Travel Notebook & High Speed Sketching.

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.

Travel sketch 1

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.

Travel sketch-2

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.

Travel sketches 3

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.

Travel sketches 4

Over the years pen & ink has been replaced by watercolours only, and I had forgotten the pleasure and immediate appeal of sketching in pen&ink .

Travel Sketches-5

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

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4 Comments

  1. Charles
    Posted 12 Aug 2009 at 6:22 am | Permalink

    I really do love these sketches! Very different from your usual travelling sketches, that’s for sure! I love the black pen in the sketches! I think I have always preferred more contrast in paintings than plain soft watercolours, probably why I generally like oils more. Anyway, I would love to actually one or two of your pen sketches for my wall. Actually a few of the farm would be great! Love charles

  2. Posted 12 Aug 2009 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    Yes this technique lends itself to a looser and lighter approach ! Glad you approve 🙂

  3. Posted 15 Feb 2011 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

    I loved “Travel Notebook” on DSTV and was browsing travel notebook images when i came across your blog. What a surprise to see sketches of scenery of the Springfontein district. I was born in Spf and grew up on a sheep farm, “Normandale” on the Smithfield road.

    I love your work and thanks for bringing back memories.

    • Posted 28 Feb 2011 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Beth for your comments. I am so glad that you enjoyed my landscapes and sketches of this area. The southern Freestate and Northern part of the Eastern Cape have beautiful scenery. It is good to know that you grew up here. I visited your blog and really enjoyed seeing your work and the things that interest you !!!

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