To paint… to travel… to combine the two… is to celebrate life. Jack R. Brouwer
“A traveller without observation is a bird without wings.” — Moslih Eddin Saadi
When travelling the long distances across South Africa, it is advisable, as a passenger, to have an entertaining pastime. For some reading, napping or listening to the radio helps while-away the hours. For me the most appealing options are; photographing the passing landscape or sketching it, depending on whether it is a small country road or a main highway. The highway is usually smooth and therefore I choose to sketch, while the small roads are too uneven for painting, so I photograph interesting scenery as we speed past.
Occasionally we have to turn around and return for some better shots of particularly inspiring scenes. On this last trip to Johannesburg last week; we took an alternative route up and therefore found several reasons to turn around: a suburban dam beside the gold mining town of Odendaalsrus with hundreds of feeding flamingoes; a little donkey cart loaded with passengers, on the road from Klerksdorp to Ventersdorp; a colourful cottage with an old grandmother and a toddler sunning themselves on the front steps; and a gravel driveway with some lovely old trees.
On our return from this particular trip to Johannesburg to visit our son, John; I realized that I was missing some interesting scenes as we sped by at 120 kms an hour on the main freeway. Usually much of the sketch is completed from memory, when it has passed us by at high speed, but I decided to photograph the good scenes, and finish the sketch from the viewer on my camera. This has made it possible to include more detail than would be possible from memory alone.
During my college years, the combined trio of ‘pen-ink-&-wash’ was my favourite medium for quick sketches and even the constructed work, partly due to my subject of choice, Interior Design. At that time it was important to render the proposed designs into clear perspective drawings, that accompanied the architectural plans and elevations.
Over the years pen & ink has been replaced by watercolours only, and I had forgotten the pleasure and immediate appeal of sketching in pen&ink .
A recent programme on the Travel Channel (Travel Notebook) reminded me of the thrill of sketching in pen&ink. So armed with a waterproof black pen I have started with the travel sketches, and who knows, perhaps more pen&ink work in the studio will follow.
“We wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfillment.” – Hilaire Belloc
There was always more in the world than men could see, walked they ever so slowly; they will see it no better for going fast. The really precious things are thought and sight, not pace. John Ruskin