These are three of my favourite travel sketches, all done on the spot with no tarting up afterwards. I think they were all done with a fine tip felt-tip pen, but I honestly can’t remember for sure. I keep changing my drawing media.
Our friend Viv buying matches at the bar in Les Templiers in Colieure in the south of France in 2004. The bar was half a boat, complete with figure head. Viv is so short she had to stand on tiptoe to talk to the bar man. This is the hotel the Fauves lived in early in the 20th century. The walls are lined with paintings and one of the bedrooms has originals by Matisse that he painted there
Our good friend Brian is an excellent pianist and always wanted to play the piano in a cafe in Vienna. One summer he did it, playing Tales from the Vienna Woods in the Cafe Sperl whilst my wife turned the pages for him.
A real challenge. This was one of my earliest travel sketches, in Zanzibar in 2001. We went to a “cultural evening” at the fort in Stone Town, which was in fact really very good. Dancing, drumming and food. I was trying to scribble pictures of the dancers, with a sketchbook on my knee, and them jumping around all the time. The lady in the middle was dancing towards us, banging her head from side to side as she came. The man on the left was the sergeant major, keeping time for the whole ensemble by blasting on a football whistle hanging around his neck. The drummer was beating out crescendos on a battered cooking oil drum. This scribble catches it better than any photograph.
We had a week in Cornwall 10 years ago, staying in Polruan and just wandering round the area with our old dog, who discovered that she really liked being a pub dog. For once I did a number of sketches on the ground, which are still good memories.
This view of our kitchen window shows the steep lane down to the harbour. We walked it several times each day (the dog wanted to go to the pub…)
I’ve seen this lovely ketch, the “Bessie Ellen” several times since in different ports. I hope to go on her myself one day as she is a commercial charter boat. This was the first time I saw her and judging by the speed they raised the sails, it was the first time most of this crew had seen her either.
Polruan harbour. I was outside sketching. The dog was in the pub eating crisps.
On the beach. The Cornish coastline is just spectacular. We were back in Mylor last September and are going again next July. Almost perfect sailing and the pubs are delightful. The old dog, sadly, is no longer with us to beg for crisps.
This was a sketchbook entry from some years ago. The parish church in Schladming in Steirmark. I was waiting for a train, so at outside and sketched this classic onion doomed Austrian church. The colours were all added later in the day when I got to my next hotel.
This is not a proper sketch, as it is taken from a couple of photographs I took in rajasthan. I like it because they were just a couple of scribbles I did on the back of another drawing when I was bored in a class. It was only after I had finished them that I suddenly realised that they were quite good. The last throwaway scribbles are often the best.
The foetal pose from behind has always been a favourite of mine, I don’t know why. Looking back through many pictures, I have drawn it again and again. The first one here goes back about four weeks, the others stretch back at least 10 years if not more, I have lost the dates.
I love Gustav Klint’s paintings and even more so his drawings. His last painting of Eve is one of my most loved, and I have seen it several times in Vienna, where I lived for many years as a child. I can never have her hanging on my own wall, but I have this sketch I made of her in 2004. It isn’t great, but it shows how big she is.
If I can’t have the original, I can make my own copy, which is shown next . It is in acrylic, not oil, and only about 18″ high, so no one can accuse me of faking it. I also made some effort to complete her, as sadly she was found, unfinished on an easle in Klimt’s studio after he died. It is nealy the only painting in acrylic I have done to date, and I am very fond of her. She hangs in my boat, to keep me company on dark nights.
Just to bring things down to date. This is just about the first proper travel sketch I made, eleven years ago. I have sketch books going back nearly 40 years, but they weren’t kept really as travel records. When we went to Zanzibar, I bought a very nice, thick book with watercolour paper pages. It still evokes memories although some of the entries are awful.
These two sketchbook entries were at an extraordinary Theyam festival near Tellicherry in North Kerala in December 2006. A group of dancers perform at a local temple (which are generally open air in balmy Kerala) They dance for up to three days… The one in the very top left sketch is sitting on a huge bed of roasting wood embers. His skirt is fresh bamboo strips which must give enough protection to survive. He had to be pulled off the fire by helpers as he is nearly unconscious. Some costumes are nearly 20ft high, carried on a dancers shoulders. Crashing drums, blaring shaums and bomb like fireworks going off all the time. Makes Christmas carol services seem a bit tame.
The pictures were scribbled in my sketchbook and then coloured crouching behind a wall. Atmosphere very friendly and party like..
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