Ideas for my paintings come from many sources; some paintings come directly from things I see, and others come completely from my imagination. But, most of my paintings start with a vague idea, theme, or subject, and then I have to develop the composition. My sketch book is where the composition details are mapped out, where different color schemes are tested, and better ideas emerge. In my journal, I often draw several quick versions of a painting to try to get the overall balance and flow. The sketches are a rehearsal for my eyes, brain, and hands, but even with all the planning often the finished painting is different than I anticipate.
My doodle book is an important tool for me, not only because it is where most of my painting ideas are developed, but because it is a place of freedom. I can make as many mistakes as I need; it doesn't really matter if an idea is bad or that it didn't work out the way I intended. My doodles cover just about every subject: cutesy animals doing human activities, abstract circles, anatomical sketches of skeletons and muscles, completely imaginary creatures, and everything in between. Many of my sketches are very messy and quick, while others are as precise as possible with detailed shading. My sketches train my hand and eyes, and teach me to interpret what I see. I believe drawing helps my imagination continue to play and be fresh. I read that part of being creative is giving yourself time to be creative; a doodle book with no pressure is an outlet for creativity. A drawing book is made of many pages waiting to be filled with good, bad, pretty, ugly, simple, and complex ideas.