The end of the sketchbook


In the last few years, I’ve done something regularly that I hadn’t in the previous years. I’ve started to complete full sketchbooks, with some kind of art on every page.

I’ve noticed that it’s a good time to go back and look through it, to see how things went over time. In this case, this sketchbook was started in June of 2010, and the last image was sketched in it today. Over that time it’s seen all kinds of sketches, from loose practice ideas, to sketches for published projects, and plenty of goofy items.

It’s also great timing overall, as summer is over and my big plans are all about to start. It’s going to be an interesting few months, hopefully time that will change everything, so it’s interesting that the sketchbook happens to be ending now.

If it wasn’t such a chaotic book, you could say that it was a snapshot of my life in the last year. Certainly there is some sense of that, as there are sketches for some of the projects I’ve worked on for publishers in it (Maelstrom/Thunderstorm, Dark Regions, Cemetery Dance, and so on).

But I don’t think it exactly works like that. There are stretches where I would hit it daily, sure. Other times there are gaps of weeks, even months. So it’s hard to see it as a snapshot, but maybe more as a curious artifact in the life of the artist.

I’ve decided to choose some of the more interesting sketches in the book, and offer them for your perusal below. First up, some of the cartoonish and even goofy images that pop up in there. I try to have fun with it sometimes, and, being kind of a sarcastic person, sketching offers me a nice outlet.

Being a horror artist, I also often sketch the darker ideas that come up. Sometimes there’s still the humorous edge to them, other times it’s just something I want to get out of my head and onto paper.

The skull with the bullet hole in the forehead actually leads quite nicely into the next set of sketches. It’s the practice sketch/idea for one of the skulls in my acrylic painting The Apotheosis of War. The sketchpad is a great place to do rough sketches of full paintings, and these below are sketches for some of the projects that have been or will be published.

Can you guess what any of them are from?


One of my projects is, always, to learn to be a better artist. Along with reading many, many books on art techniques and about other artists, I picked up the idea (from comic artist David Finch) to sketch from books to get some practice in. To that end, I’ve been eyeing the images from George Bridgman’s Complete Guide to Drawing From Life, and I’m soon to start on Andrew Loomis’ Figure Drawing For All It’s Worth.

This set below is all from Bridgman. Basically, I open up the book, look at the images, and try to redraw them in my sketchpad. No tracing allowed, but interpretation. Along with that, I also try to draw from life, and simply never stop learning.

Last but not least, if I think of it ahead of time I like to end the sketchbook on a single image. I always try to start the sketchbooks with a full page image, and I’ve decided that, if I can, I want to end them that way too.

Here’s the final shot, something fun for my daughter:


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