Ken O’Connell: Sketchbooks and La Romita

October 23rd, 2012
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[Editor’s Note: Kenneth O’Connell has taught at La Romita four times in the last 8 years, and this year led the workshop Sketchbooks in Italy in early September.  He is a Professor Emeritus from the University of Oregon, and is also President Emeritus of Imagination International, Inc. which imports Copic Markers into the USA. He is working in Sketchbook number 74.]

Italy is a wonderful country to visit and La Romita a very special place to be. The combination of housing, amazing meals, quiet studio, beautiful garden and Olive grove make it a perfect base from which to work and explore the hill towns of Umbria.

My focus is the sketchbook and all that it can include from notes, tiny sketches, large fragments and full sized paintings. Text and stamps and glued in labels from food or bags add to the richness of the pages as they develop each day. The sketchbook can be all of these or a combination of sketches, notes, fragments, journal, scrapbook, diary, reference lists, thoughts and impressions.  Some pages may take several days to complete as different elements are added.

Sketching and working with color to explore ways to react to each new town and each new experience is the challenge. We must be open to trying to draw darker, or leave more white space or fill it in with words and thoughts, or add more yellow and warm up the scene. Each person is on an individual journey through their sketchbook. It reflects their own growth and their own observations, as you can see from these sketchbook entries created at La Romita this year by Debbie Olson, Tyra Gilb, Judy Walters, and Penelope Youngfeather.