Due to popular demand!….. My ‘non-sketching’ friend Broni has responded with a Guest Post about the travails of travelling with a sketcher. Here it is, along with some of her not-sketches.
I feel the need to respond to the quirkyartist’s blog post. Firstly, because it is a well written piece of work and secondly, because I had no idea that as a non-sketcher I would cause so much preparation! I was aware that this trip was the quirkyartist’s chance to madly sketch so was more than prepared for that and so I jumped at the chance to travel with Wendy because I knew we would laugh ourselves silly and I was in need of a good holiday. My strategy was to sit around in cafés watching Wendy sketch while I recharged my tired batteries and soaked up the ambience of my surroundings by trying the wines, cheeses and coffees of the region we were in.
I was in for a very big surprise. Wendy had shown me her little (overflowing) box of collage material in Sydney and I had also taken possession of my very own sketchbook – it is beautiful, but even bigger than the nice small one I had been gifted for our Bali trip which is sadly, mostly still bereft of pretty sketches and water colours! I immediately felt the clutches of panic but thought my strategy would still work if I filled my sketch book with pieces collected on the trip. I even thought I would still have time to write my own travel blog…
From the moment we hit the airport lounge Wendy had her sketchbook out and had completed a work of art before I had even contemplated the least complicated subject for an attempt. I devised a cunning plan. I would ensure the artist would not go hungry or thirsty so busied myself collecting delectable tastes for us both. I was very good at this and by the time our boarding call came we had tasted the entire range! So, to the plane feeling quite pleased with myself for covering up that I was not feeling very confident about filling this amazing sketchbook of mine. But of course that in itself caused another problem. How to get the book filled? I would have to form a new strategy!
My new strategy. Collect anything that looked interesting or told a story about what had happened in my day and get stuck in to that very full box of collage material and start now. Right now. On the plane. Before take-off!
I was faced with many battles. Which tools would I need to complete this mammoth task without having to go in and out of the cabin luggage the whole trip? Obvious ones were: sketchbook and pencil. But then of course I would need the coloured pencils, the ink pens and maybe even the paints. The next battle was where to put it all so that there was also enough room for the all-important glassware (for champagne of course), cutlery and plates of food that were promised to arrive shortly? Then, what to start with?
Do I draw? I did love drawing when I was at college and even passed School C Art, but I know this was helped along by my fairly good proficiency at lettering and calligraphy, but sitting and drawing something in front of me was a big challenge. I knew that the depth in a picture was all about shadows and softer lines rather than what I would be more likely to produce. Let’s not forget that I was travelling with the holder of a Fine Arts Degree which hardly compares to School C Art! Anyway, I digress from the rising panic I was again trying to push down as I was sitting in that plane before take-off, surrounded (read hemmed in and trapped) by artist’s tools and airline fare.
Two glasses of very acceptable bubbles seemed to temper the panic and I started to enjoy myself, telling myself that this couldn’t be so hard, it was after all, just a book…made by my very good friend and travelling companion who had EXPECTATIONS.
By the time we hit Bangkok, our first stop, I was well on the way to having my first two spreads completed. You see how much I learnt in that first day? I learnt that two pages opened out is a spread and that I had done that without even thinking – I had glued so much stuff in there wasn’t much space left for writing, let alone drawing or sketching. The new strategy was working quite well especially when we decided to soak the labels off the Singha Beer bottles in our bathroom basin – until the water ran out all over the floor. Plumbing not quite finished…
By the time we reached Switzerland I was happy that I was making a reasonable effort in keeping up with recording our trip. I had been given the impression that Switzerland would be the place to recover from the long flight as our hosts would really look after us and let us relax. Another big surprise! From dawn til after dusk we were on the move. Of course this provides more events that must be recorded in the sketchbook but much less time to design and attach the memories.
I was fast learning that Wendy had also packed quite a large whip and that my travel blog would have to take a back seat to filling the sketchbook. It is amazing how much time is required for putting memories on a page every day, or in my case, a spread for every day. I have just realised that if I had used a page a day it may, and only may, have been easier on time requirements, but then it would have taken longer to fill it. I did steal myself away one evening when Wendy was chatting over old memories with our hosts to record my activities for the day. It was the day we had taken the morning off so I could catch up with my business progress and get the washing done. It was an easy memory as it was of the washing machine and computer. These are things I use every day so doing it from memory was not difficult and the sketch is not very sophisticated, in fact it is downright simplistic in artistic terms. But, it is on the page!
For the rest of our trip, I did get some time to write a couple of blogs but they were a bit of a catch up from our last trip to Bali so I felt an achievement in that. I did spend time sitting in cafés watching, and marvelling, at Wendy sketching, and of course watching the rest of the world walk, bike or drive by us. That was very therapeutic in itself. I decided not to take my laptop out with me every day because the days I had taken it I found that I was never finished my blog before Wendy had completed another beautiful piece. I was interested to find out in her blog that she felt she shouldn’t spoil my trip by taking too much time sketching, but for me, this was never a concern. I did fill my sketchbook before we got to Bangkok on the return journey so had to console myself with collecting all the pieces I would have to glue in when the additional pages were added. The pages are now in and the gluing almost complete, but I have to admit I do not seem to have as much time when at home and back at the business. Or maybe it is because Wendy’s whip doesn’t quite reach…but seriously, could I really leave it unfinished after enjoying it so much? Of course not!
Wendy is right about my being prepared to have a go at almost anything, though bungee jumping is finally out! Once I put my blog behind me and concentrated on my sketchbook, I found I really liked the quiet moments it provided and the creativity it relit in my soul. ‘The Box’, the materials gratefully accepted, and Wendy’s encouragement made all the difference to my confidence as I became more and more involved in filling my amazing sketchbook. I especially like the ducks I drew floating on Lake Zürich. They are very small and look like – ducks. They remind me of a very special day we spent going by train to a place called Rapperswil on the edge of Lake Zürich, walking and lunching there before catching the ship back to Zürich. I did do a couple of other sketches (badly) but really enjoyed the feeling if I got it anywhere near close to acceptable.
Mostly though, I love going back through my sketchbook and remembering one of the greatest trips of my life. Full of…panic in keeping up with EXPECTATIONS, a lot of laughing at funny/odd moments in time and at ourselves, lots of culture, many, many markets, and the really, really good companionship of my long term friend. You can’t beat that.
Oh, I forgot to mention the terror when trying out my Italian in front of Wendy. Not only is she a teacher of art in her home town, but she is a STICKLER for getting the accent and pronunciation perfect! But that is another story…
Be sure to read the original quirkyartist post about Keeping a Sketchbook when travelling with a Non-Sketcher