This is subtitled “secrets from the private sketches of over 40 master artists”, but it’s worth noting that this is an American book and these are not, on the whole, names you’re likely to have come across before in the UK.
That doesn’t however, need to be an impediment because an artist’s sketchbook can reveal more about them than a whole volume of their own writing. What are the details they concentrate on, what subjects grab their attention out in the field, how do they select the quick ideas and work them up into a finished painting? If you learn about the creative process, it doesn’t really matter who’s telling you.
The problem here is that, although the book has no fewer than two editors, it has virtually no editorial content. Each artist gets 4 pages to present their sketches and say what sketching means to them and, guess what?, it means the same to all of them and the same it would to you and me – it’s a notebook, the basis for a painting. I’d never have guessed. Without some more context: some notes on the images, points to watch, colours and then examples, or at least a description of how they were used later, I just feel as though I’m looking at the raw ingredients for a banquet. The result could be a thing of beauty as well as interest, but I have no way of telling how.
This has the feel of a good idea hastily cobbled together and leaves me wanting so much more, which is a shame.