I think some of my best work is done in my sketchbooks. I’m more relaxed, freer and more experimental when I use my sketchbook. But when my sketchbook is finished it gets put on the shelf and isn’t seen again except for an occasional reference. In one respect, that’s good, because a sketchbook is a personal book of ideas, traditionally a preparation for “the major work,” but there are some semi-finished observations and views which I’m quite pleased with and I’m showing some of them here.
I’ve also included some sketchier entries. I use my sketchbook for recording events, or jotting down ideas, for experimenting with styles I wouldn’t normally use, or working through technical problems, for colour testing, for recording observations of everyday life, gallery visits or objects/views in readiness for a “major work.” Just sitting in a crowded place, making quick sketches of people going about their business is a great way to keep the hand-eye co-ordination sharp. An intensely personal document, but not necessarily private, so here are a few entries.
Well, perhaps not so much a street as a row of buildings, in Keswick. I love this particular assembly of buildings. Their design, the distinctive grey/green stone and the way they sit next to each other. Perhaps I should do a finished painting of them, but, thus far, I haven't. On both occasions, they were bathed in sunshine as I sketched them from the park. The first one, in 2005, shows a green net screen indicating construction work taking place on one of them.
A relaxed break in the Lake District provides a perfect opportunity to sit and take in wonderful views and, of course, to sketch at leisure. The results don't have to be great, but to capture a little piece of a view at a particular moment is so much more satisfying than taking a photo. i feel as though I've brought a bit of the place back with me.
Of course,the sketching time is not infinite. The weather can cut short a session, as can my wife's patience. She's good for about three quarters of an hour then gets restless to move on. Suits me. I feel the same way, so my sketches concentrate on the focus of attention and the peripheral drawing is left unfinished. I rarely convert a sketch into a finished painting so there's no need to dot the i's and cross the t's.
Not a reference to the countryside so much as a description of how to sketch with limited time. I sketch the view I see before me but only paint the essentials when time is short. It captures the essence of a scene and its colour, without labouring over a full colour picture.
in this one the painting is definitely minimalist. We'd travelled on the miniature railway from Ravenglass up the Esk Valley and did not have much time before the return ride. The hill shapes were beautiful but the feature which got my attention was the sparse spread of buildings and their muted colour. So, after carefully drawing the landscape in general, i highlighted the buildings in colour (if you can call it colour.)
The rest of the sketches on this page received the same treatment for the same reasons.