Word & God
Christian Rex van Minnen has shared some select drawings with us for our Inside the Sketchbook series. These are all created with pen while he was traveling or in his studio. Known for his neo-grotesque disjointed portraits and still lifes, Christian dazzles the viewer with his vivid and realistic Dutch-Master like painting techniques. I have asked Christian to tell us a little about sketching and his process, read more bellow. – Jane Kenoyer
Have you always kept a sketchbook?
Yeah, I’ve always been drawing. I started drawing on those little pieces of paper behind the pews in church when I was really young; I suppose that was my first sketch book. Never really stopped. I was pretty introverted as a kid and the sketchbook was always a great escape, especially when family life was in it’s more turbulent phases. The sketchbook also served me well as a first line of defense in school too- somehow it always earned me some cred to would-be aggressors, haha. Didn’t always work but saved my ass a few times.
Why is it important for you to keep a sketchbook?
It’s purpose and importance has changed over time, most significantly when I started to paint at about 15. I used to approach a drawing the way I approach paintings now, with much patience, reflection, and time spent on each. Nowadays I use sketching and drawing as something I can do with less judgment or concern. When paintings get too complicated or gain too much psychological weight I turn to drawing to sort of blow off steam. I still do ‘nice’ drawings when I travel and can’t paint.
Do you often sketch out ideas before working them into finished pieces?
Very rarely. I start paintings the way that I draw, which is usually somewhat of a violent, intuitive and spontaneous process, akin to automatic drawing, or as Dali put it, the “paranoiac-critical method.”
What brand of sketchbook do you use?
I like the large size moleskin sketchbooks because they’re somewhat easy to find, durable and the paper isn’t bright white. I like the yellowish off-white quality of the paper, similar to a toned ground in painting. Plus they make me feel like a preacher man with that little hangy down stringy thing used to mark the page. I really don’t like spiral notebooks- the flattening of the spirals makes my skin crawl.
What are some good sketching tips and habits that you can share with our readers?
Man, that’s hard to say. I think that it’s important for me to sketch like I don’t give a fuck. For the most part, I use sketching like a punching bag, when I need to relieve built-up stress that can accrue while working on complex and detailed paintings. Also, it goes without saying that sketchbooks are great to have while traveling, especially in museums. Instead of taking pictures I like to do quick sketches or a ‘parti’ of compositions that inspire me in that moment, as that impression can be fleeting when looking at a photo later on.
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