Los Angeles-based artist Andrew Hem (featured on the cover of HF Vol. 21) paints scenes filled with kaleidoscopic colors that convey a sense of fluid motion. His work feels like snapshots of his youthful characters’ adventures. While he paints murals and dabbles in commercial illustration, Hem’s primary focus has been on his personal studio practice in recent years. We featured his last solo show, “Dream But Don’t Sleep” at Merry Karnowsky Gallery, here on the blog earlier this year. Today, we take a look Hem’s process with a peek inside his sketchbook and an exclusive interview.
Have you always kept a sketchbook?
Yes. I’ve had a sketchbook since I was 12. Back in the day we would call it a piece book. For graffiti guys it was a way to practice and get other graffiti artists to piece inside it.
Why do you think it’s important to keep a sketchbook?
I think it’s always nice to document ideas and observation sketches. I think the observation sketch is becoming a dead form. I still have friends who wouldn’t leave their house without a sketchbook, but its becoming a rare breed.
Let’s talk about your sketching habits. How regularly do you draw in your sketchbook?
Now a days my sketchbook is filled with writings. The only time I really take time to do my sketchbook is when I travel. I use my sketchbook to document my experiences and places of visit. Most people have photo albums of where they’ve visit that helps them remember their travels. My goal is paint every country that I’ve been too and document it in my sketchbook.
Do you sketch with the goal of creating a finished piece? How often do you draw for fun?
I don’t really sketch to make a finished piece. It’s mostly 20-40 minute sketches. As long as the values read then I’m happy with the outcome. Every time I paint from observation, it’s fun. I would paint outside in the rain and it wouldn’t bother me. There are artists who focus entirely on painting in the studio and I feel like their work is lacking when they try to paint from observation. And there are artists who paints nothing but observation and when they go to their studio the painting ends up missing something creative. My goal has always been to be good at both fields.
What type of sketchbook and sketching materials do you like to use?
I like to use gouache for my sketchbook.
Do you have any tips or insights for our readers who are aspiring artists?
The only tip I would suggest is to work hard. Everything always comes down to mileage.