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Friday, December 12, 2014

Bad Sketches from NYC

Recently I made a visit to New York City, determined to do more sketching than snapping photos on my phone.  I don't usually sketch that often, partly out of fear of doing an embarrassingly bad sketch.

However, a few weeks before I left, I was really inspired by an episode of the Suggested Donation podcast featuring artist Steven Assael.  He encouraged artists to always carry a sketchbook, because even a bad drawing is a valuable experience that gets into your brain.

What he said reminded me of when I was with The Ryder Studio in Holland and Tony encouraged us to sketch at the museums, to go through the process of downloading all that aesthetic information.

First, I searched for a toned paper sketchbook, and found one I liked (Strathmore Art Journal, 400 Series Toned Gray 80 lb. sketch paper, 112 pages, 5.5" x 8"), but it didn't have an elastic closure like I'm used to.  So I added one of my own by stapling an adjustable elastic headband to the back cover.  I added a ribbon bookmark too, threading the other end through the spine and tying it to the elastic.  I already loved the soft feel of the cover and the warm gray paper with subtle fibers creating visual texture, and my own customization made me even more eager to use it on my trip!

The first night, I looked out the window of where I was staying, and saw the beautiful, sparkling skyline.  I took a bunch of grainy camera phone photos, and then as I was getting ready for bed, I realized, "Oh no!!  I should have sketched it instead!"  So the next morning I got up at dawn and drew the skyline-- the first image in this post.

At the Metropolitan Museum of Art, there was an amazing costume exhibit, Death Becomes Her: A Century of Mourning Attire.  I went through the exhibit, then picked a dress to sketch from.

One of my reasons for making the trip was that I'm looking at graduate schools and MFA programs, and one of the schools I wanted to visit was the New York Academy of Art.  It was great to see the school and meet up with a good friend there, Abigail Schmidt.  While I was there, I was actually able to sit in on a drawing class with the very same Steven Assael who had inspired my determination to sketch more!  He encouraged the class to work from memory and imagination, as well as observation.  I did a tiny drawing from the model in my sketchbook.

I went to the Frick Collection to visit their three Vermeers.  I picked my favorite of the three to sketch.

The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology had an exhibit of Dance & Fashion.  Again, I went through the exhibit, took some notes, and then picked a costume to draw.

Back at the Met, I met up with Kristy Gordon to sketch together!  We did some thumbnail sketches and then also spent a little longer on a few things.

Also at the Met, I drew from a sculpture of Leda and the Swan, and did really quick scribbly sketches of some furniture.

It was an amazing trip, and it really enriched my experience to set aside my self-consciousness and take the time to sketch!

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