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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Creative Atom: introduction to quick-sketching

If someone asked you to write a description of the room you're sitting in right now so that a reader would be able to imagine it quite accurately, you would probably be able to do it without too much difficulty. It's a simple matter of writing a detailed report of the room and everything in it, using all five senses. It may take some time, but wouldn't require much brain effort.

But now, how about if you had to do it in 5 minutes, and use up to 50 words? (remember that the goal is still to convey the room as precisely as possible to the reader!)

Doubtlessly, this is a much more challenging task. The full report is simply an extensive account of the room, whereas the limited version requires creative interpretation, an ability to recognize quickly what's essential and what can be discarded, and good language skills to allow for an efficient choice of words.

Of course, minimalism can be exercised not only with words, but also with color, clay, musical notes or movie frames; and obviously not only rooms may be described concisely, but also people, feelings, situations, and even abstract ideas. The ability to compress extensive and complex information into a brief, simplified description, is at the very heart of what we call quick-sketching (or just "sketching", for simplicity).

In "The Art of Art" I present and explain the possibly surprising idea, that sketching is THE main skill of accomplished artists; that it is in fact impossible to create a fresh, well-crafted, finely detailed work without being good at it; and that the slightest improvement at the skill of sketching is going to be duplicated exponentially throughout the work, producing noticeable improvement. I think of the quick sketch as the atom of artistic skill.

A quick-sketch drawing exercise. within a few seconds and with very few lines, I summarized what I thought were the most important things that define the pose, exaggerated them for clarity and vitality, and omitted everything else. Notice, however, that the original drawing from Disney's "Jungle Book" is also a form of quick sketch - an exaggerated summary of the important traits of a puma, omitting a lot of less important information.

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