A few years back I picked up a sketchbook and began what I call ‘chicken-scratching.’ My little doodles are nothing to write home about, but, I do so enjoy it. I have one little book filled with drawings of flowers and leaves. But, while staying up in the woods at the prayer cabin last November, I decided to try my hand at something a bit more difficult.
After trekking through the woods looking for just the right subjects to try my hand at, I shot a few photos and then headed back to the cabin to give it a go.
Recently I showed my sketch to a friend of mine. She couldn’t make out what in the world it was. That made me laugh out loud! “I guess you’re not looking at the next van Gogh, then,” I said with a wink.
The fact is most sketches aren’t intended to be a finished work. They are a rough freehand drawing to help an artist (and I use that term for myself very loosely!) record what they see and how they see it. In my case, a casual scribble settles my spirit and feeds my creativity. But, those scribbles were never intended to hang in a gallery.
All you have to do is place my sketch alongside of the actual photo and it’s not hard to spot all the inaccuracies. My rendition of the cabin, for instance, is much too large and the colors are far too bright. The gray shadows in the tree line and on the snow are obviously missing. Branches and pine needles are misshapen and misplaced.
The other evening as I sat sketching, a quote from a scene in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice came sweeping back through my mind. As these words rolled over and over in my thoughts, I was reminded that one doesn’t necessarily need a pad and pencil to sketch something. We do it all the time in our mind's eye.
‘May I ask to what these questions tend?’
‘Merely to the illustration of your character, I am trying to make it out.’
‘And what is your success?’
She shook her head. ‘I do not get on at all. I hear such differing accounts of you as puzzle me exceedingly.’
‘I ask, Miss Bennet, that you were not to sketch my character at the present moment...’
But, if I do not take your likeness now, I many never have another opportunity.’
Lizzy Bennett had begun sketching a portrait of Mr. Darcy from just a few chance meetings together, and it wasn’t a flattering one at that. She had rendered him a rich snob, who was stoic, mean-spirited, and the proudest, most disagreeable man in the world. In fact, she had gone so far as to think him the last man on earth she could ever marry.
Of course, Lizzy’s sketch of Mr. Darcy was anything but accurate. Mr. Darcy was rich to be sure, but, as she discovered upon further contact, he had no improper pride, but was perfectly amiable.
How often do we, too, sketch another’s portrait based on limited information? Something as simple as thinking one old because they are prematurely gray, or proud because they are quiet and stand aside listening instead of chattering away like some are in the habit of doing.
Before we declare our assumptions as fact, we must get the full picture. We must remember that a sketch is not a complete portrayal. It is a rough, freehand drawing not a finished work of art.
Don’t judge others, and you will not be judged... The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.