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What You See Versus What You Draw!

Dear Planksters,

The eight days of Passover have ended but during this break, the weather has been kind and I’ve had ample opportunity to take walks in the park and whilst I wasn’t sketching, I set out purposely to observe.

As I looked at different scenes unfolding before me; a girl running, a small boy hiding and peeking out from behind a tree, the light falling on the fields in the distance, the shadows of various trees formed by the afternoon sun, the detail of the end of a severed branch of a tree, I compared how I would draw these versus how they actually appeared.

I considered which colours I would put on first when illustrating a tree, dark to light or, dark, light and then the in-between colours, or just random splatters? It was an enjoyable exercise.

The other day I was looking again at some drawings by Quentin Blake, and his ability to capture movement in children is amazing. Take this picture, for example, if I had drawn a little boy walking off, his limbs would not have been so bendy, and that left arm would have been pointing backwards, mirroring the action of the right arm, his pyjama top would not be sloping off his shoulder and he would look reserved, very ‘British’ and not utterly carefree. (This is the genius of Mr Blake!)

When out observing actual children playing in the park, it’s clear that their bodies, more often than not, don’t conform to Quentin Blake’s renditions at all. However, the energy that he captures is there and it is this force, this pure and almost brutal energy that he draws and then just happens to add the relevant body parts around it.

This is why it doesn’t matter in his drawings if a kid has six fingers or if someone’s knee is bending in seemingly the wrong direction – the energy is spot on and that’s what he draws. The same is true for his inanimate objects, the messy cupboard, the classroom – the feeling you get when you view his work is authentic and highly relatable.

Whilst I’m not Quentin Blake, what I do hope to learn from him and from my observations in the park, is to somehow, learn to feel and then inject some of the energy of reality into my art and then build the detail up around that.

Planksters, do please feel ‘at home’ enough here to share your thoughts and comments!

Full of British outer reserve, but waving wildly and energetically at you all from the inside,

Thalamus Plank

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