Sketching is drawing for no-one — there’s no imagined audience. When it works, I let go of my need to make it good, to decorate the page, and just see what I’m looking at. The tree becomes a strange twisting puzzle of shapes I’ve never seen before, shapes that seem impossible, or wrong, not what a tree is supposed to look like, but I draw them anyway.
From a very young age we stock our minds with a vocabulary of symbols— a flag is a rectangle, a face is a circle, a tree is a trunk with branches— but the reality of things is bewildering and abstract. Drawing becomes an act of rebellion, breaking the categories we’ve placed things into: a tree does not look like a tree, a face is not a circle, a flag almost never a rectangle. Sketching is the mental exercise of seeing without symbols and categories.
I find trees particularly challenging, they’re hard to see, always obscuring themselves with branches. I struggle to let go of what I think a tree looks like and draw what I’m actually seeing. When the tree starts to emerge on the page it’s a kind of magic, revealing to me what this tiny piece of the world looks like.