Wrapping up my series of posts from my recent trip to Norfolk Island.
Part 1: Summary of my Trip
Part 2: Unplugging and having time to think
Part 3: Struggles with a new sketchbook
Part 4: Establishing a rhythm
Part 5: Trying to stick to my quota
Just a few comments to wrap up my Norfolk Island collection
It hardly needs to be said, but I had an amazing time very relaxing, and quite overwhelmed by the beauty of the island.
Although in some respects there isn’t a lot ‘to do’ on the island, I only scratched the surface in terms of things to sketch! I became completely addicted to the Kingston area and even though that was the focus of my sketching activity, there was still much more to sketch!
I found it remarkably easy to unplug and have a total break from social media, but it was much harder to stick to a limited quota of sketches per day. Taking an untested sketchbook was a huge risk, but what initially seemed like a disaster turned out to be a good challenge. Back home I probably would have given up using the sketchbook, but being on a trip meant that I persevered until I got a strategy worked. I think this was a very useful experience, and I have learnt quite a lot about my own work as a result.
I am really happy with the sketches I produced – I love them! I think the main reason why I am so attached to them is not so much the ‘quality’ of the sketch as it is the subject matter. Norfolk Island is unbelievably beautiful…I am still dreaming about it when my head hits the pillow each night!
My sketches feel different than normal, but I think the major factor is once again purely the subject matter…I rarely sketch so many beautiful scenes one after the other. I am very happy that in many of my sketches I captured the light so they feel like a real record of my time in Norfolk Island.
Whilst many of you probably prefer the landscape panoramic sketches that I did in the Pentalic sketchbook, the quick looser sketches in the Alpha book are extra special for me. These sketches were a joy to do, and most were completed in under 20 minutes – they just flowed and appeared on the page. On the other hand, I had to work a lot harder on the sketches in the Pentalic book. I am pleased with the results but for me my major goal when I sketch is always to be loose and spontaneous.
On a number of occasions I wished I had my A4 moleskine book because sketching over the spine of the alpha book was a little painful, and yet the smaller book gave me a freedom and a looseness which was really important for this trip. The ease of the Alpha book certainly helped me find my rhythm when sketching in the Pentalic book and once I was in the groove, the challenging paper (for me) was a lot more manageable.
It is interesting that most of my sketches for this trip have been complete images (filling the whole spread) rather than more open-ended compositions. I think this is a result of sketching simpler scenes and the fact that I was only adding the minimum amount of hand written notes (resting my hands!) When I am in a complex urban area I tend to do more partial sketches with lots more white space and when I have a bigger book I write more.
It is also very interesting that going back to an A5 portrait format sketchbook (something I used a lot a number of years ago) led to me with returning to a more simple ink and wash approach. I really only use my lonely pen and watercolour, without doing a lot of the crazy watercolour pencil and variable line work that I normally do these days. So it is interesting to see old style sketches with new style looseness…and oh! for the record, most of this sketches had no setup up lines, but were started with some strokes of paint first!
A few people have commented on how my sketches looked relaxed. Norfolk Island is a very relaxing place to be and there is no doubt that I was very relaxed thorugh my stay however I think that wearing a restrictive splint on my left hand all the time was probably the most significant factor in my work. Although I wasn’t rushing from one place to the next like I normally do on a sketching trip, I still had a time pressure caused by my daily quota, so I don’t feel like mentally I was approaching my sketches radically differently.
I could go on and on but these are the main thoughts roaming around in my head while I scanned edited and uploaded the sketches. Thank you so much for joining me and to anyone that has left a comment.
Now… Where should I go next?