Degas once said, “No art is less spontaneous than mine.”

                I recently went to the Degas exhibit at the Denver Art Museum and was struck by the wonderful combination of showing his sketches and sketchbooks with his oil paintings and pastel works.   It really gives the viewer the experience of discovering what goes into the making of a masterpiece.  Many of his large works have a loose use of brushstrokes and hints of his black “sketched” lines that he used to lay out his compositions with.  The effect it creates is one of art done with some spontaneity and life to it. …

Artist Paul Klee remarked “A drawing is simply a line going for a walk.”

One of my favorite quotes comes from Paul Klee who said “A drawing is simply a line going for a walk”.  This summer as you travel take a sketchbook with you and a simple #2 pencil or your ballpoint pen!   Sketching does not need to be complicated nor do you have to be an “artist” to sketch.  I like to do a combination as I travel.  I pick up a postcard here and there and use a glue stick to attach it in my sketchbook.   I doodle and sketch around the postcard, add words in my hotel room at the…

Van Gogh stated,”I sometimes think there is nothing so delightful as drawing.”

Van Gogh’s wonderfully simple pen and ink drawing shows how drawing does not need to be complicated.  Just give it a try!  Here note how Van Gogh used simple lines to create an great drawing of a meadow or field.  Thin and thin lines going different directions make the field look like a meadow of plants.  See how he uses a simple value (dark/light) change to delineate between the foreground and the background.  The narrowing of the field as it goes back creates depth in the drawing another simple technique.  Try drawing with a simple pen, it can do more…

Artist Andrew Wyeth’s thoughts on sketches that don’t make the cut

American artist/icon Andrew Wyeth once said, “I’ll take weeks out doing drawings, watercolor studies, I may never use.  I’ll throw them in a backroom, never look at them again or drop them on the floor and walk over them.  But I feel that the communication that has seeped into the subconscious will eventually come out in the final picture.” When you look at Andrew Wyeth’s art you see many sparse, simple looking compositions.   Most people including yours truly, are drawn to his wonderful art.  I recently was teaching an art class on composition and I used Wyeth’s paintings as a…

Artist Renoir’s ideas about subject matter for artists.

  Renoir once stated, “There isn’t a person, a landscape, or a subject that doesn’t possess at least some interest-although sometimes more or less hidden.  When a painter discovers this hidden treasure, other people immediately exclaim at its beauty.”  When you  just do not have the “inspiration” to draw or paint something don’t  give up!   There is an unlimited number of options out there.  Try something opposite from your usual, instead of looking at the large landscape look at the plants creating the landscape.  Or get even smaller and get out a hand held magnifying class to see your house…

Leonardo Da Vinci’s thoughts on sketching

  Da Vinci said, ” Sketch quickly with light strokes on your pad (which you should always have with you), and when it is full, start another, never rubbing out but keeping all carefully, because the forms…….are so infinitely various that they cannot possibly be retained in memory.  Therefore preserve your sketches, for they are your assistants and your masters.” The first thing to gleam from this quote is how important it it to keep a sketchbook.  It is our practice place, a place to experiment with techniques & composition,and also to preserve visual lines and ideas.  As Da Vinci…

Spanish painter Francisco De Goya on “masses of light and dark”

De Goya once stated, “who always talks about line, never about masses.  But where does one see lines in nature?  I see only masses in light and masses in shadow, planes come forward and planes into recession.” Now is the time as it warms up to get out and sketch.  The vastness of the outdoor landscapes can be a stumbling block for many.  But there is hope follow De Goya’s advice an look at the large masses of dark and light shapes.  Squint at the photograph of the Third Flatiron below, notice there are distinct shape areas.  Start with sketching…