Morris Louis (at left). Of course our professors were trained in this era, which meant that they were not teaching us how to do cute little watercolors. In fact I don’t recall ever having an opportunity to do any watercolors in college other than occasionally watering down some acrylic paints for some abstract painting.
Later I spent a few summers doing scientific illustration for
the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, using Leroy sets, and maddeningly frustrating Rapidograph pens that were anything but rapid. While the Oceanographic was a wonderful place filled with incredible oceanographers and marine biologists, they were all working out in the waters off of Cape Cod, while I was stuck in a second floor studio laboring over some technical graphs or illustrations for their publications.
enjoyed trying to capture the spirit of stain painting as done by Morris Louis and Helen Frankenthaler. I loved seeing their ART in museums with their huge canvases and free-flowing colors. While trying to mimic these pieces, I found that there was a great deal of technique involved and that these works were, well, work!
Since I did not have studio space to accommodate these pieces, I finally starting working outside, but I was not outside to enjoy a
glorious Arizona day – I was simply trying to control the paint splatters from doing damage inside. It took me sometime to figure out that studio work was for artists (with a capital“A”) and that doing studio ART required: (A) a studio;
(B) clients to buy your art; and (C) lots of storage for all that art that was piling up because I did not have clients.
I then learned that doing travel sketches did not require a studio, clients, or storage other than modest shelf space – and it was much more fun than laboring over a piece of studio ART that I was damn sick of after spending hours on the stupid thing.
(Left - June in Red Canyon No. 6 - 2011
by Rebecca Gaver)
So…I started doing travel sketches and learned a few things that are probably obvious to most people, but took me years to figure out:
1. Traveling is more fun when you can take some time to look around and then do a sketch.
2. If you’re travelling with others, you have to be really really quick.
3. People enjoy watching someone do a sketch and it's a great way to meet people.
4. When people watch me sketch, it is not intimidating – it energizes me.
5. Doing quick sketches in ink means that mistakes stay on the drawing, yet these errors can become
moments of celebration that I can learn from and refer back to; so that the next sketch will be done a bit differently – hopefully with new mistakes.
6. After the trip, it’s a lot easier to put the sketch book on the shelf versus getting filmed developed
(yes I do remember those days…) or editing a bunch of pictures that most people are not interested in seeing.
Of course, one of the challenges with doing travel sketches, is there is still this desire to share the images and experiences with others. I used to do computer photoshows of our travels that combined my sketches
with some of snapshots, but the time it took to put those shows together was incredibly time-consuming and reminded me of why I left the studio. So, I now have this simple web page where I can refer friends to go visit
and perhaps share some insights with others who may like ART with a capital “A”, but just want to have some fun while traveling.