Tuesday was my big driving day which I was a little anxious about... But it turned out to be perhaps the very best solo day in the trip. Certainly the best weather – stunning. A very special breakfast – my first cooked breakfast in a gorgeous private B&B with amazing hosts and lovely fellow guests. Morning tea could have been better but was nice sitting in the sun. More about Mary Jones in the detail.... (Once again - Don’t forget to see the combos in a larger size – click on photo which will take you to flickr – then hit the all sizes and look at in the original size) The afternoon was special – amazing castle that I just HAD to draw, light bulb moment realising that I can draw a plan from a signboard on location in rapid pace plus it increases my knowledge and appreciation of the place (especially if it is a ruin).
As an architect achieving this type of discovery of a place is as important as understanding all the history - unfortunately I often don’t feel like reading at the time and it is only when I get home and am in the process of putting together my photo album that I properly read up on a place and regret that I missed something special....but if I reach this architectural appreciation I am satisfied and have a suitable buzz at the time. Of course, sketching is the best way for getting that travel buzz that we all expect to experience at every sight! I am rambling – not sure if I am making sense!
The day end in style – the most stylish (and expensive) accommodation of the trip and also I had dinner with a wonderful English who actually shouted me! Wow!!!! How nice!! Thankfully I had a spare copy of my Blurb book so I was able to give them a thankyou gift! I think that I should post my first sketch of the full cooked breakfast... More cake and tea with a architectural sketch. I could do this every day!?! (stay tuned to see if I did in fact do this every day on my trip!?!?) The story of Mary Jones and how she saved up for years and then walked 25 miles for a bible was something I grew up with. I had no idea that the valley in which she lived or the route she walked was so spectacular. It was also incredibly quiet. The village church was deserted and I felt a little weird going into it on my own and then I walked from the church to the remains of my home without seeing a soul. Really quick loose and wet landscape sketch and then a more careful one at the monument – was fun to write out the Welsh as well. Special historic moment for the trip! Looking forward to re-reading the book this weekend (I read it the Sunday before I left) A quick stop at a ruined castle on the way (for a few photos... Was what I told myself) turned out to be a ‘I must sketch this’ moment. This certainly didn’t do it justice – totally spectacular! i really wished I had more time to spend sketching... every sketch in my Welsh week seemed rushed -" maybe when I get to Scotland I can slow down" I was saying to myself....
By the way this is still on the Mary Jones route – would love to come back with some friends and walk this! Cadair Idris is a majestic shaped mountain from this angle.
Monday – the start of the most adventurous part of my trip. 5 days solo travel through Wales. From leaving Cardiff Monday morning till Friday evening when I arrived at my friends place in Newcastle upon Tyne it was just me the Bear and my sketchbook. But I wasn’t ever lonely. This day, because I was sketching at dinner on my own, I had a lovely and lengthy conversation with a couple of decorators sitting at the table next to me.(see second combo)
I am not posting every page in large size – but let me know if you really think I should do a page I missed...big day today 7 spreads – so had to do 2 combo strips
BTW I seem to be typing more than I expected for each image I upload but this is good as it will form the foundation for the blurb book I am going to put together for myself of sketches and photos...sometime in the future.... (Don’t forget to see the combos in a larger size – click on photo which will take you to flickr – then hit the all sizes and look at in the original size)
My first stop was the Big Pit Coal Mine – it was free!! But to go down you had to surrender anything with a battery – I caused a mild sensation by all my stuff – camera, mobile phone number 1 (iphone), mobile phone number 2 (cheap phone with UK sim card) Tom Tom (my Sat Nav), watch, car keys... I think that was it! I did attempt to do a few quick sketches while down in the pit – I wish I had started at the beginning but sometimes it is hard to know how long the guide is going to stop at each spot and whether the best spaces are at the beginning or end. The important thing is that I did TRY to draw underground.
Sketching and painting above ground was just as challenging – it was FREEZING! (Ok... I am an Australian... It probably wasn’t that cold but the weather on the weekend in Cardiff had been nice and I was under-dressed on this occasion) I like the way this sketch reminds me of how fast I was drawing so that I could get back to the warmth of a cuppa in my car!(I took a small flask with me so I could enjoy this treat through my time in the UK!)
Ok – the first of my many sketches of morning or afternoon tea or simply of a cup of tea. Sitting down and having a cuppa and doing a sketch is really the only time that I find I relax when I am on holiday. It is an essential part of any day, since I was doing all the driving this trip, and I need some down time! The challenge is to find a nice café with a view – I got the view part this time....
Hay on Wye is the second hand book capital – I could easily spend a few days here but with only a few hours the number of bookstores is somewhat overwhelming that I decided it was just better to sketch. This is the Hay Castle Bookshop - the quirkiest bookshop and it is really quite sad to see any book treated like they are here – junky books for 50p paperback, 1GBP for hardback in the outdoors. Ok, if I am going to share my first cuppa - I better do the first dinner in large size too... I wish I could remember to ask to the business card at the beginning so I can plan it into my page...
Sunday is my day of rest from sketching – but my journal still got used for notes from the church services that I went to or things that I read and want to remember. Here is another sketch of the church I went to in Cardiff (sketch done last night) with some of my text photoshopped in the background!
Just for the record – I would hate for anyone to get the impression, from the comments on my posts yesterday, that my Cardiff friend was a chatterbox! In fact when I wasn’t sketching I did a LOT of talking myself – more than my fair share I can assure you. The point I want to make is that it is possible to sketch when you are catching up with friends - obviously someone who is going through a huge life crisis would not be the right occasion but there are opportunities for pulling the sketchbook out doing a few lines while listening to your companion talk (don’t worry about added the colour – just get a few outlines down of a simple object). I think it is the right brain vs left brain thing that enables me on occasions to be able to draw with my right brain and still listen with my left. But maybe don’t start trying to do it with a building like Cardiff Castle....(I must have been in hyper drive that day to attempt it!)
