments Claire. the third one to me has too strong an X flavor to my eye. I do like number 1 the most. I would flunk as an artist, but, I admire you taking this class and pushing your boundaries!

  7. Helen

    I like the harmony & rhythm of #1. Pretty simple since you’re doing all the work!

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