It took me a while to see it.
I have fallen into a way of working in my sketchbook that feels just about right for now.
Lately I find myself asking why keep a sketchbook? My work has changed, evolved, over the past year and I sometimes wonder whether a sketchbook is still relevant to my creative process. When I painted from a representational perspective my sketchbooks served as a visual journal keeping my observational skills sharp. However, now that I am painting from a more intuitive place, where does a sketchbook fit in to my studio practice? To address these questions I took a quick tour of my more recent sketchbooks to see if I could identify what value they hold for my art making.
I set up a special project for this year's Edisto stay. With a Strathmore 500 series softcover art journal I had a plan to create a kind of resource book that I could reference throughout the year. I had no set goals for what it would include in terms of the type of images, only that I wanted to use it to collect visual impressions of that island environment.
With the goal of two page spreads per day I wanted to completely fill the book during our two week stay, which I did. I used a variety of media for this book, watercolor,watercolor pencils and crayons, graphite, grease pencil, white gouache, and a bit of ink. In places I intentionally left space to paste in small photos once we returned home.
We spent a wonderfully recharging two weeks at our beloved Edisto Island. In order to share all of the images from the trip that I would like, I will divide them into two posts. This first group features plein air watercolor paintings. For these paintings I had with me a 10 x 14 inch Arches watercolor block and a 9 x 12 Kilimanjaro watercolor sketchbook that had only a few pages left unpainted.
The painting above was done at Edisto Beach State Park. Although the campground is still closed due to last fall's hurricane damage the park itself is still a beautifully peaceful place to spend an afternoon.
This is one of the many marsh views from a small park on Jungle Road.
. . . or how my sketchbooks evolve with my art.
Last month I completed ALL of the pages in a 190 page Seawhite of Brighton sketchbook. I had not kept this sort of "studio" sketchbook in a very long time. When I discovered this sketchbook last fall it was in a way like returning home. Although I have been keeping sketchbooks forever I spent many recent years keeping visual journals, where I practiced drawing and painting from life, honing my skills.
And not unlike the way sketches in my visual journals helped me define my representational painting voice, my experiments with abstraction combined with sketchbook explorations helped integrate and define for me a process for developing an abstract visual language. This sketch above was inspiration for the painting below.
Appalachian Spring, acrylic on canvas, 18 x 24 inches
(this is one of my favorites from my Mountains Abstracted series)