Drawing to fill the mind, painting to empty it


The weekend of July 20th - 21st I attended a two day sketching workshop at Parrsboro Creative with Tom Forrestall.

Tom Forrestall has long been one of my favourite painters - High Realism, or Magic Realism as some call it, is the style of representation that speaks the loudest to me! A chance to spend a couple of days with a master in this field could no be passed up...

This particular workshop was dedicated to sketching. Tom Forrestall is a compulsive sketcher. He has filled more than 300 sketchbooks over the span of his career and shows no signs of slowing down. His sketchbooks are filled not only with thumbnail studies of bits and pieces of whole paintings but also with numerous self portraits, pages of musings and reflexions and doodles that probably will never become finished works but at the same time exercise his imagination.

Listening to him talk about his creative process and looking over the hundreds of small sketches that go into the developpement of any one of his concepts is so inspiring! Tom Forrestall believes that an artist can never completely render on board, paper or canvas, the  image that is in his or her mind, but through the intensive sketching process the image becomes so familiar that when it comes time to render it with the final medium it becomes a relatively easy process; all of the little bugs have been worked out.

I realize that this seemingly ardous process would seem strange to those who practice more intuitive forms of painting, but I can't help but be awed by the works that the result of this research. Tom Forrestall sees it as "drawing to fill the mind, painting to empty it".

For the first day of the workshop we sketched our own hands. It is amazing how little we know these appendages that are always right there in front of us... The second day we continued to sketch little every day objects. In both cases we were asked to draw our subjects larger than life. It is relatively easy to draw a subject smaller than life as one can eliminate details too small to be rendered. When drawing larger than life however, any deviation from the actual shape is very obvious! 

Have I kept up with my daily sketching since the workshop? Well, it does take a certain amount of time to develope a new habit... But my sketch book is right beside my computer here and I have been doing more than before. I doubt that I will give up on using photos as a reference but sketching does help to develop new ideas and any pointers from Tom Forrestall are well worth using!






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