A new book about location drawing has just been launched it has been edited by Eduardo Salavisa and Gabriel Campanario of Urban Sketchers, and published by Quimera. It’s a beautiful book with loads of interesting essays on drawing. I am fortunate to have had five of my drawings included in it.
I spent a wet and windy New Year on the isles of Scilly, with plenty of walking and reading books in front of the fire. Being somewhere different is a great opportunity to have a bit of a play in a sketchbook and that was what I wanted to do on this trip. For materials I decided to stick to dry media, and avoid problems with pages not drying in the cold. I used coloured chalk pastels, white oil pastels and pencil, over paper that was pre-prepared with watercolour washes.
The feedback I have had from my recent exhibitions has highlighted the importance of the written notes I make alongside my drawings. It was these different narratives that I wanted to play with in this sketchbook project. I decided to work with found text so I bought a book from a charity shop with the intention of cutting up the text and reassembling it. The book I chose was Pole to Pole by Michael Palin. At the last minute I decided that luggage allowance wouldn’t allow me to take the whole book, so I just cut out a few pages from the front and a few pages from the back.
In the evening sat in front of the fire with a steaming cup of tea and a piece of cake, I added journal entries to my sketches. I would scan read the pages of Pole to Pole holding in mind the days events and cutting out any phrases or words which had a relevance to the kind of things I had thought or experienced. There was only one rule I could not make up words from odd letters, the words or phrases I wanted had to already exist. As well as the pages from the Michael Palin book, I cut out place names from an old Scilly’s newspaper. Using only found text creates odd associations and phrases which results in an unusual narrative.
At the Urban Sketchers Symposium Melanie Reim introduced us to her ‘book of influences’. An A4 plastic folder that she had filled with images that inspire her, and which she takes with her when she is sketching. The idea is not to copy someone else’s work, but to be encouraged to apply to our own practice, lessons that can be learned from the work of others.
I have gathered together a few of the images that I will be putting into my own book of influences; it has been an interesting exercise. While I have been choosing which pictures to include and which to leave out it has become clear that there is a massive difference between images that I admire, and those from which I would like to learn lessons.
Photography is a huge influence on my work, so it is no surprise to find so many picture by Robert Frank making it into my selection. What surprises me more is that all the photographs and illustrations I have selected are black and white.
As well as these influential images I would like to include two quotes into my ‘book of influences’:
‘What you reject…is just as important’ Robert Frank
‘If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.’ Robert Capa