I don’t have a good mental template for goats.
Pigs are also tricky. Their legs are so stiff. I need to spend more time sitting on a fence drawing them.
One of the many excellent reasons to sketch from life is that your mind and hand start to learn the basic lines that make up an animal or person or a movement — the top picture suggest I’ve spent more time drawing people interacting with clothes than drawing goats at all — and what makes a shadow mean things, and where the drama is in tiny far-off airport workers.
It’s the same with writing. Taking notes out and about is a good way to get an appreciation of the range of habits and rhythms of interactions, and Angela Slatter has occasionally given me homework in the form of sitting under a tree for an hour and describing the leaves without using the word “green” (but more vehemently).
Even if I never go back to refer to these, even if I’m inventing worlds, the act of noticing gets the world into your fingertips, in all its textures and varieties, and it’s there when you need it.
Of course, it doesn’t just give a template. Sketching reminds me when to deviate from a template. Those are the details and textures that bring a picture or a world to life.
How do people actually interact with plinths?
And it’s suprising how often the person holding out their arms and twirling in a cafe is not, as might be the obvious conclusion, a little girl, but a man demonstrating the move to his daughter, who is holding a stuffed tiger and regarding him with doubt.
Observation is so important for both art and writing. I often think of Sherlock Holmes. People see, but they do not observe. I also think it’s so interesting where people’s interests lie. I’ve always been fascinated by animals, so I watch how they move and are articulated. I think I could sketch an ok goat. My people are clumsy monsters though.
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