sketchbook dispatches 1

although i embroider, i’ve had an odd resistance to calling myself an artist for a long time. i’m entirely self-taught; i know plenty of people who have formal educations. i never used to think of myself as someone who had an artistic eye, even. it was just a talent i didn’t have.

in fact, on top of the row of obvious problems with the above, i actually draw constantly. (sorry, “doodle.” i’m Not An Artist, after all.) i keep a sketchbook. i use it for embroidery planning less than you might think–i’m incurably inclined towards improvisation–but of course, the fact that i do draw means something for how i can embroider: it means i’ve thought about shape and volume, and i study the structure of objects compulsively. motifs i’ve drawn again and again will eventually work their way into embroidery. the ghost city is an old friend of mine, and if i hold a pencil and don’t concentrate i’m pretty likely to start sketching masonry. i play around with different materials. i’ve done a little work in watercolour and a lot in ink. i am, of course, an artist, no matter whether the art i’m making is anything i consider, you know, good. because it’s a thing i do, that matters to me. and obviously, if you make art at all, you have to make bad art. that’s just how it is. in honour of that, i’m going to put up some sketches from time to time: not complete things, or polished things, but the sort of thing i do idly to work through ideas.

i want to take a look at architecture and structure sketching today.

i work in ink, generally with no undersketch in pencil, when i’m just experimenting – the texture of ink makes more sense to me. for a long time, i drew ghost cities – which i don’t have on hand in my current sketchbook – which were flat skyline images that didn’t use perspective. you can see them in my embroidery, as i noted above:

in a way, while it’s an image i love, i began using it because i was intimidated by the idea of perspective. i turned landscapes into section drawings, because archaeological illustration was really all i’d done since high school. i could think about outline and eliminate detail. or, moving beyond that, i could stay close to technical illustration:

moving beyond that has been a pretty new development – new meaning the last year, i suppose. a slow, slow process of thinking about perspective or about how component parts fit together, leaving things impressionistic or more complex or both.

// eli