Often, when I buy a big hard-cover sketchbook, I’m intimidated to even draw in it at all. Instead, I do most of my drawing on scraps of paper, and glue these into the sketchbook, using it more like a scrap book. I buy sketchbooks with the intention of drawing from life but instead I mostly fill them with doodles, things drawn from out of my head.
When it comes to drawing realism, I have always admired people I have worked with who can pull plausible images out of their minds without resorting to reference. Even when the subject matter isn’t some fantasy-land or goof-ball cartoon, I enjoy seeing a personal stylisation that informs drawings of the “real” world. I think that has made me want to be capable of the same. But I realise that part of the reason that people can draw from memory or imagination is that is that they have spent the time puting images INTO their heads first.
I can be sloppy about using reference too… Though not always out of pure laziness. I have learned that I draw better caricatures from memory than I do from looking at a photograph directly. Memory seems to be a shorthand record of a person’s dominant features and attitudes; a good place to start in doing a caricature. Seeing myself as a cartoonist rather than an artist gives me a bit more licence to exaggerate and fudge the details…
I suppose that the reason I started drawing in the first place was that it was a form of escapism. It wasn’t about representing reality but coming up with an alternative. Anyway, as much as I enjoy doodling from my imagination, I have been thinking that I need to more often feed it it with some reality; life drawing or sketching from life, or even copying images from books and magazines, is something that I need to do more of… in order to find that balance of personal style and plausiblity.