Sketch Work


Jim Denomie’s paintings are instantly recognizable for their animated colors and brush work depicting social, political and historical narrative, spiritual and erotic dreamscape, and creative portraiture. Beneath those vivid paintings are ideas often first captured as sketches. This book offers a glimpse into the more private experiences of Denomie’s imaginings, travels, dreams, and losses—both personal and societal. Featuring 174 sketches made over decades, and essays by fellow artist Andrea Carlson and curator Robert Cozzolino, this volume adds another layer to the understanding of the art work and the artist himself.  

Published by Rez Rabbit Press 2020

ISBN: 978-0-578-74239-7
Hardcover, 200 pages, includes 174 images, essays by Andrea Carlson and Robert Cozzolino

9.25 x 12.25 x 1 inches, 3 lbs 6 oz


Read the review of Sketch Work in First American Art Magazine here. 


 Jim Denomie

I love to sketch. I love seeing other artists’ sketches. Children’s drawings are the absolute best, because their abstractions, inventions and raw honesty just blow me away.

I always carry a sketchbook with me wherever I go, especially when I travel. To me, drawing or sketching is a form of note taking. It is a method of recording the lucid or fragmented thoughts passing through my mind, conscious or dreaming. Sometimes I see a story, sometimes a phrase, or sometimes just a title. It’s also a camera photographing the weird landscape (my imagination) that I dare to allow myself to journey through. It is a process where I try to do some fearless exploration. But almost always, the scenes in my mind are only temporary, fleeting, unexpected images of dreams, imagination and memories. Frequent sketching allows me to capture some of those images and to discover the ones that are unseen.

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One Thing Leads to Another

Robert Cozzolino, Patrick and Aimee Butler Curator of Paintings, Minneapolis Institute of Art

What a pleasure to peer into Jim Denomie’s creative cauldron. A view into any artist’s sketchbook is a rare treat, a trust of intimacy and vulnerability. That Jim welcomes our eager eyes speaks to his deeper spirit of generosity and kindness, qualities his community has come to know. With that relationship comes the expectation that we truly see Jim and are attentive to what he has to say. He draws forth a lyrical history full of hilarious critique and riddled with deeply painful passages. Jim’s large complex narrative paintings are animated with the nuances of his lived experience and that of his ancestors. They are the powerful history paintings of our time, made with the knowledge that past and present speak to one another, talk back, argue, and ultimately strive for a future. Jim’s vision has that weight and he carries it with a sense of purpose and dignity that gives it such gravity. To explore how the past continues to haunt the present and to speak directly to how its echoing sounds color the everyday is a heavy task. Its results, in Jim’s hands, have opened eyes but have also provoked outrage. Those unwilling to admit that he speaks the truth or to do their own self-reflection find themselves further ingredients in his stew.

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The Joy and Trauma of Jim Denomie’s Sketchbooks

Andrea Carlson

In a book filled with wondrous images, I couldn’t even begin to understand what brings a person to the text-filled pages. You may have your reasons for being here, but these words will offer their readers no path to reconcile the imagery of Jim Denomie’s pagescapes. Who would even attempt such a feat? I can offer only a little substance, such as descriptions of Denomie’s visual lexicon, or the retelling of personal conversations where I’ve learned about Denomie’s process, but these amount to a personal sketch of the man whom I consider the best artist in the world.

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