“It is only by drawing often, drawing everything, drawing incessantly, that you discover to your surprise that you have rendered something in its true character.” Pissarro
Figurative painting has it’s foundations in drawing. A soft pencil, B4 perhaps, and a sketchbook that fits into a pocket, A5 size, is all that’s needed. I can never get bored with a sketchbook handy, the most mundane subjects become fascinating once you start the process of trying to get it down on paper, fascinating subjects become more so.
The poet Derek Walcott, who is also a painter, has said, “the perpetual ideal is astonishment”. I often find that drawing leads me to that feeling, perhaps because I am looking more intensely and have become more open to the subject and spontaneous in my response. The subjects and possible outcomes are endless. Some attempts work, others don’t, it’s only paper and it’s better to not be precious with it, but it gives great satisfaction when a drawing works.
Some sketches are done to get specific information, others to explore compositional ideas or subjects for a painting, others for no reason at all. Being stuck on a train or at an airport becomes an opportunity to explore a subject you wouldn’t have noticed. Sketching one of your family or a friend while they watch television allows you to look at them for far longer than you would normally do and be astonished by them.