Capturing Your Ideas In Your Drawings Part 1: Sketching vs. Composing

Do you have any "When I saw this painting I started to cry" stories? I'm quite the emotional person who'll readily cry when watching Netflix shows or movies. I'm mortified to share that the kid's show Anne with an "E" had me wrecked every single episode. Germans would say about me "She's built close to the water" (meaning she cries easily), which is why it's surprising that I only have one and half painting induced weeping experiences to share. I say "and a half" because the first one was more of a stunner rather than tearjerker. It happened at the tender age of 17 when I knew nothing about art except that I liked drawing portraits under my desk in class. I was on a school field trip to a local museum, walking into one of the salons, when Alexej von Jawlensky's paintbrush knocked any youthful haughtiness right out of my system with his striking Portrait of the Dancer Alexander Sakharoff.

It had me rooted to the spot for a good 10 minutes and haunted me ever since. And the thing is, I've never even been a big fan of German Expressionism to begin with. I thought you needed amazing drawing and painting skills to knock people's socks off, and yet, there I stood, dumfounded by a painting that threw all draftsmanship to the wind.

I kinda hated loving this piece, because it contradicted what I had decided makes "good art". Yet, this piece got to me. How does that work?! And why is it that my belabored portraits fail to elicit a mere hint of this kind of visual power? Well, many years of study, and many mediocre artworks later I now know that technical virtuosity is only one part of the equation. The other big Kahuna in the room is composition. In this week's video I explain the difference between sketching an composing and what elements you need to become familiar with if you want to get better at Capturing Your Ideas In Your Drawings. After you're done watching come back and tell me your stories of big emotions triggered by a painting. I'm curious to hear if I'm the only weeper here ;) Oh, and that other time a painting did a number on me was just recently at the Sorolla show in San Diego. I'll have to tell you another time about that one.


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