Inside the Sketchbooks of Painter Robert Burridge

Robert Burridge Sketchbook 1Getting a glimpse into the sketchbook of an artist is like having access to the most sacred of documents.

How do people work through ideas, and how does their creative practice and process unfold?

During a weeklong retreat with my painting mentor, Robert Burridge, my focus fixated on the stack of sketchbooks he kept at his side during the workshop.

Robert Burridge Sketchbook 2

Burning questions about what was inside those sketchbooks, and exactly how he used them as part of his daily creative practice filled my mind…and I thought you’d be curious to know, too.

The video will probably look best if you view full screen, especially since I accidentally shot it in portrait mode on my iPad – the first time I ever used my iPad for video. Did you know that you have to shoot videos on the ipad (and iphone) in landscape orientation? I didn’t know that.

Tip: Have your own journal or sketchbook handy to jot down ideas.

Don’t miss what Bob says about Fear of the blank page…just after the seven minute mark.

This was his response to the question I asked on behalf of my students – What advice to you have for people who are afraid to even make a mark in their own sketchbook?

After our interview, I decided it would only be fair to show him the sketchbooks I brought with me, even though I felt intimidated to do so. I’ll share what he had to say, along with photos of those sketchbooks, in an upcoming post.

Bob is a prolific artist, and a generous, enthusiastic teacher. He’s happy to share everything he knows about painting, and the business of marketing and selling art.

Paint like a dog goes after a bone – is something he said during the workshop that I took to heart. Five full days of attacking the black page. Exhausting and thrilling all at once.

In addition to leading workshops and retreats in person, he has a series of DVDs and books that I have found so helpful to me as an artist…and as a creative entrepreneur. Bob and his wife Kate produce a voluminous monthly newsletter for artists…that you’ll actually want to read and probably print out and keep forever. It’s that good.

His website is here:

Oh, and he did say yes…he would love to come teach here in Oaxaca, Mexico. Won’t that be the treat of a lifetime! If  you’re on my mailing list (the sign up box is on the right in the sidebar of this page) you’ll get notice of workshops coming up. Yay!

Lisa Sonora and Robert Burridge, at painting workshop in Sedona, Arizona 2014

During the workshop, Bob kept calling me “Liz, from Zihuatanejo”, so after the workshop I said, “I’m really Lisa, from Oaxaca” – so we took this photo with my name tag on my forehead. // Now we both can remember who I am. Painting does put us in a delightfully altered state, after all.

My questions for you are: 

Do you keep a journal or sketchbook? If so, how do you use it? To document your process, experiment with ideas, work through challenges?

I’d love to hear your experience with keeping sketchbooks. And if  you have a link to somewhere I can take a peek at them, all the better! Put it in the comments.

Any books you like about keeping sketchbooks and the creative process also welcome. Thanks!

My plan is to interview and feature a bunch of artists (not just painters, but writers and others) about their sketchbooks. So please reach out and let me know who I should talk to. Thanks!

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