Thursday, January 19, 2012

Sketching your Designs - A Lesson from Matisse

I had the loveliest of outings on the weekend: a trip to GoMA (Gallery of Modern Art) in Brisbane to see the Matisse: Drawing Life exhibition.

It was quite insightful wandering through the rooms of the gallery studying his sketches: the thought and inspiration that went into each piece. There are very few finished art works in this exhibition but that's what it's all about: the preliminary sketches.

It is a great lesson to learn: even great artists don't just commit paint straight onto a canvas. And it is evident by the 300 odd sketches in the exhibition that Matisse sketched several preliminary drawings prior to putting anything on canvas. There is a great quote above one of the works which says:  

"For this Enlévement d'Europe, which is perhaps my best canvas and in any case the one I care for most, I made more than three thousand sketches, yes, three thousand..."

So what does this mean for the rest of us who enjoy creating in our chosen medium?
We may not be budding Matisses, but perhaps it suggests that in order to create great art or great designs, we too should sketch our ideas first, before we commit ink to paper, bead to string or thread to fabric.

I have to admit that this is a foreign concept for me and I rarely draw my designs before I begin work. Mostly, my sketches are in my head (along with all my lists of things I have to do - it is cluttered in there and I need a better filing system!). I'm always so anxious to get started on my project that I hate to spend time committing my design to paper first. But perhaps it's not necessary to spend a great deal of time on the sketch. The thing that struck me most about Matisse's sketches was that many of them were nothing more than a few major shapes or outlines.

I am taking this lesson on board this year and will be trying to put it into practice on occasion, with the emphasis on "ON OCCASION" - a quasi New Year's Resolution. After succeeding spectacularly with this approach last year where I committed to procrastinating LESS, I've discovered something new about myself. My undisciplined, disorderly, and dare I say it, creative brain responds to this approach really well. So let's give it a go again this year and see how I fare.

'Til next time.....

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