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When I was getting started with some of my landscape work, I made several sketches in my sketchbook to begin the exploration process. I wanted to keep these sketches loose, without a lot of detail, so as to not get lost in the minutia of the subject. I made sketches of scenes from Martha’s Vineyard, where my mother lived at the time and I used to visit every year. I also sketched scenes from my home state of Arizona, and places in and around the Phoenix area.

Looking back at these early sketches, I’m still pleased with the looseness they have — they stay true to my goal of limiting the amount of detail in the image, setting the stage for color exploration when I would take these to a pastel or oil painting. Some of the South Mountain sketches border on abstract compositions, bringing to mind some of my abstract and color field influences.

Anyway, it’s fun for me to look back these early sketches, both as a recollection of some of the places I visited (20 years ago now!), and as a reminder to keep it loose in my current work — to not get mired in details, but rather address the larger issues of composition, color and emotion in the piece I’m working on.

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