If you’ve read my bio, you know that I’m an artist as well as a writer, and used to work as a freelance illustrator. I’ve always found that my writing improves whenever I have art and other creative pursuits in my life.
It isn’t easy finding time for art, but a couple of years ago I started trying to do a sketch a week, inspired by artist blogs and the Urban Sketchers. The sketches didn’t have to be good, just a way to keep in practise. Taking away the pressure to do a good picture meant I could experiment and play, trying new techniques and mediums.
I took a sketchbook along with me on The Tour. The hardest part about keeping a sketching habit while travelling is that you don’t often sit still long enough to draw anything, and when you do sit down you aren’t in view of anything to draw except, perhaps, the inside of an eatery. So to begin with all I drew were the fancy cocktails I ordered just to have something interesting to draw.
But good opportunities came along – or I made them happen by choosing the table at an eatery that had a good view. In the first case, I spotted this pier and heartily agreed to fisn’n'chips on the beach so I could sketch it:
And my instincts were right about the balcony in the cafe where I drew this:
And in the old town of Warsaw, I made sure I was facing this statue at dinner, and it turned out she was very famous and significant:
During the few days we had to ourselves, I could go out looking for things to sketch. We loved these old caravans turned into food stalls along the Thames:
But the view from a hotel restaurant was too good to pass up on, too:
Another great place for sketching, is museums. Here I stopped to do a quick one at the British Museum. Paints weren’t allowed, so I took notes on the colours and filled them in later.
Magic Mirror 1 at Imaginales was a challenge because of the complex detail, so I did an ‘impressionistic’ sketch.
These glass bottles in the shapes of birds at the Romano-German Museum in Cologne were utterly charming:
I didn’t have a time or energy to sketch during the German part of the tour, but later did a simple one from memory, of the sort of views we often saw from the train:
At the Berlin Zoo I had a go at sketching the polar bears. One of the good things about sketching over photography is you can leave out annoying people who get in the way, and ‘zoom in’ when your lens isn’t powerful enough. Sketching these bears has me itching to go to Melbourne Zoo for some sketching sessions when I get home:
And maybe a museum or two. Though our museums pale in comparison to European ones, with nothing as famous as the Bust of Queen Nefertiti below, I’m sure I’ll find something interesting to draw.