Sketching is information gathering and painting is translating the information. That’s where I’ve ended up after pondering one particular comment made in response to my Wimping Out of Plein Air Painting post: “even if you are doing a plein air painting in your watercolor sketchbook – it’s STILL a plein air painting.”
|Outdoor painting is more of a sketching exercise
for me–information gathering that I will translate
when I’m in my studio.
I kept thinking, “It’s true but…” and eventually I realized that the “but…” comes from the fact that I so often use words in my plein air painting sketchbook, that I don’t classify it as painting.
I’ll write in colors, labels to identify what cryptic scribbles are supposed to be, an arrow for the direction of light rather than sketching in shadows. All sorts of information and detail I’m too impatient to sit and sketch (or don’t have the time to do) but that I want to be reminded about when I’m standing at my easel.
If I didn’t believe so strongly that there’s no right or wrong way to sketch, and had never seen Monet’s studies that were mere lines, then the beautiful works of art you see in books on how to sketch might give me an inferiority complex.
My sketchbook is a memory aid, a reminder to load the visual images stored in my mind. A squiggle serves as a mnemonic for a type of grass or flower. A splash of watercolor for a raincloud. It’s information that will guide me as I pick and choose what goes into a painting.
Where do you draw (pun intended!) the dividing line between sketching and painting? Do you distinguish at all? Leave a comment and let me know.