Ever since I posted about unfinished sketches last summer,
I’ve been scanning them and putting them in a folder as they come up. In the
past, I would not have scanned or shared them because they are just virtual “throwaways”
– part of the usual process of being an urban sketcher. But that post I wrote
made me realize that unfinished business is one of many things unique to urban
sketching as an art form – and it’s worth acknowledging and even celebrating.
Studio artists may decide to abandon a work when things aren’t going well, so the piece remains unfinished. But only those who sketch or paint on location under changing, uncontrollable conditions have the experience of being interrupted and sometimes having to stop when they didn’t want to. It can be frustrating, but as I said before, it’s just part of the process for me, so I don’t mind.
Some artists get upset about a “bad” sketch “ruining” their sketchbook, so they avoid taking a chance that a work might end up unfinished. I like these bits of incomplete visual thoughts in my sketchbooks because they exhibit a lack of preciousness.
Much of life is about interruptions and other circumstances that we can’t control. A sketchbook is as good a place as any to document them.