Keep your sketches.

There is an unseen conversation going on in this picture. It is a chat between man and machine.

When the original sketches for this picture were posted, my good friend Richard spotted them and sent me a mail. Although my own feelings what might be being said here leant towards the idea that either party could be asking of the other, “let’s see what you’ve got, what you’re made of?”, he likened it to ones acquaintance with a long term friend, and the continuation of a conversation. There is no questioning in his version, just a simple statement, “hello old friend, let’s go out and play”.

For me it works both ways and what lies at the core of either is the belief that one forms relationships with objects that you interact with, both on an emotional and physical level. This is true about many objects that we choose to spend time with.

Ask any motorcyclist about the bikes they own or have owned and they will fall into one of the following two categories (probably). Firstly there are those that do nothing more than give us access to their basic usefulness, provide transport for us, carry us from A to B. They are handy, but never indispensable. Appreciated but never loved. Used but never improved. The second group are different. They connect with us on an emotional level beyond the practical, we consider their good and bad points in equal measure and make improvements where we can. We clean them out of pride as much as necessity, and we like to show them off. In short we invest time in making them ours. They are often referred to as “keepers”.

To some extent it’s the same with the many sketches I produce. Again there are those whose only function seems to be to act as the expression of an idea and nothing more. Their purpose totally fulfilled purely through existence, visual jots to remind you that you had an idea. It would be easy to think that the group that sits alongside these would be those that hit the spot first time, but this would be untrue. They do occasionally appear but it’s rare. Like the bikes that turn into “keepers”, members of this other group connect with us in a different way. We see in them the potential of an idea that is yet to be fully formed. With a bit of time and effort thrown at it you know what’s lurking in there can be brought to the surface. It might mean totally redrawing it, many times over in some cases, or it may require nothing more than the addition or relocation of a few lines. The more you can see the potential emerge the more you’re inspired to tease more of it out. Before you realise it you’ve got another “keeper”, ready to work up to a finished image.

Have you ever wondered why so many of us scribblers keep so many piles of apparently jumbled and crumpled sketch sheets? Although I spend a great deal of time and energy sketching out fresh ideas, a good deal of time is also spent revisiting many older ones too. Spreading them out across the floor and having  another look for that spark always throws up something new that perhaps you didn’t see before. Finding these “sleepers” and working to turn them into “keepers” is one of the great pleasures in making these drawings. It provides a big chunk of the creative reward and always reminds me that it’s not always about the end goal, but the journey one took to reach it.

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