Sketchbooks didn't interest me when I began to make paintings. Instead it seemed important to look at things intensely and paint them. Drawing seemed like a wasted step. It seemed too time-consuming because time for art was at a premium. Besides, my very first training was in technical drawing, where accuracy and detail and finish are critical. So no doubt that beginning influenced my view of sketching for a long time. Drawings and sketches both had to have a fairly high degree of finish. Quick sketching went against all of my training. And most of the time I wanted to do a painting, not a finished drawing, of whatever subject was at hand. And sketching seemed decidedly inferior to actual careful drawing. Sketches seemed too incomplete, too "scribbly," to ever be useful. Encouragement from teachers to "fill your sketchbooks" fell on my deaf ears. For years, the most sketching I did was to doodle during meetings that bored me.
Gradually though, sketching has become an essential part of my work. For me, sketching is a way of visual thinking, a way of organizing things--values, shapes, movement, color, and so on. And sketchbooks are records of visual experiences too. The old advice to always carry a sketchbook and a few pencils is important. Even if you don't use them constantly, as you should, the opportunity is there. Visual memories are useful, but a tangible notation is better. And as many have said before, photos aren't as valuable. Reviewing my sketchbooks jogs my memory and sometimes sends me down interesting pathways toward unexpected paintings.
Pages from a Sketchbook