I think the every day/everyday practice of sketching informs your big sketching opportunities (like sketching iconic places/travel sketching), maybe even more than the other way around. At the Urban Sketchers Symposium we talk about capturing the stories of the places we visit, but the sketches we do during an average day tell a story, too. I try to think of daily sketching like that - what am I doing today that I can capture in a quick sketch. I often sketch my coffee cup in the morning, and when I run errands I try to take a few minutes to sketch where I am. If I'm consistent, I end up with a page that describes a little bit of my day or my week. It's not exciting or exotic, but it's my life.
I'm ruminating on a trip I took to New York three years ago today. It was three days on my own, an "intense art immersion to help get my painting mojo back." I wrote in my blog about the painting slump I was having, and my goals for the trip (here, here, and here).
At the time I was working on a series of oil paintings about places and memory that I called The Memory Disease. The trip helped it along - I made small black and white paintings when I returned. But at the time I didn't know that within two months we would be initiating the process to sell our house and buy another, disrupting my art-making for months. I also didn't know that a year later I would make the decision to take a break from oil painting and abandon that series altogether.
But now, after a year and a half of working on small ink, watercolor, and gouache paintings (Story of Travel and Small Worlds), and creating a story told in images and rendered in ink (Story of a Girl), I am back at oils working on a new series I'm calling Place Shapes (for now).
I decided to look back at my sketchbook from August 2015 to see my notes about the art I was seeing. What I thought might help me in the studio then could also be helpful to me now.
,But when I looked at it I realized how much of what I saw and experienced there lives with me still, even after abandoning the series that was giving me problems, even going through different ways of working in the studio.
Jacob Lawrences' Migration Series is still a narrative without text and slightly abstracted, flattened out, graphic, with a focus on shapes, and all of that lives in the place where I keep my art knowledge. The thing I bring to the studio other than the intrinsic drive - the thinking and looking and talking and writing - has been been a focus since my dinner and talk with Paul Behnke and Robin Stout (predates that - they got me refocused). The Moroccans by Matisse is still a justification and a goal for every new thing I want to try. Sargent's balance of loose and tight, detailed and not lives in my veins. And the 8th floor terrace at the Whitney is my happy place.
A few sketches of the Clark Tower from this year. I have several more, but I need to do a lot of scanning!
My husband returned to school this summer and he's just about finished with this semester. It's been a big change around our house - more talk about papers and quizzes than we've had since 1998 when I graduated from University of Memphis. I accompanied Toby to U of M before the semester started so that he could take a CLEP test and I could sketch.
Later that day I sat with him while he got another tattoo, and for the first time I sketched his other tattoos.
Today someone reminded me that Sketchwork is about sketching! So here are some sketches.
These are from April when I lead the Saturday Sketching at the Dixon Gallery and Gardens. It was a little cold and a little rainy, but very crowded because there was a flower show going on. Which was lucky for us because we still got to sketch green stuff while staying inside!
I'm leading another Sketching Saturday next week, August 11, at 10:00 AM (here's more info). I hope you'll join me!
And here's a sketch from June - one day when I wandered over to the gardens for lunch.