Day 2 – a day in Cardiff being shown around by my friend. The focus was more chatting than sketching...but I still managed to fill my quota by some really quick sketches. The only dedicated sketching time was sketching the church over lunch – but I wasnn’t really dedicated to concentrating too much on it! First stop was Cardiff Castle – I went inside on my own. There were lots of really over the top details that were highly sketchable but I didn’t want to be too anti-social. So quick sketches and then back to the sun. This sketch of the castle I did while talking (probably mainly listening) to my friend. Listening and sketching I can do – but talking and sketching is far harder. This was an extremely complex building. If I had actually been concentrating I might have found it too hard... The most exciting part for Borromini was having an audience with Queen Victoria. I am not quite sure what Her Majesty really thought about it all but she was exceedingly gracious and very interested in his Italian name! Just found their website here - impressive
Next lunch and the dedicated sketch time over lunch at a very nice deli. As mentioned in my journal, the owner offered free food if I sketched the deli – unfortunately we didn’t have time! Great church if you are in Cardiff - just tell the minister you were recommended to visit by Borromini Bear! Next... No hanging around today... We went to a WONDERFUL folk museum full of historical Welsh buildings. A real treat for me. I managed these two quick sketches while my friend was on the phone and added colour later. (it took me a few days before I had caught up on finishing the pages from this weekend!) Thankful being able to have such a great packed day with no jet lag – and to my lovely friends for looking after me so well!!!! By the way the little Welsh dragon got named Ynyr! (I wanted a Welsh name with ‘no’ vowels!)
A huge first day – thankfully I had no jet lag as I had two major adventures and 3 hours of driving.(this was a very ambitious thing for me to do!)
BTW the second spread which includes the photo was done today in Volume 5 – my extra volume is for doing the pages that I didn’t have time for at the time. So ‘only’ 3 double page spread for my first real day! (sarcasm in this sentence!) Straight off the plane after a 24 hour flight and pick up a car and drive for 2 hours for my first VERY EXCITING adventure. Meeting up with Gill from Journal Craft at the TOP tea place in the UK for 2009! Can you believe it? And amazingly neither of us went out of our way much to do this. To read about it happened check here. A totally amazing way to start my big trip - it was all a bit overwhelming (in a good way) and although I wasn't jet lagged I didn't feel quite myself - so I struggled to talk non stop to an amazing flickr friend, eat a sensational scone, drink a delicate cup of tea AND sketch at the same time. This is what I managed. Apart from the text and the green square I have refrained from touching the sketches. We could have talked for hours and hours but I still had a drive to Cardiff and wanted to do it before lunch in case I got really sleepy. A page I did today of the front of the Bridge Tearoom and a quote from the Tea Guild website and description from the online menu! Plus I have stuck a photo in my book. After arriving in Cardiff, chatting to my friends we then headed out to my first Welsh castle. Amazingly I was able to do this sketch standing up and half talking half listening to my friend! I wanted to do a sketch of the plan of this amazing castle... so just done one thanks to google maps and photos of signboards I took at the time. Another extra page - I am hoping that I will be able to keep up with the few extra pages I want to do as I upload each day. I am stealing my own thunder a bit but I did realise on this trip that I can so quickly and easily sketch the plans of building from sign boards on location and it adds SO MUCH to my appreciation of the building / garden / place.
Tragically I never got to do the corresponding sketch on my paint tin on the way home as I lost it. But I can tell you that my 3 favs – ultramarine, burnt sienna and raw sienna would have been almost completely finished.
Click on the image which will take you to flickr then hit the 'all sizes' and then 'original' to have a closer look (and read my crazy notes if you must...though not so interesting on a long haul flight!) – I don’t intend to post every single page as a separate image.... but here is the first spread.
I was determined to get out in the backyard for a cup of tea on the morning I left. I had to leave at 10.15 so just enough time for a quick cuppa and some winter sun and a quick page in sketchbook. It is quite amazing how every time I saw this sketch during the holiday it shouted out “Australian” to me – it really made me aware of how bright our sun is due to the strength of the shadows that I painted. Of course the high frequency of grey days during my sojourn in the UK was probably a factor too!
I know that it is the contents of these four books that some of you are hanging out for... but I need a new scanner first. They are Daler Rowney Cartridge books covered in japanese paper for protection. But in the meantime I have started volume 5 of my trip - I totally ran out of pages in the Paris book and have a few things that I still want to do so I have started a brand new book to fill with post trip / back home stuff plus there are some sketches I want to re-do and some photos that I want to sketch from - so this will keep me in the holiday mood for a while. A simple sketch while I was having my evening cuppa - still more to write on the page. BTW here is the state of my paint tins when I got home. The W&N larger one was less than a week old and look at the holes developing in my 3 fav colours!
Looks like I am now starting a mini series On Back Home sketches. This one was done on the first afternoon while sitting in the sun in the backyard and starting to fade (due to jet lag) a bit. More on the proposed Scottish tea cosy later... but here is the pot I bought for the future cosy. It didn't come with an infuser but we found one that fits perfectly and gives it a quirky look. Today I have re-loaded my new (replacement) paint tin and used it as my title page for my latest sketchbook... as I have done previously - this is the one I bought in the next block to Le Select just before we met Rick Tulka (talk about name dropping!)