I’ve been starting to broaden the focus of my sketchbooks. I am still sketching my surroundings and trying to get better at that. That’s number one. But now I am getting back to including other ideas and notes, as well as tickets, notices and print excerpts. I’ve had a journal of sorts since I was 12 when my father made me a varnished wooden box with a lock on it and a C in gothic script painted on the top. And now I want to get back to keeping more of a record. When I looked at one of my first sketchbooks from 2009 I saw the richness of including ideas and excerpts, something that has been missing in my recent books where I concentrate solely on sketching. In fact, the idea for my next rug came from some notes and a poem excerpt in that 2009 journal. So I am getting over my notion that I’m ‘wasting’ watercolour paper by writing on it and including extras on my pages.
There is a good article in today’s Globe and Mail about travel sketching by David Gillet, The pencil is mightier than the flash. I found it reassuring to hear: “It’s not about great art or skill. Drawing is something everyone can do. I don’t use an eraser or straight edge when I sketch: misplaced lines, doodles, quirky shapes are all part of it.” And again…”The physicality of putting pen to paper…There is a visceral muscle-and-nerve connection to the scene in front of you when your mind observes a shape and tells your hand how to bring it to the blank page….To sketch a scene challenges our notions of what really matters as we move through a new city or react to the beauty of a great windswept plain.”
The weather was a bit more spring-like this week and my friend Anne was here for a visit. We headed out two of the days to find something in the area to sketch. Our first day was in Wellington on the shores of Lake Ontario. This is the tiny Anglican Church on the main street. My angles are wonky, especially around the front door, but I just went with it, hoping to right it a bit with the paint.
Day two was threatening rain, so we sat in the arches across from the City Hall, dodged the rain drops and quickly sketched a wing of that great building. The sketch takes up a small section of the page in my sketchbook but when I look at it, I remember the conversation and the weather and the discoveries I made about a building I’ve been looking at for 30 years.
So many reasons to sketch and record.