Roz Stendahl of Minneapolis is an illustrator who has been teaching visual journaling since the 1980s. She founded the Minnesota State Fair Sketch Out in 2009 with artists Ken and Roberta Avidor. The event will mark its 11th year at this year’s State Fair.
My reading now seems to be a looking back at the origins of some of my lifelong passions. I’m reading a book of critical essays: “John Ruskin: Artist and Observer.” It accompanied a show of the artist’s work. Art critic and 19th-century artist, Ruskin has been important to me since age 11 when a mentor gave me a copy of his “Elements of Drawing.”
A student recently asked me who started the “modern” sketchbook movement, and without pause I explained it was Ruskin. “Elements” not only was a bestseller in his life, it put a stamp on pretty much every art-instruction book written in English to this day. I don’t often work with landscapes, yet I’ve been examining my relationship to landscape art. This has led me to a delightful exploration of Eyvind Earle, a Disney artist who designed the look of “Sleeping Beauty.” I’ve been considering the ways in which mass, value, color temperature and pattern transform landscape into a character in the narrative of a single painted image, or over the span of an animation or film. (“Awaking Beauty: The Art of Eyvind Earle,” and “Drawn to Life: 20 Golden Years of Disney Master Classes: Volumes 1 and 2: The Walt Stanchfield Lectures.”)
I don’t like spending time on the internet as work already requires so much screen time, but in the last year I started posting on Instagram at @rozstendahl. I discovered a stream of illustration posts from young illustrators. It’s exciting to see the influences of the Disney animators and others like Chuck Jones at Warner Bros., and even the Czech artist Alphonse Mucha, in their drawings, and their reactions against those influences as they formulate new ways to describe visual space in their work. The ease with which they use the digital tools they grew up with is mesmerizing. It makes me hopeful about the future of illustration across media types. I love watching the artist Loish’s video captures of her digital sketching process — watching her mind make choices (@loisvb on Instagram).
I am definitely a child of the television age. I enjoy a wide range of show types. My viewing tends to be skewed heavily on mystery shows. Not only do they present puzzles, but when done well they contain complex characters. I started in on the new season of “Endeavor,” on PBS.
I was sad to see the end of “Into the Badlands” on AMC. Every frame was so stylistically curated that it was simply watching a graphic novel on the screen.
I don’t listen to music while I work. I like hearing the street sounds, the alarms, the sirens, the birds in the trees singing.
After down time recovering from eye surgery, I’m back on the outside bike, enjoying the daily ride along Minneapolis’ beautiful parkways. There’s a pair of nesting eagles, tons of foxes, a few coyotes, and two large flocks of wild turkeys on my route. Something jaw-dropping happens every day.
Every year I take time off to sketch at the State Fair. I’m gearing up for this busman’s holiday by weighing paper, paint and pen selections. I’m setting goals for the approaches I’ll use and the experiments I’ll attempt. I am giddy thinking about all the pigeons, chickens, turkeys, sheep, goats, pigs and cows I’ll be up close and personal with in a few short weeks.