Toroazul Painting and Fine Arts
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Pastels, etc. -- Page 7
The artistic process:
The power of
scribbles
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Las perlas de Margarita (or
The Pearl fisherman of the
Island of Margarita)
gouache 23"  x  36"
1988
Private collection
One of the most exciting discoveries in my life as a young  
artist came from seeing the power of spontaneous, almost
non-selfconscious sketching and doodles.  At first, however,  
I felt there was a huge abyss of quality between my doodles
and the sorts of work I thought others would appreciate.
Las perlas de Margarita
(or The Pearl fisherman of
the Island of Margarita)
8.5 "  x  11 "
pen and ink
1988
Private collection
The pair of images above show how my larger, polished color-pencil drawing
of "The Fisherman and his Wife," came from a quick black and white notation
from a small travel sketchbook that I kept as I explored the northeastern coast
of Venezuela (known as Barlovento)  by bus in the late 1980s, looking for
subjects to paint.
Some years before,  a Catholic monk friend of mine from upstate New York had
told me to value all my thumbnail sketches (or "croquis," as he called them in
Spanish)--- and to keep doing them, alongside my more laborious pieces. In
fact, the more I switched back and forth from spontaneous croquis to more
controlled studies in pencil, charcoal, or watercolor, I began to feel the two
approaches converge.
The sort of scribble my friend talked about  is what Leonardo DaVinci  also
called the "stain" (in Italian, "macchia, mack-ee-ah). In various passages of
his famous journals, Leonardo insists not only that the painter should first
work out his painted compositions as loose, gestural notations in crayon or
ink,  but that those same crayon or ink tangles contained the seed or inner
movement of the more developed images.  The more I trusted and enjoyed the
croquis stage, the more spontaneous my controlled sketching or painting
became! I saw, too, how a good painting could be developed  from a lowly,
almost throwaway scribble!  
Eventually, I trusted thumbnail sketches even for
commissioned portraits. For example, the two
quick studies for this large (40" x 30") family
portrait  allowed me to make decisions about the
best placement for the girl in blue so she would
not overpower  the family grouping!
In another of my early commissioned portraits,  it took several
"croquis" to hit the bullseye, . . . making erasures and moving "Ana
Maria" and her favorite cat, Missito, and eventually drawing in a
"frame" in pencil (bottom right) as Ana and I decided to include
Missito's female companion, Missita. The "croqui" frame or
picture window is a great aspect of this technique.
Of course, this is only part of
the story of this portrait. The
way I captured the light
behind Ana's splendid neck
and the radiant blush of her
creamy white skin --- to
achieve these with a chalk
pastel  is no easy feat.  The
artist needs to work with
 
passion
and determination.
But the seed of it all is in my
friend's "croqui" !
Back to Pastels,
etc.
..
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Go to Portraits
to view these two
commissioned
works and others.
Back to Top
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Back to Homepage
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See also The Power of Preliminary
Sketches (or Page 8 ---
CLICK HERE)