Recently, I went back to one of my favorite pages from my 2017 sketchbook, The Walking Hills. 

For my annual sketchbooks the set up used to be like this: I’d put together the ideas, create the work, and the print the sketchbook. Once that was done I’d go back and make paintings and prints from the new work. I’d even take sketches that were intentionally unfinished for the sketchbook and finish them, on occasion.

The last several years I’ve been so at capacity is the only way I can think to describe it, I rarely have the time to go back and take some sketches I love to finish. That’s usually fine but this one, I don’t know, this one was always one of my favorite ideas from that sketchbook. That, and a combination of finding myself wanting to move on to the next series. It’s a perfect mix for letting some sketches which are otherwise deserving of time and attention fall away.

This one, though, I’ve always come back to it. Whenever I’d open up the flat files for whatever seen and happen to see the original I’d think, I’ve got to get back to this one. That was 2017 so, yeah, it’s been a few years!

So above you can see the original, as collected in The Walking Hills sketchbook. Sometimes as I’m working on the sketchbooks I make judgments as to which pieces to finish for the collection by getting several to this stage and then seeing which one feels like the best candidate for completion in time for the sketchbook. 

That’s key, in time. I mean, wouldn’t I love to present all finished drawings? Ah, but there are two main considerations:

  • 1. I have to maintain a schedule and structure for the work or, theoretically, it could just keep going. I need an end-date and hard deadline. Picking and choosing where to put my time keeps me more or less on track.
  • 2. Over the years I’ve experimented with having more finished drawings than sketches. I’ve come to believe that what’s more useful (and educational) for the sketchbooks as I envision them is to show a good variety of sketches alongside finished drawings.

It was also of interest to me to see just what new tricks, if any, had I picked up in the intervening years. I tracked down my original photo reference and got back to work.

And the finished drawing!


From there I moved on to the final work.

Here’s one thing in particular that I found to be so satisfying with this: certain sections of this piece, I’m sure, I would’ve struggled with a couple years ago. Those were a nothing more than an interesting challenge now.

It would seem that sometimes you just need a little distance (and practice) to better execute those ideas.