How to See

The leather frog paperweight has no name.I’ve said it before in this scrolling chronicle, I’ll say it again: Do not go up unto the house of art without a little pad and little pencil. To look at a painting is only to look at it, but to sketch it is to see it. Stays in the brain better too, as though you’ve saved it to hard drive. So come equipped: bring your drawing tools.

You can take your time with the rendering, as I did today at The Getty Museum with this one of Gerard ter Borch’s A Maid Milking a Cow, an oil painting from 1652. (See a photo of the painting HERE.)

I bought this little pad in the Norton Simon Museum gift shop.

Or you can quickly scribble out a lightning-fast sketch. Frameable art is not the goal. All you’re going for is something to affix the image in your mind, like this barely-a-drawing of Gerard ter Borch’s The Horse Stable. (Photo of the 1654 oil painting HERE.)

Ter Borch. Vermeer of the farmyard.

Either way, when you look at your notes weeks or months in the future you won’t wonder (as I did only moments ago puzzling over a non-illustrated memo) who in the world is Charles Christian Nahl, and what does he have to do with “The Dead Miner?” I fervently pray it refers to a painting and not some foul crime to which I was witness, but how can I be sure? No sketch, no memory.

The little note pads in the photo above were purchased in museum gift shops for mere pennies. They tuck discreetly into the breast pocket ever ready to augment treacherous synapses. My preferred scribbling device happens to be a lacquered woodless graphite stick, but I think I know enough of art to know that for depiction pens are also smart and will suffice.

PS: Other examples of gallery sketching HERE and HERE and HERE.


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