“Do you do it from memory or just make that up out of your head?” I was asked this recently by a lady looking with admiring eyes at my latest horse painting “Waters edge”. I wasn’t quite able to explain in one sentence, but I’m going to try here.
No I didn’t do it from memory, or just make it up. It may come as a big surprise to anyone who is not involved in art, but making stuff up out of your head is surprisingly difficult. Even abstract artists have a rigorous methodology that they go through, albeit different to mine. So if you’ve ever assumed that artists work entirely from memory, or make it up out of their heads I’ve got a little experiment for you to try at home. Without scrolling down and seeing what happens next in this article I want you to draw a £10 note from memory.
No peaking in your wallet first
. Just grab a piece of paper and any old biro and just draw anything you can remember from one side of a £10 note.
Give yourself about five minutes.
How did you do? How does your £10 note from memory look? Don't worry, mine is rubbish!
I have no problem in admitting my horses from memory would not be very good at all! There is another part of the process as well which I find really enjoyable which is all the sketchbook work. Whenever I do demonstrations people are often more fascinated to flick through my sketchbook than they are with the demonstration itself. And that’s not surprisingly as lots of the decisions have been made in the sketchbook. Sometimes there are decisions about the angle, the composition, my palette, the level of detail and the source of light.
In fact, many artists I know refer to a formula for work, which is for every 20 minutes you’ve spent on the canvas there have been three hours worth of experiments in the sketchbook.
So for me by far the best combination is some reference photographs, loads and loads and loads of sketches all surrounding me and my easel and then I can try and create my masterpiece.
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