02 06 2015 Chicago 1 (1)

On the only sunny day since I arrived in Chicago, I found half an hour while waiting for the bus back to O’Hare airport.  I wandered into Grant Park, which overlooks Lake Michigan but is separated from it by a busy road.  As a subject for a sketch, I was daunted by the spectacular fountain as the subject.  Instead, I sat with my back to it and drew in charcoal the city skyline over the trees.

02 06 2015 Chicago 1 (2)

This is the sketch as I completed it on scene.  Once home, I worked back into it with water and harder pressure on the stick, scraping back the damp surface to reveal the white beneath and accentuating the contrast as the wet charcoal clung to the ruckles.  I added some white acrylic paint with a stick and scraped it back along a straight edge.  At some point I had to stop.

14 responses to “Chicago

    • Hi Jo
      Interesting question. A lot of sketches are never reworked, like the birds drawn in the field. But sometimes when drawing landscapes, I can’t see the drawing properly: I am overwhelmed by the actual view and can’t abstract from it. Stepping away and looking at the drawing itself rather seeing merely a poor representation of reality allows me to develop it to something closer to my mental image. Of course this often fails too. Also I enjoy the feel of the medium, like the smooth blackness of charcoal, and the destruction of the image, like scouring the surface off damp paper. The reworking is fun I like the feeling of not being precious about my sketches, reworking them and perhaps losing them in the process.

      It’s ages since I worked something up to a finished piece but in doing so the original drawing is often completely lost.

      There seems more to your question than meets the eye. Care to expand on you’re thinking on this?

      Best wishes

      • hi Neil
        Thanks for your informative answer – now I understand your logic and your process of reworking much better. The question was just chat, one artist to another, really. As the spectator, I preferred your original drawing of Chicago as completed in situ to the reworked piece. And I like the lapwing and the gulls you posted today. But I guess I was also asking from point of view of creator. Usually if I rework something, the result is doom – in my opinion (as the creator). If I get to a certain point of dissatisfaction, I’m more likely to give up and start again with a blank piece of paper. It’s good to hear about your process – thanks again. I think we share some aspirations although our work and methods may be different. Best wishes,

      • Hi Jo
        Actually I agree that the reworked version is less appealing than the original. That’s why I photographed it before going on. None of it is worth much so there is also an existential (I think) point about being willing to destroy what I created in the pursuit of further experimentation.

    • Hi OA
      It’s an illusion this squeezing in sketches in a busy life. If I didn’t waste so much time, our wasn’t so shy about drawing purple or in public, I’d do so many more drawings. I always carry a sketch pad a and paper, they’re like a talisman because I actually don’t do that many sketches with them.

      • Glad I’m not the only one with sketch book guilt then, but hang on, you have all that great stuff from on your bike. I went to an open studio recently and got to look at sketchbooks where finished works started. I would say very inspiring, but I’ve not done anything about it yet. Still I’m carrying it around in my head to be used one day. Have been looking at art days and holidays, perhaps confidence in numbers is the way to go.

      • Hi
        I could do with a good art course too. Never found one that looked good, except of course the Scottish seabird course, but I realise that is for people way more advanced than me.
        If you find anything that looks good, please might you let me know too?
        B w

      • Yes I will. Where did you find your sea bird one and how long was it? It can be a bit pricey and finding time away from the family problematic.There must be a 2 nighter in suffolk somewhere. Does the experimental class you used to go to not run anymore? I can still see it in your work.

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