The value of sketching

{*I found this beginning of a post in my draft folder and decided to work with it. However, in full disclosure I’m not sure I’m the author, except for the caption with “drawing 2015.” And I don’t know who the author is, but a tip of the hat to them.}

A sketch (ultimately from Greek σχέδιος – schedios, “done extempore”[1][2][3]) is a rapidly executed freehand drawing that is not usually intended as a finished work.[4] A sketch may serve a number of purposes: it might record something that the artist sees, it might record or develop an idea for later use or it might be used as a quick way of graphically demonstrating an image, idea or principle.

1.Notice or perceive (something) and register it as being significant;                                     2.Watch (someone or something) carefully and attentively;                                                       3.Take note of or detect (something) in the course of a scientific study.


Sketching is great for rapid idea generation.

Buffalo Ink019Buffalo Ink017


The key to generating many ideas is to withhold judgment of them as good or bad until your sketching session is complete.





First capture the ideas, letting them flow without worrying if they’re any good. Wait until you’re finished to judge and filter.Buffalo Ink016


  1. Explore the alternatives

Sketching offers you the freedom to explore alternative ideas. Early in a project it’s important to see a variety of different ideas so you can choose the best option. Sketching works well for this, as you can explore those varied ideas quickly.

  • Sketching is a luxury. Most people cannot draw (or at least are convinced they cannot draw). We do it because we can.


  • Sketching is a great way to use time normally wasted waiting in lines or on public transportation or even meetings or lectures.
Dandy drawing

drawing, 2015

This little sketch was the basis for 3 small ceramic sculptures. It was done rapidly on whatever paper was handy. I can’t really say why this little guy so infatuated me, but sometimes it’s like that: hundreds of other sketches have value only because of the time spent on the process, practicing, and some will be wonderful drawings in their own right. But very few will serve as inspiration for other pieces.
So what does this drawing do so well? It’s very    3-D: First of all the overlap of one leg in front of the other creates the feeling that he’s walking, ie movement. The curves at the waist line and the jaw pull you circling around to the back of the fellow, the nose covering part of the eye to our right, the 3/4 head view, the angled neck muscle and the telescoping shoulder on our left all pull the eye back and around.




In May I will be teaching a 4-session outdoor drawing class at the New Art Center in Newtonville, MA. 

Dates: 5/10/2018 – 5/31/2018 – 4 sessions.
Time: 10:00 AM – 12:30 PM
Workshop – Michael Wilson

Fill your sketch book with drawings of life as you live it! We’ll capture the likeness and spirit of a place or scene, using local architecture, landscape and people as subject matter. Enjoy the spring weather as you practice coordinating eye, hand, and mind. Critique sessions over coffee are an important (and enjoyable) feature!

View details on this and many other great classes for adults or kids here in the NAC catalog. 


{*I found this in my draft folder and decided to work with it. However, in full disclosure I’m not sure I’m the author, except for the caption with “drawing 2015.” And I don’t know who the author is, but a tip of the hat to them.}
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Loving “Loving Vincent”


On Friday night we had friends over to watch the Oscar nominated animation  “Loving Vincent”. I recommend it. A true labor of love, over 100 artists worked for several years to create an  absolutely amazing film. Before I saw the film the first time (I’ve seen it twice), I had hope, but with reservations. I didn’t think it’d be great but I was more than satisfied, I was moved nearly to tears.

Vincent Van Gogh, Portrait of Armand Roulin, November-December 1888, Arles,

Vincent van Gogh, Portrait of Doctor Gachet, 1890 // by











The film-makers Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman (both are credited as directors and writers) deserve a big thumbs up for creating a dynamic story line that is plausible in a historical context to tell the story of his life, using Vincent’s portraits and landscape paintings as the actors and scenes in the story. What a delight to see paintings I recognize drop into the film and start speaking and walking around.



Kobiela and Welchman, and all of the artists who worked on it, pulled off the painting style of Van Gogh magnificently. Van Gogh’s best work pulses with the life of the cosmos, (think Starry Night) whether he was painting trees, flowers, clouds or a face, the level of empathy was astonishing. Not merely describing movement, he absorbed what he saw when he was painting and he became an extension of it and it became a part of him.

The filmmakers did a brilliant job of taking advantage of how he painted, incorporating the movement of the paintbrush and paint into a driving force in the storyline, pulling us along. Taking a most logical next step: making those brush marks full of paint actually move, seems obvious now that they’ve done it. That they did it was such respect for Vincent and his art makes it a real, very loving tribute.

Loving Vincent can be seen on Amazon Prime. The film makes the case for Van Gogh having been shot accidentally by boys taunting him, rather than shooting himself, as the popular myth would have it. I heard that theory several years ago on a 60 Minutes interview with the authors of Van Gogh: The Life. Which I haven’t read, but, for what it’s worth I believe them.


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TC Cannon at the PEM


TC-Cannon-and-Me-2This past weekend Rosemary and I went to the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) to see the TC Cannon and the Georgia O’Keefe exhibits. I loved it and am really glad I saw it. I knew that Cannon was a contemporary of Fritz Scholder, one of my favorite painters, but I didn’t realize Scholder was his teacher. In fact it’s hard to talk about Cannon without referencing Scholder.


