The Sketch Hunter


By Sarah West

A photo captures early autumn fallen leaves. Morning rain glazes the leaf-laced stone scape. As I aim my lens towards the ground, I’m aware those around me may consider my subject mundane. I don’t linger on such thoughts. I take my pictures anyway. I won’t post them on social media. These I’ll keep, recall and eventually commemorate in paint. I’ll sketch a small image of this in my sketchbook, turn the page and sketch a few more. Compelled to contemplate this subject, I reference past memories of similar regard.
Especially sentimental about this time of year, I retreat to the mountains and studio. Paintings and drawings echo thoughts voluminous. Endless cups of coffee and biographical books of epic proportion moderate new work. Everyday there is more research. I listen to documentive, firsthand recordings of prolific artists which seem to parallel my current process and present thoughts. After printing hundreds of photographs at a time, I catalog them. I make selections, pair them with recent paintings and sketches and build storyboards.
To paint a thing well, one must know it and establish an understanding about it. Then is when the artist’s potential best work becomes evident. The sketch hunter finds promise of continuity in subjects of personal relevance. Guided by true north, one’s work is regenerative.
Sarah West serves the Opelika Observer as a contributing columnist, with written works of cultural arts relevance and prose. She is a preservation and conservation advocate, activist and visual artist of American Illustration with a focus on regional narrative painting. She is the founder of the Sarah West Gallery of Fine Art, a center for cultural arts, Smiths Station’s premier fine- arts destination. She is the appointed official artist to the city of Smiths Station, a Lee County syndicated columnist, the director of her art center’s Cultural Arts Outreach Initiative, which partners with local schools to make the arts accessible to all. She also serves a chief curator to the city of Smiths Station and City Hall Art Galleries. She is a founding member of the Smith Station Historic Commission. She is a member of the Women’s Philanthropy Board- Cary Center, Auburn University College of Human Science. She is an elected member of the Society of Illustrators- NYC. She mentors art students of every age through weekly classes at her studio located in the heart of Smiths Station. To learn more about her work and activism, visit


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