I have mixed thoughts this year as I feel that it was less of a ‘serious sketching trip’ and more of a work trip – teaching, blogging, filming and producing new work for SketchingNow Buildings. Often my trips are a chance for me to spend time developing new ideas but this trip was a big experiment to see how I would go being away for an extended period, how I would find blogging enroute and and how teaching in a foreign country would affect my travelling. In summary the experiment was highly successful but it was a bit more tiring than usual and 8 weeks was probably a little too long.
So here is a big download of all my thoughts on my immediate return home:
- It was so wonderful to be able to teach in Lucca with such a great group of sketchers from 10 different countries. This is something I want to do more of – to be able to turn up and teach a 2-3 day workshop anywhere in the world so that I get to meet more of my readers. If you missed it reports of the Lucca workshop are here and here.
- Teaching when travelling is very exciting but tiring. Note to self: make sure you allocate a few ‘down days’ afterwards to rest. (Ha! rest? what is that?)
- I never have enough time in the UK to see all the sights I want to see and visit all my friends. But oh! it was so special to spend lots of time with my sister and family in July.
- I still find it hard to believe I visited all those Palladian buildings and can’t wait for the Palladian Odssey workshops next year. Find out more here.
- I thought it was pretty exciting filming on location for SketchingNow Buildings when I was in Italy, and it was. But the footage looks 10x more exciting now that I am home.
- Going on a sketching trip before the Urban Sketchers Symposium was great as I arrived ‘in the groove’ rather than jet-lagged. However 1. I still needed the time to get a feel of the place and get the right watercolour mixes for the local materials. 2. arriving to a symposium somewhat travel weary is not a good idea! Another note to self: Travel beforehand is good, but not 5 non-stop crazy weeks.
- I only had 3 or 4 days totally on my own during the 8 weeks. I do find solo travel with my sketchbook incredibly energizing – even though I push myself like I did on my Castle Howard day! Being around people more and maintaining the amount of sketching I normally do is a big challenge.
- I really loved blogging at the time. It might have taken a few hours in the evening but I was motivated and inspired to do it while everything was fresh. The best part of all is the fact that I don’t have that horrible burden of scanning and posting ASAP now that I am home. I will scan my sketches but I won’t be doing any more blogging about my trip. I will be sharing scanned versions of some of my finished pieces first with those that sign up for SketchingNow Buildings (note registration is opening next week).
- My estimate of how much paint, ink and how many sketchbooks I would need was pretty accurate. In fact, I used less paint than expected and only used 1/3 of my sixth sketchbook – I was worried that I would need a 7th book.
- The only thing I ran out of was Potters Pink but as that is easily purchased in the UK I don’t think I would have taken a spare pre-made pan anyway.
- I didn’t use my extra fountain pens with coloured ink as much as I thought I would but apart from them, everything I had in my kit was used extensively.
- The only brush I used all trip (except when I was actively testing a new brush) was my dagger.
- I didn’t think I would buy any (much) new art supplies, but I came home with more than I expected. Will be sketching the collection soon.
- Also, I will be making a change to my palette as I have a new grey that I want to have pre-mixed. More soon!
Travel Sketching and Sketchbooks
- I am really pleased that I was able to mix it up more this year with my sketches – less full-page sketches and more journal style pages. Thought: these smaller sketches might be a reason why I used less pages this trip!
- I really loved my new way of starting a day and my stamped date headings! More about this here.
- I sketched way less food this trip. I think this is a result of how much I was with people this year and my A4 sketchbook is very awkward to use at a crowded cafe table.
- For the record I had much less tea and cake this trip! No fancy teacup sketch at all and unlike many other sketchers I did not do a high tea in Manchester. I really don’t enjoy high tea – just give me a scone or two (or a slice of lemon cake) and I have more than enough.
- I found myself doing a lot of sketches standing up and my board is the best! Thanks Marc for the idea – more here.
- These days when I have a complex street scene I am just wanting to do a line drawing.
- Despite it being a much more social trip I managed to stay on top of my notes and maps in my book. Only had one map and a few notes to add to my books on my arrival home. This is a major achievement.
Ideas from this trip to develop
- How to say more with less – I have been trying to do this for years, but after Fred Lynch’s workshop, hanging out with Richard Briggs and seeing some of Suhita’s quick Rome sketches, I have some more ideas to explore.
- Sketch more landscapes and trees – this is prompted by my journeys in Scotland and the wonderful activity by Robyn Bauer called the Body Language of Trees.
- More mixed media – using coloured lines opens up lots of new possibilities.
- Continue taking more risks even when using a big fancy sketchbook. I saw a number of inspiring small sketchbooks (eg. Angela from Melbourne) filled with quick sketches that were done on occasions where I wouldn’t bother opening my big book up. I went and bought a smaller book for my pocket on the last day in Manchester and hardly used it but the thought of it being there somehow prompted me to open up my big book and do a quickie.
- And finally… the challenge is to continue with an exploratory mindset in my daily grind!
Ok, I think that’s a wrap!
So, I am interested in hearing from you… do any of these points surprise you?