“Epochs in Plains History: Mother Earth, Father Sun, the Children Themselves”


They were working the same ground – their heritage as Native Americans, with all the ramifications that went that heritage. For all the aesthetics and methods they shared, as well as potent  imagery about the world of Native Americans, Cannon’s paintings seem more particular than Scholder’s. Often Scholder would paint shamans and dancers exaggeratedly, as if they were about to fly off the canvas, and indeterminate as to what the characters looked like. Cannon’s people, even as stand-ins for spirits and medicine men, are painted as real individuals, and the paintings are visually solid. The compositions anchor the paintings, and they are meant to stay right there. These are confrontational paintings; they mean to keep you in their gaze as long as possible.

It didn’t take long at the show to feel the loss of such a gifted and determined artist. It is truly unfortunate that we’ll never know where he might have gotten to in his paintings. We know he was brave, and not only for having served in Vietnam where he garnered a pile of medals. Tommy Wayne Cannon served up images that described the injustices inflicted upon Native Americans and the legacy of that cruelty that they have  lived with, as well as the self-destruction and pride of heritage.

But by the end of the exhibit the sadness was mitigated with gratitude for the work he left us with.

TC Cannon Self Portrait

oil on canvas, 72″ x 52″, 1975


The Georgia O’Keefe show was primarily about her fashion sensibilities and used some of her paintings to give the clothing context. I liked it, but can’t help but echo what I’ve heard others say: “I wish there were more paintings.”


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Open Studios 2017

Waltham Mill Artists Open Studios is November 4th & 5th this year, and for this year I will have an assistant, the young and beautiful Iryna Khomenko in my place. Yes, I will be gone but the studio will be open. This will be the second time since I moved to the Waltham studios in 1988 that I will miss Open Studios.

As I have spent most of the past year working on sculpture rather than painting, that is what you’ll see when you come. Sculptures of Don Quixote and more specifically, his horse Rocinante. For the past couple years I’ve been making these using wooden sticks, string, plaster and wire and paper to hold them all together, but lately I’ve become intrigued with building forms using just the sticks and glue, with plaster and spackle.

So come and see for yourself.

Waltham Artist Mills Open Studio, November 4th, 5th, 12-5 PM

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The show goes on @ Gallery Voyeur

The exhibit that Rosemary and I have up in Provincetown right now – “Side By Side” is the title of the show – was originally scheduled to run to Aug 31 but has now been extended through Sept 5.  If you know you’re coming, please let us know* and we’ll be sure to be there, at Gallery Voyeur, 444 Commercial Street, Provincetown.

Michael Wilson's wall at Voyeur

Michael Wilson’s wall at Voyeur (partial view)


The show looks great, as you can see. The red walls came with the gallery, and while I would never have to use that color, our work shows well against it.




Rosemary Broton Boyle in front of "Creme"

Rosemary Broton Boyle in front “Creme”

Michael in front of 444 Commercial St, Ptown

Michael in front of 444 Commercial St, Ptown









*contact us at: 617-851-7945

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We’ve got the show hung

Rosemary and I spent today hanging our show in Provincetown at 444 Commercial Street, site of the Gallery Voyeur, and we’re ready to open tomorrow, Thursday 18th at 11:00. We’ll be there through August 30, so don’t miss it. It looks Fantastic!

IMG_2278 IMG_2280 IMG_2281 IMG_2283

But today was literally just the beginning.  We both have good feeling about this adventure. Please come see the show if you can, we’d love to see you!

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Pop-up show in Provincetown

August 17 – August 31, 2016 will find yours truly and erstwhile companion                 Rosemary Broton Boyle exhibiting at the Gallery Voyeur, 444 Commercial St, Provincetown. There will be a public reception to meet the artists on Friday, August 19 beginning at 6 PM. 

This will mark the return of OZ Gallery, which the two of us ran from 2002-2007.

Each of us will be showing a variety of styles charting the past 9 years, more or less. Rosemary will be bringing abstractions ranging from large scale constructions,

Pinwheel 2

Pinwheel 2  2012  acrylic/oil on canvas 48″x 48″

summer playtime sunbathers, and many smaller, more intimate pieces.

FSA #2

I will be showing paintings and sculpture showcasing my four-year infatuation with the story and legend of Don Quixote,


Blue Byways

King Of The Blue Highway  2016 oil on canvas  24″x18″

Gallant Madman



which in turn led to my own Cubist fictional character studies,

"Dulcinea, from Don Quixote,

A Woman Of Interest     2014, 40’x 30″ acrylic on canvas

a few large Pin-up Girls,

Blonde In A Yellow Sky

Queen Of The Heartland 2010 oil on canvas 72″x 48″

and a train or two.


Future Gone 2010 acrylic on paper 30″x 22″


If you’re planning a trip to Provincetown this summer, our exhibit coincides with Carnival Week, a colorful and flamboyant time including the always entertaining Carnival Parade on Thursday afternoon August 18.

We hope you can come see the show!

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