Peter Inglis on Drawing

It may appear as if 
my sketches are done effortlessly, 
but it actually 
takes a lot of focus and a developed confidence in mark making. 
This can only be reached by drawing constantly.

The artists I choose to look at — Post-Minimalist sculpture and the Land art movement — include Richard SerraClement MeadmoreMichael Heizer and Andy Goldsworthy.

Even though these artists' ideas may differ, they have a shared interest in infusing geometric abstraction with gesture, and using non-traditional processes, materials and forms. The forms are kept simple. As a result it is open for interpretation from one's own experiences, demanding personal aesthetic perception from the viewer. I see drawing in these artists' works, a play of horizontal and vertical lines in contrast with curved lines. The curve symbolizing fluid and dynamic aspects; the straight line symbolizing the static, structural and orderly. The two combined create a powerful and dynamic composition.

I try to achieve this in my own drawing. In music, Miles Davis, one of my favorite musicians, uses notes economically, playing simple, perfectly phrased melodic ideas, and using space to imply more than what he is actually playing.  If an artist can appreciate and see beauty in simple things it will reflect in their own work.

Drawing for me is basically responding to a subject and working intuitively to find the right placement of lines and shapes in relation to one another — deciding what to add and what to leave out. Finding these lines is a compromise between seeing and feeling.

When drawing the entire figure I will begin by finding the most obvious and definite lines and curves.

I draw not what the subject looks like so much, but the essence of what it is doing — the energy of the gesture, the rhythms, a balance of directional forces, repeated lines that run parallel to one another and echo throughout the subject.  My main focus is on the energy and quality of the lines and curves themselves.

On a head study I like to begin from the inside and work my way out.  I search for the abstract qualities, finding my way to the perimeter of the head.

My only approach is to sketch the subject with immediacy.  A repetition of quick 1 to 5 minute sketches forces me to make decisive and deliberate strokes that are of most importance and with no revisions. The strokes suggest rather than describe.  I prefer to work with black Prismacolor pencil for its permanency.


When I feel as though I have established a major arrangement of lines that hold the piece together I will add any fragments that I feel would enhance the design.  This can be a delicate task; every line should support and strengthen one another.  Adding too much can disrupt the overall arrangement.  These added details will be light, as if they are in a state of suspension, like subtle musical notes that dance above the underlying rhythm.

I enjoy sketching clothed figures.  What interests me is the way clothes find their shape on the human body.  The lines and folds follow the form, adding a wonderful display of smaller notes of movement.

I seem to have more control and flow of my stroke when my hand is on the paper, dragging my knuckles and keeping my wrist locked in place.  This allows for me to use my entire arm.  I have my eyes fixed on the subject as much as I do on the paper.  I keep my eyes seeing and my arm moving.

It may appear as if my sketches are done effortlessly but it actually takes a lot of focus and a developed confidence in mark making.  This can only be reached by drawing constantly.

The process of drawing to me is similar to playing darts, bowling, pitching a baseball or any hand-and-eye coordination, where you focus and execute. It should be spontaneous.

It's always hit or miss for me. I can be completely off mark but eventually will knock one out that I truly enjoy. I can draw the same pose 10 times and bring out something different in each one.  

I never know when I will have that day when I am in complete focus, so I get in the habit of keeping a running sketch pad with me at all times.  There's no greater feeling than to create a successful drawing unexpectedly — being at the right place at the right time and in the right mindset.

Peter Inglis website.

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