A couple of weeks ago I followed Turner to the end of the Caledonian Canal at Monteith basin. On my phone I had a digital image of the drawings he made there just nine years after its opening in 1822 and I hoped to find some trace of those marks remaining in the landscape. The drawings are cursory and so it is difficult to map them to location. This got me thinking about a distinction between drawing and sketching I hadn’t really c0nsidered before. Previously, I assumed sketching was really just ‘drawing lite’, mostly distinguished by time and fluidity. Working at Cromarty has opened useful threads of distinction between these two close (some would argue, interchangeable) definititions. I think the term ‘drafting’ is probably akin to sketching too, but I might need to (over) analyse that further? Drawing, it seems to me is more deliberately concerned with picture making. When the word ‘out’ is appended to the word ‘sketching’ it seems to take on a different purpose again, to do with learning and knowing something. In other words, sketching is a mode of drawing to do with gathering information that might become knowledge and which, then, is deployed elsewhere. Discuss! Either way, it helped me engage with the landscape in Northern Scotland in different ways – getting lost in mark-making for its own sake, or making visual notes with a view to painting.
Anyway, I found an iron railway bridge near the end of the canal with a red circle painted on the side and made a quick sketch of it, noting some atmospheric conditions, but primarily trying to note the structure of the motif as a way of getting to know it so in a way that I might even be able to recall it verbally, without recourse to the drawing if necessary. Back at the stables I made a small painted study of the scene (above). I think I found Turner in two senses: sketching as ‘knowing’ and his cold burning sun motif, blazing on the side of the bridge.