Relocating to Wisconsin was done with such haste that I am still discovering unopened boxes of items. Some items I have not seen in years. One such discovery was a series of old sketchbooks.
A five-minute sketch of a landscape painting on display at an art museum. The composition captured, but not the details.
A loose sketch of a production of Shakespeare in the Park.
A 30-minute sketch of a roommate reading a magazine. That was back in the days before mobile phones, tablets and laptop computers.
When I flipped through the pages of these sketchbooks there was a mixture of despair and some other unnamed emotion. Is it possible to name every emotion? Is it necessary to catalog everything in the cosmos in hopes of gaining understanding? Or knowledge? Or wisdom? But I digress.
Each sketch had a story. The night at a downtown pub when I learned I was no good at billiards. After the first game, I enjoyed the rest of the evening by doing sketches. I remember the show at the art museum and the artist represented. The friends who invited me to see Shakespeare in the Park. And the rare moment a very charismatic roommate sat on the couch before jetting off to a concert or movie or date or some other activity.
A sketch is an exercise that precedes a painting. But these sketches never received the intended painting. Reportedly, Thomas More’s poems for Epigrammata began as a Latin translation exercise. If I view these sketches as lost paintings, I despair. But if I view these sketches as exercises, I am gratified.
The practice of sketching is an exercise and preliminary draft of an art object. Even today, I still sketch ideas and images. For example, I was asked to create a logo design for a business event.
After some discussion the request included the city skyline of Milwaukee.
Once a plan was in place, I quickly moved to a digital rendering of the logo design and colors. Securing a piece of stock illustration, I customized the vector image and crafted a logotype used to promote and represent the business event.
The pace of work is so fast, months go by without me realizing the value of the brand created. What took hours over the span of a few days, was on display on the front page of the newspaper and behind a representative from the Federal Reserve Bank in Chicago.
A few small three-inch square pen sketches became a huge display banner at a business event in Milwaukee. The practice of sketching is twofold: exercise and exhibit. The path to the 2019 Economic Forecast event logo and banner was a thousand unseen sketches. Page after page. Year after year. A lot of practice pieces that remain lost from view. But without them the objects that are visible would not have been created.