I know many people have the idea that artists get a sudden flash of inspiration and then are able to go straight to a finished piece, but for me art making is a long, multi-stage process. When I first start on a large scale project I often spend weeks researching, sketching, and brainstorming before I even start making anything. I usually start in a small sketch book with quick sketches, notes, and ideas. The sketches are very crude and basic and look nothing like my finished drawings; they’re just a way for me to record ideas, plan, problem solve, and keep track of different parts of projects.

From there I develop some of the ideas into drawings like the ones you see on this website. Some of these are finished drawings, like the snow buntings, but others are studies for larger or more complex pieces. They are a way to work out ideas from my sketchbook and develop images further on a small scale with simple materials before committing huge amounts of time and materials to an idea. Drawing also helps me learn more about my subjects by observing them closely. By drawing things repeatedly I gain a better understanding of walrus anatomy, or how plankton join together in chains, or how a polar bear walks for when I make the final piece. They become familiar.

When I feel sure of what I am trying to do and how I want to go about it, I finally move on to more complex pieces with more involved materials and processes. The sketchbook pages take only a few minutes for me to complete, the drawings usually take a couple of hours, and the finished pieces take days or even weeks. I haven’t made any really finished work yet on this cruise. I’m still in the drawing and image gathering phase right now, going back and forth between the two, filling sketchbook pages in between drawings as I work things out and ideas from one drawing lead to another.

I am trying to take full advantage of this opportunity to experience the Arctic and learn as much as possible from the scientists studying it while building up a body of drawings and ideas to work from later. I will make the finished work when I get home and have access to more tools and materials.

These are some of my sketchbook pages and more planning oriented drawings from the first half of the cruise so you can see the starting point for some of my work and that I too am capable of bad animal drawings!

About The Author

Chelsea Clarke

Chelsea is an artist working on Cape Cod. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Printmaking and Drawing from Maine College of Art. She will be making daily drawings based on her daily experiences while also developing imagery for a larger body of finished prints.

3 Responses

  1. Philip Kowalski

    Thanks for a very informative post on how an artist works

  2. Chelsea Clarke

    Hi Amanda’s Dad! Thanks for the compliment and I’m glad you’re enjoying the site!


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