by Fred Lynch, near Boston Massachusetts
A big part of sketching is timing. Inspiration has much to do with being at the right place - at the right time. Turning a corner can cause your heart to skip a beat, from the view. But, love can be fleeting.
I often tell my students of the time I found a roundish car under a series of arches (see below). It was such a wonderful composition, and I found it so irresistable, that I had to stop everything, and draw. However, I was very fearful that this perfect car, in its perfect place, would leave me! It looked like it was hastily parked - perhaps illegally (not uncommon in Italy). So, I followed a rule of many sketchers - that is, to draw first, the things that could move from your scene. The only problem being that I prefer to draw slowly, and that I tend to work everything on the page at once - going from the general to the specific. That made for a stressful drawing for me.
In time, however, I had captured the car, and everything else. I walked away proud of what I'd caught. Nothing had escaped. The car never moved.
That was one of the early years that I travelled to Viterbo, Italy (to teach). Now that I've gone many times, I know that that car is ALWAYS there! That's its spot! I've seldom walked by that street, which I pass often, without the car being there. Which leads me to my new drawing.
It's been said that re-reading a book can be even more pleasurable than reading it. When we experience something a second time, or at a later time, we come to enjoy it differently, or more deeply. I've wondered recently if in drawing, that is true as well. Personally, I prefer to not repeat myself. I'm perfectly comfortable with variations of similar things in my art, but to me, sameness, or formula, is a great fear - a sign of stagnation, I suppose. For me, each drawing needs to be a new drawing. It needs to have a new reason for being.
Last year, walking around Viterbo, I bumped into one of my old friends - a beautiful old Cinquecento, sitting just where I left it years ago. Unexpectedly falling in love all over again, I sat to redraw the scene, from almost the same spot. This time, I drew larger, longer, and with ink, rather than ballpoint pen. But it was almost the same picture and almost the same time of day. Thankfully, soon after starting, a woman in a white dress (matching the car), stopped at the other end of the street long enough for me to capture her on the page, and by doing so, to change the concept of the work. The two bright characters made a lovely pair - a visual relationship. And it forced me to use every bit of courage to NOT draw the level of detail in this piece, as I'm prone to do - and saving all my love for the couple in white.