Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Don West "The simplest of things"

With his sketches Don West gives a new look at things that we rarely notice or even consider. I particularly like the way he writes stories next to the sketches and how they  become part of his art. With tradeyourtalent he speaks about idle minutes in our lives and how the simplest of things can conjure up stories or memories.

Your sketch blog is called "Idle Minutes". What is your blog about?

Don: We all have idle minutes in our lives. Waiting at the airport, sitting on a bench while our significant other shops, lunch breaks, work breaks, watching television. We have considerably more idle time than we're aware of in the course of a day. (If you don't...slow down!) Idle Minutes, the blog, is about what I do in my own idle minutes...which is usually sketch something for the blog. That doesn't always hold true. I have periods when I don't do much in the way of creativity. But I'm almost always thinking about it even if I'm not motivated to act.

These sketches tend to be of things, people, situations, stories, travel, and the occasional beautiful scene that moves me. Any subject that I fancy for the moment really. They are sketches of my experiences in my daily life. An illustrated journal if you will. I put them on a blog because it's fun to do. I meet a lot of people through the blog who are entertained by the material there. They range from artists to people who have never attempted to draw. And there are many, many people across the globe who do the same thing. We all stumble upon each others blogs and become subscribers. I've currently got over a hundred email subscribers and forty to fifty feed reader subscribers. They just come out of nowhere. Apparently they enjoy what I'm doing and that makes it even more fun for me.

Can you remember your first sketch? 

Don: Well...for Idle Minutes, it was the first post back in 2006. (I've since lost all those posts as the result of a hacking incident.) It was of a small, ill-kept, single-story, cinderblock building in North Georgia that I would pass while traveling to the mountains. It sat right beside the highway and had a row of rusted and dented washers, dryers, and refrigerators lined up against the facade. Dirty glass picture windows with spider webs flanked the single entry door which sported a black aluminum screen door dangling on its hinges, the screen torn. Grass and weeds were growing up through the derelict appliances. Scenes like this are sprinkled all about the rural United States. What struck me about this scene was the hand-painted white tin sign with crooked black lettering that was nailed above the door, slightly crooked naturally. It simply read..."Income Taxes Filled Out". To me this was hilarious! It seemed the last place someone would go to have their income taxes prepared.

What inspires you to your sketches? 

Don: Our lives are so busy. We pass by so much each day and never acknowledge 99% of it consciously. What inspires me is all the stuff that I would otherwise have missed if I hadn't been purposely looking for it. There is so much humor, irony and shear wonder in all these things. And that makes them fun to sketch and journal about. From observing nature, human endeavors and behaviors, and things we all take for granted, one can easily make their days more interesting and humorous. The simplest of things can conjure up memories or stories. And sketching them causes one to slow down and actually see them. I'm inspired by those types of things. And I'm inspired by the comments I receive from the people who visit Idle Minutes. It gives me joy to give people a little chuckle or move their emotions in a positive way with a scene I've sketched or painted.

Could you ever imagine being a full time artist? 

Don: Oh sure! I've imagined it all my life. But truthfully, I would make a terrible full time artist. Unless I could paint whatever I liked whenever I liked, I would quickly become bored with it. Making it a job makes it too structured for me. I would have to "paint for the market" as opposed to painting as a means of self expression and self therapy. Sketching what I observe in life is a real therapy for me. Trying to do it under the constraints of meeting the needs of a gallery or client base would be very difficult. So, you might say I work so I can play...and my play is all that I've mentioned above.

Which artist blogs do you like to visit? 

Don: Oh there are bunches! There are a lot of people on the Internet keeping sketch blogs. I also have some favorite watercolor artists I keep up with. I do all my work in watercolor and pen or pencil. So watercolor artists are of great interest to me. Though they don't have blogs (they are deceased), I enjoy finding online information about two of my favorite watercolor artists, John Singer Sargent and Winslow Homer. And here are a few sketch bloggers and watercolor artists I follow - Fine ArtistsLarry Cannon , Chet Reneson , Francis Golden , Brett James Smith ; Sketch Bloggers Cathy Gatland , Tommy Kane , Pete Scully , Rebecca Stahr , Laura Frankstone and Karen Sandstrom .

One pastime I enjoy is finding sketch blogs I haven't seen before. There are so many!

Don West,

Don West,

Don West,

Don West,

Don West,

Don West,

1 comment:

  1. Interesting interview. I can relate to much of what Don says about the notion of being a full time artist. Nice sketch blog, too! Easy style. Thanks for posting it.



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