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The Artist's Sketchbook: A Personal View

Charles Ritchie, artist, and former associate curator, department of modern prints and drawings, National Gallery of Art

In this lecture held on October 27, 2019, in conjunction with the month-long Sketching is Seeing program at the National Gallery of Art, Charles Ritchie presents varied approaches to collecting ideas. For example, do artists fill a sketchbook from front to back or do they open it to an empty space and begin working? Does writing accompany the drawings and how might it relate to the images? Are the drawings and/or writings employed for developing skill, or are they compost for the creation of other works, or does the book document completed works? Using his experience as a keeper of a sketchbook/journal, Ritchie explores the creative practices of some of his favorite artists including Isabel Bishop, Paul Cézanne, Eugène Delacroix, Alberto Giacometti, and Edward Hopper, among others, and he touches on formative manuscripts by Emily Dickinson, Jack Kerouac, and Wallace Stevens. The presentation concludes with a meditation on some of the forces at the core of drawing and writing: the desire to remember, the spirit of play and improvisation, and the essential ingredient―curiosity.