Landscapes have never been my thing, not as a subject for drawing. Drive through them yes. Admire the view yes. Landscapes have such jaw-dropping scope that I am completely overwhelmed at the prospect of capturing the vision on paper.
Amazingly, I’ve just discovered that being at the beach does bring out my hidden landscape artist “wanna-be”. But the fear of translation still resides inside me. This scene is ever changing. Every moment reveals a different reality – look away, now look again – the view has changed. The sand has moved, the colors have altered, new cracked up pieces of sea creatures have floated in, old ones have now churned under the surf. Fascinating to watch, frustrating to try and capture, and impossible not to become a participant, the beach is life rocketing by in slow motion. I find that I am not quick enough to capture all of this hand-wringing, life or death drama on paper.
But, I try. And, there’s the thing.
Looking at what I’ve sketched falls decidedly short of the drama that I’m witnessing. But, it’s OK. Because the act of tracing it all with my eyes, of becoming part of each wave’s curl, of watching every quick and crooked step of the tern, of comparing the blue shadows in the sand, has solidified my own place in this landscape. I’m now emotionally and physically invested in This Very Moment, and no other.
Sketching is living in the moment. One moment.
There isn’t room, now, for common worry or plans to be made, or broken, or guilt… my only concern is to really see, and understand as deeply as I can, this single space of time. Later, when I look back at this amateurish sketch, instead of dissatisfaction, I will relive, in a real and sensory way, that little life experience. I will recall not just a general memory of a day at the beach, but I will smell the salt, feel the small pelts of sand that the wind throws against my face, see the tern’s knobby knee legs and look again into the eye of the gull that sat close by and kept me company. In that sketch I will feel the melting autumn sun again. And, there my friends, is the magic of sketching. Just begin.