Getting Comfortable with Roughs

Sometimes when we are drawing, we can get obsessed with the perfection of the thing we are doing, forgetting about the purpose of it. These tumbling rough drawings by Masters, made as preparatory sketches, or as studies, are often the most thrilling things in any museum show, for me.







Pier Francesco Mola

It’s interesting that they all have a similar quality: a tumbling, joyous line, a freedom, a joy.











Peter Paul Rubens

The variety of line weight, the delicacy of the marks, the organization of the page, the fluidity of the thought passing directly onto the paper–I think you can feel the artist here–as if they were standing next to us, their conte crayon or ink pen in hand, a thoughtful expression on their faces, a smudge on their nose, perhaps–extremely immediate.











Francesco Goya

Sometimes that feeling of connection gets lost when the rough has been translated into a finished piece. There are other joys there–color, fluidity of paint, luminosity, bravura–but that feeling of comradeship is harder to capture then.










Isadoro Bianchi

The sketches I find the most exciting in my own sketchbooks, looking back through them, are those where I have lost myself–I have forgotten all the rules, and am excited about getting something down before I forget–the flow, the motion, the gesture. These sketches, more than the ones I labor over to a conclusion, are the ones that make me want to get into my studio and work!

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