June 21, 2015
Husband and I recently returned from a trip to New Zealand of a little more than three weeks. It was an amazing experience. New Zealand is a beautiful country but I wish we could have gone in what is summer for them. Because we were there in parts of May and June it was winter. The reason for the timing of our trip was because husband, who is a university professor, was the director of a two week study abroad experience for four chemical engineering students. So we left on our trip as soon as the academic year ended.
For my birthday in April a grandson had given me a child’s set of art supplies. I had not done much sketching since I took a required photography course as a journalism student many years ago. But I remembered a long trip to Europe when I was 25. We were traveling light with backpacks and I had taken sketchbooks and pencils and decided to try to do a sketch every day. I had really enjoyed doing that and still have those sketchbooks. Why not do something like that again, I thought? I would buy a sketchbook (pages 5″ x 7″) and use the crayons, magic markers, colored pencils and watercolors grandson had given me and try to average a sketch a day.
This proved to be quite a challenge for several reasons. Much of the time I was in a group with a specific agenda so there was no time to stop and sketch. Second, it was winter and I hate cold weather. Third, I was using materials I was not used to using. But somehow I did it. I came up with the same number of sketches as days we were gone. One thing this project taught me was to be observant. When we moved to a different hotel, motel or youth hostel (they are not just for youth any more) I was always eager to look at the view out the window, which is where I did quite a few of my sketches. I also sketched from the window of a visitors’ center while waiting for the weather to change. Of course this kind of sketching is essentially plein air art so things can change quickly. I was looking down from a hotel window at two men playing tennis on a rooftop court. I went to gather my art supplies and when I came back they were gone. I was sketching a young man slouched in an airport chair asleep. Before I could finish, he woke up and walked away.
The two examples above are from my sketch book. One is of three New Zealand fruits, quince (the yellow one), fuejau (the green ones) and a mandarin orange, which I sketched in our motel room. The other is a view from the window of the Youth Hostel in Wellington. If sketching interests you and you live in the Lawrence area, be sure to see the current exhibit at the Lawrence Public Library. The sketches on exhibit are those done by a University of Kansas college student during a study abroad semester in Europe. They inspire me to buy another sketchbook and keep trying.