Saturday, August 2, 2014

But is it Art . . . ?

8/1/14 Platinum Carbon ink, watercolor, Caran d'Ache Museum water-soluble colored pencils, Canson XL 140 lb. paper

About a year ago when Nilda and I sketched on Whidbey Island, we both wore Polartec as the typical marine layer kept the morning air damp and cold. Not so yesterday, when we had a mix of warm sunshine and clouds all day. We were there to join the Whidbey Island Sketchers and Seattle Urban Sketchers for a joint sketchcrawl at Cloudstone Sculpture Park in Freeland.

The vast park is filled with mostly abstract stone, iron, steel and earthwork sculptures, some of which are gigantic and many of which are still in progress. Many also seemed to be made of found parts – pieces that once belonged to machines or other industrial mechanical works. I spotted a well-corroded but still-bright yellow crane (with Phyllis sketching next to it), which had clearly seen many years of hard work. My only questions: Was this piece of heavy equipment a functioning part of the sculpture park? Or was it now a work of art?

8/1/14 Pilot Iroshizuku Take-sumi and Diamine Chocolate Brown
inks, Caran d'Ache Museum water-soluble colored pencils
As I was sketching it, sculptor Hank Nelson wandered by, so I asked the questions. It turned out this isn’t art at all – it’s still a highly functioning piece of equipment needed to move the large, heavy works.

I didn’t want to leave the park without sketching at least one of the actual sculptures at this fascinating outdoor gallery, so before our sketchbook sharing, I quickly sketched another artist working on a carved stone piece.

One piece I sketched earlier in the day in Langley was clearly a sculpture: the work of Georgia Gerber, a local bronze sculptor. The 1986 piece called Boy and Dog had been “dressed” with foil headgear!

8/1/14 Pilot Iroshizuku Take-sumi and Diamine Chocolate Brown
inks, Caran d'Ache Museum water-soluble colored pencils


  1. Nice sketches especially of the crane! Glad you had a warm day of sketching. It sounds like an interesting park.

  2. Ah..."is it art?" "Are you an artist?" Love how you've underscored the silliness of the question with a genuine question of 'Is this part of the display...or not?" I feel the same way about half the stuff I see at our art museums :-) I like the crane better.

    I love that sketch. Not only is it a nice sketch of a crane with personality, you've juxtaposed it with a sketcher, sort of a yin/yang. Wonderful!

    Cheers --- Larry


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