Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Go Well This Summer



Some Thoughts on Travelling with a Sketchbook










Our Planet is the oyster of the Naturalistic Painter, and now is the time that many of us are beckoned by beauty to venture forth into the wilderness to paint and draw in situ.

Wherever you decide to go, this post is a gentle reminder to be safe and to observe the rules of travelling to paint en plein air.

Remember that the coastal areas can be as treacherous as inland mountains. Deserts and moors may have sudden weather changes. Countryside paths are often open to the elements and may induce exposure over long distances in cold wet weather. Only travel alone if you are unquestionably sure you know enough about the area and have enough experience with drawing and painting in the field. Ensure that your materials are light and transportable. A heavy rucksack becomes all the more heavier when one is tired and cold. Never stay out longer than you know is good for you.

Do inform others of where and when you are venturing out.  I take a scale OS map - having learnt how to read it correctly - plus a water supply, protective gear, and good boots. It’s easy to get lost, especially at night, so I look at the times of sunrise and sunset and the time of the tides. It may be necessary to travel with a local guide.

Researching an area before visiting reminds us to respect the plant life and the wild life, as well as caring for ourselves by being aware that safety always comes first.

Above is a watercolour study painted in Iceland on a summer's night at 11pm. 

This is from my sketch book selected by the elegant Rabley Drawing Centre for their wonderful SKETCH open drawing prize exhibition in 2017.

This image can be seen on page 47 of the 2017 exhibition catalogue of the Sketch Open Drawing Prize. 


The above study was painted at one of the recognised black beaches in the south of Iceland, on the Atlantic coast.

Having ventured onto the beach with a guide, I observed one of the rogue waves of the type that have taken many an unexpected tourist who did not live to regret the experience.  The reality of this great wave is alarming and unlike anything I have previously witnessed. This kind of unexpected happening reminds us never to forget that nature, although sublime and magical, can be terrible and disturbing and has to be respected.

So, when travelling beyond, to paint and draw, please be safe and do bear in mind that knowledge is wiser than curiosity.

The website for Ramblers in the UK has a great deal to offer in terms of preparation and has a dedicated Advice page with FAQs and don’t forget the local Information Centre for the areas that you are travelling within, and towards.