The anatomy of a sketch

I've enjoyed some time away in Devon, near Dartmoor and then Amsterdam. Though my sketching time was limited I always try to keep a pen and sketchbook close to hand. Here are two little on-the-spot observational drawings. The first made in Devon was of a commanding view down a lane towards Dartmoor. I liked the natural rake of the road as the eye moves down and then up towards Dartmoor on the horizon.

The second sketch is of Amsterdam. Not a 'typical' view, though it includes the 'mandatory' canal. I just happened to pitch up at this spot whilst waiting for my wife. As I looked around I liked the way the hard lines of the railway bridge lent structure and horizontal strength to the drawing. If I had more time I would have exploited that fully. The trees soften the lines. As I worked I began to think that a sketch is often about creating a skeletal frame over which ideas, emotions and colours can be laid and manipulated at a later stage. Whilst satisfying and complete in themselves they are repositories of thought, a working out of responses. The skill of including what is essential and editing out what is not – or removing visual chatter – is one approach to drawing. Conversely, including visual chatter is an alternative response where the overload of sensation begins to form its own beauty.