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Sketchbooks: A Manual and Recipe Book for Making Pictures

February 11, 2023 - March 11, 2023


Sketchbooks: A Manual and Recipe Book for Making Pictures

Mary Dolan


Opening Reception: Saturday, February 11 | 3-5pm


Realism is the term that best describes the drawing style I use to visually express ideas. Previously, I thought that “naturalism” was what I was going after, and that I had no interest in creating art that could idealize, comment on, or change the scene being portrayed. I thought I should be drawing exactly what was in front of me, precisely as I was seeing it. I felt that should be enough, but it wasn’t enough and I started to lose interest in my work.

Even though I am working realistically, the theme of a drawing can veer away from the reference. A change in light or a figure’s gesture can open up the story for the viewer to relate to whatever way they can. I think the way to find options for a composition begins by drawing in a sketchbook, especially drawing the same thing several times. This is actually seeing something, and then seeing it again, but differently. Recording people, places, and things in a sketchbook makes a handy reference for future work. From this information, any artist can write a poem, paint, draw, collage, or even compose music, all inspired by their own notes and drawings.

Sketching an idea in real time is fun. In a sketchbook, accidents don’t lead to failures because you have another shot at it in the studio. Memory can also play a role and elements can be adjusted to add focus to the story. A road can turn, a tree can loose its leaves. Ideas can evolve over a few pages.

The drawings in this show all started as sketches. The two portraits were done in a single session with live models. The drapery was completed in the studio, with the assistance of a photo reference. These two drawings, even though I used a photo to complete the background, still benefited from what I learned from developing ideas from a sketch. I wanted the drapery to complement the mood of the sitters. That was the focus and the reference and sketching experience helped.

Generally, all of the pieces were developed in steps, and I will not forget the steps because I have the sketchbook to guide me.

  • Mary Dolan


February 11, 2023
March 11, 2023
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