Saturday, May 10, 2003

As often as I can I grab a sketchbook and draw the first thing that catches my eye. It is a good way of ‘keeping your eye in’ to borrow a phrase from cricket. So this is a page of sketchbook studies of plants. It might be of interest to know that they were done with a cut turkey quill. Having seen some Rembrandt drawings I was moved by a fit of nostalgic idealism to get back to traditional artists tools and carried around a little bottle of Acrylic Artists Ink to use with the quill. (I baulked at Rembrandt’s method of making drawing ink by using soot mixed with water!)

I also had a spell of making copies from Leonardo’s landscape drawings and plant studies. The BBC website currently carries some fascinating material about Leonardo da Vinci to supplement Alan Yentob’s television programmes. Leonado was first and foremost trained as a painter but his restless enquiring mind took his interests beyond purely painterly concerns. For Leonardo painting was a science, a branch of optics by which it was possible to describe the world through careful observation and applying the principles of perspective.

What interests me most about Leonardo is his astounding ability to communicate his ideas and explore the world through drawing. Draughtsmanship was the primary tool he used to explain his ideas. His notebooks are full of beautiful drawings the written notes seem to be dashed down and frequently written backwards due perhaps to his left-handedness and have to be deciphered in a mirror.

In addition to the BBC web site it is also worth visiting these:-

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