Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Sketching 'in the field'

How much did Ronald Searle sketch 'in the field'? Were his wonderfully observed drawings such as that above made 'on the spot'. Did he create this marvellous picture with such vivid details & characters while sitting in semi-darkness in the basement bar of a Parisian 'revue show'?

In the book 'WHICH WAY DID HE GO?' the image appears next to this one.
Perhaps it offers us an insight into his working method; a clue as to how Searle may have worked in reality. It seems to indicate that Searle made quick, observational sketches 'on location', noting details that he would later combine & work into a cohesive whole back at his studio.
In Russell Davies' biography on Searle there are other indications that Searle worked in this manner. In the 60s while on assignment for HOLIDAY magazine Searle is said to have spent the day touring a particular destination/sight & then would draw up the finished illustration in the evening back at his hotel room.
Certainly his sketches made while in Hamburg seem to support this.

The unfinished, rapidly made marks of these sketches show that they were obviously made from life. The observations made here combined with memorised impressions allowed Searle to develop an image like this:

Further, in depth analysis of Searle's Hamburg Ladies over at Mark Kennedy's blog.

A drawing such as that above has the immediacy of a sketch made from life. The figures approach caricature but seem to be based on reality.

It's rare to find a Searle illustration that is an unfinished composition but again from 'WHERE DID HE GO?' we find a page of individual studies, perhaps taken from Searle's journey sketchbook?

These fairly realistic sketches made in a German beerhall must have been the foundation for the next more cartoony image:

"Place Dauphine, by the Place de Justice. May 6", depicting the square, with dog-walking woman, pissoir and trees,


Anonymous said...

This is such a wonderful blog! Thanks for sharing these scans. I love that Trois Freres sketchbook page.

justin said...

hey Matt,

Thanks for posting all this sketchbook stuff and some of the insight into Searles process. Truly inspiring stuff.