Monday, July 21, 2008

Sketching As a Language

This post is about my recent discoveries about sketching and what it means to me.

While I was on break and just sketching for me (that is, without predetermined plan or objectives), I realized something very important.

Background...I don't do scrapbooks. Yes, scrapbooking is incredibly popular and has grown into an art cottage industry, however, I have never really been into it. This is sad because when my husband proposed to me, he wrote a book. He created a scrapbook of all of our dates with receipts, ticket stubs, photos, etc. The climax was, "Will you marry me?" It was wonderful. He then said, "you do the scrapbooks now." And I did them for a few years. But, I haven't done one since we were living in England, so I'm too far behind to catch up now. Sad but true.

While on break, I found that I wanted to record small events, details to remember, etc.

Small Details
We visited family for some of the time. I drew the pattern on my mother-in-laws couch pillows, just because it reminds me of their living room and all the happy memories we've had in there over the years. I drew some decorative items in my parents' house, a chocolate pot among them, because I remember them from my youth. I could have taken pictures of these items, but somehow, drawing them meant more to me.

When we were on the beach, I drew a tugboat off in the distance, because I wanted to remember discussing with my mom about whether the boat and other machinery were out there for fish or kelp. I drew the cliffs behind us because I remember staring at them for hours when I was a girl and we spent the summers there. I drew my parents holding my son's hand while standing in the water, because watching that scene was a very special moment for me. Now, I feel like I can be transported back to that beach just looking at the drawings.

Conclusion - Sketching is a Language
What does this mean? Well, honestly, I think it means that sketching has become a language for me. My drawings say more to me than my photographs. I know that sounds a little hokey - in fact, when I've encountered books before that talked about drawing as a language I've immediately put them down with disgust. But now, I suppose that I sort of get it. Not in some bizarre rambling, flaky artist way, just in a "I can write down my memories without words" way.


Stacy said...

I know what you mean about "sketching as a language". I have a few old sketches from a time when I sketched very infrequently, but the memories of where I was and why I was there are still clear to this day.

In fact, I have had discussions with my husband about how I don't seem to remember details from the past. I find sketching to be a good solution to this. It makes me wish I had sketched my kids when they were younger. If only I could have gotten them to sit still. ;)

Valerie Jones said...

Way to go, Rose! I always have admired people who could keep a sketch journal of their life and travels. I think it's so neat that you find a sketch to be more meaningful than a photo you have taken!

Rose Welty said...

Stacy, I'm the same with the past usually - I forget so much.

Valerie, thanks. I'm not sure I'll always keep it up, but it is a fun project for the summer.

Jo Castillo said...

Wow, Rose. You are doing great with your people sketches.

My aunts sketched back in the World War I days and they are so wonderful to look at.

So, keep it up as you can, and don't feel guilty if you get a little side tracked. :)

Jeanette said...

Sketches are a much more personal way of capturing a moment. I have a stack of sketchbooks and love leafing through them.

Sketchbooks capture a piece of our history. In 100 years, people can look at our sketchbooks and see daily life, food, clothing, work, transportation - a full range of life in the 21st century and before.

They are a language, you're right. They are illustrated history in the making.

Katherine Tyrrell said...

One day your grandchildren might publish your sketchbooks!

I find I'm always transported back to the place and the day whenever I look at any of my sketches.

Photographs are a momentary thing - but with sketching you really have to look. I often make a note of the sounds I can hear as well.