Nancy Marstaller

I have many art journals, mostly a mix of travel records and sketches, poetry, collage, responses to what someone said, or some event in the world. I like to carry a small one with me when we hike or travel. In my studio, I use journals as places to relax and play. One art group I am part of does round-robin journals, and that is great fun to see how we each create.

Marstaller 1 Sanderlings

Nancy Marstaller, Sanderlings, print, collage, paint, 6 x 8 1⁄2 in., 2023.

Marstaller 2 AnniversaySunset

Nancy Marstaller, Anniversary Sunset, colored pencil, 5 x 8 1⁄2 in., 2022.

Marstaller 4 cardinal

Nancy Marstaller, Cardinal, acrylic painting and collage, 7 x 14 in., 2023.


Brita Holmquist

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Brita Holmquist, Untitled, pen and ink on paper.

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Brita Holmquist, Untitled, pen and ink on paper.










Before there were cameras, before there were cell phones, there were sketchbooks. And we learned a lot more from drawing and studying and figuring out what our drawings were saying. I can’t imagine that anyone would find it more satisfying to snap a shot on their cell phone than to sit quietly and draw what they are looking at . . . or to consider what idea or project they are thinking about without a visual. I have used my sketchbooks for memories, for visions, for simple thoughts. I have drawn interesting objects in museums and flowers in gardens. I have drawn architectural designs in the middle of the night. I have always taken sketchbooks on trips. When I look at them years later, I can remember the moment, the place, the smell, the sound.

Much of what is in my sketchbooks is my family doing other things while I sit in the corner and observe. If I am drawing, I don’t feel indolent—I’m working!

“Sketch” is a somewhat derogatory word for the drawings that one does in one’s notebook. A sketch is just a quick idea of something, whereas many of the sketchbooks I have seen are filled with intricate delightful drawings of people and objects and buildings that my friends have seen. I only wish everyone would carry a small book in their back pocket with a nice pen so they could record their life as they go along.


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Brita Holmquist, Untitled, pen and ink on paper.

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Brita Holmquist, Untitled, pen and ink on paper.

Liz Moberg

Moberg 2 Marshriver

Liz Moberg, Marsh River, ink on paper, 5 x 9.5 in.

My sketchbooks are my version of extemporaneous speech. They’re where I keep visual running commentaries of my movements and surroundings. A relief from my habitual plan and organized mode, sketchbook world is scattered and free of preconceptions, where I ignore mistakes and just keep going.

Though representational at the core, my drawn images are not literal or particularly faithful. They evolve after much scrutiny as to what’s worth including, or what might obscure the essential gestures or narratives. My sketchbook pace is very quick, and over decades these important decisions have become spontaneous and intuitive. I may call my sketchbook strategy “loose” or “fast” but that doesn’t do it justice. The best pages come from a state of unselfconsciousness that is joyful and restorative. My sketchbooks are an intuition workout that I’m convinced contributes to the sense of immediacy that I strive for in more complex pieces.


Moberg 1 Bologna

Liz Moberg, Bologna, art markers on paper, 5 x 3.5 in.

Moberg 3 Moonrise

Liz Moberg, Moonrise, ink, gouache, colored pencil on paper, 6.5 x 5 in.

Moberg 4 Steep

Liz Moberg, Steep, art markers on paper, 8 x 5.5 in.


Image at top: Nancy Marstaller, Moon Women, drawing and collage, 7 x 14 in., 2023.