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The Artist's Sketchbook: A Personal View

October 27 at 2:00
West Building Lecture Hall
Charles Ritchie, artist, and former associate curator, department of modern prints and drawings, National Gallery of Art

In this lecture held in conjunction with the month-long Sketching is Seeing program at the National Gallery of Art, October 1–31, 2019, artist Charles Ritchie will present varied approaches to how artists collect ideas.

For example, do artists fill a sketchbook from front to back or do they open it to an empty space and begin working? Do they use the backs of pages as well as the front? Does writing accompany the drawings and how might it relate to the images? Is a chronology maintained as the artist moves through the book? Is there an overarching theme to the content? Does the artist add or remove pages? Do artists allow others to work in a sketchbook with them? How do the book’s qualities and media reinforce the artist’s presentation? Are the drawings and/or writings employed to develop skills, 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 will explore 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 will touch on formative manuscripts by Emily Dickinson, Jack Kerouac, and Wallace Stevens.

The presentation will conclude 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.  

Image: Artist Charles Ritchie photographed with the 151 sketchbook/journals he has completed since 1977.

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