My Sketchbooks Are My Priority Right Now…

Stream Side, Ken Lockwood Gorge, Highbridge, NJ - watercolor sketch

Stream Side, Ken Lockwood Gorge, Highbridge, NJ – watercolor sketch

Main Street, Oldwick, NJ, watercolor sketch

Main Street, Oldwick, NJ, watercolor sketch

Main Street, Ludlow, VT, watercolor sketch

Main Street, Ludlow, VT, watercolor sketch

Those of you that follow me on Facebook know that I sketch everyday, sometimes more than once a day. Sketching gives me a chance to practice my observation skills, build confidence in all aspects of drawing and painting, and it provides a sense of structure or foundation for future paintings. I don’t like fancy terms like creative process, so let’s just say it’s an integral part of the way I work.

Several people have suggested that I sell my sketchbooks, and that the work in them is art in its own right. That’s great to hear, but I wouldn’t ever sell them–I’d love to exhibit them at some point, but only to show that the art we create does not always have to have a commercial value in order to be worth doing. As a professional artist, that may seem strange, but I’ve found lately that I am happiest to be creating art that is purely for myself. I don’t have to feel guilty about making too many sketches–they are self-contained in my sketchbooks and easy to store. I love the idea of the sketches in them NOT being available for sale, they are not a burden to me and I can go back and look at them whenever I want, often remembering exactly what was going on the day I painted them.

I am definitely painting less formal pieces since I started this obsession with sketching in watercolor, I will only produce enough work in oil to sell in select exhibitions at the galleries that represent me and at the Salmagundi Club of NY. I like the direction I am headed in, and know it’s the right thing to do at this point. There is no pressure to get another painting done only to wonder if will sell, which gallery I should offer it through, etc. While I don’t believe that commercial success and quality are mutually exclusive, becoming a better artist is definitely my priority. I think taking a step away from the commercial side of things to focus on development is necessary from time to time. Anyone in a hurry to get gallery representation so they can start selling take note–there is nothing wrong with doing this purely for yourself. It’s hard to take a break once you’re on the professional path, always maintain a source of income separate from your painting sales that you find stimulating and creative. In my case, it’s my teaching–my workshops and classes are my way of earning a living in a creative way that does not affect my ability to stay focused and true to my goals as a painter.

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2 Responses to My Sketchbooks Are My Priority Right Now…

  1. Stephanie says:

    wonderful, I agree. I’ve just started enjoying that freedom myself.

  2. Fines aquarelles, pleines de poésie

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