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Sketch Book For The Artist
It seems reasonable to assume that we have engaged in pictorial mark-making for as long as we have made
conscious use of our hands.
In cave paintings like the one opposite, we see our oldest surviving images, created by societies of hunter-gatherers, who in their day-to-day hardship made time to picture themselves and the animals on which they depended.
Cave art was not made for decoration but as a fundamental part of life, an expression of existence, power, and belonging to place.
On a particular afternoon in September 1974, at age two-anda-half, I was sitting with my mother.
She gave me a notepad and a red crayon and asked me to draw her “a picture of Daddy.” Until this day, I, like all toddlers, had happily scribbled, enjoying the physical sensation of crayon on paper, and the appearance of my strikes of colors, but I had never yet attempted to figuratively picture my world.
The image above is what I gave back to my mother, and she kept it as my first step beyond the delighted realms of scrawl.
All artists see the world differently. The art historian Professor Sir Ernst Gombrich, author of The Story of Art, wrote as the opening line of this great work, “There really is no such thing as Art.
There are only artists.” The clarity and empowerment of these words, is, I hope, embedded in this book.
When we look back at Wallis’ seascape (see p. 11), it may not be accurate to our critical adult eye, but the child in us knows that this is an all-embracing, clear-minded understanding of the sea, boats, and breathtaking wind of a choppy harbor.
If as artists we nail a subject down too hard, we can drive out its spirit, and lose the very thing that attracted us to it.
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