Two Sketchbooks One Commitment

It had been years since I did any kind of regular drawing. It had been much longer since I had considered myself a full-time creative. But at the end of this past Spring, a series of mishaps that resulted in the loss of old work I had forgotten woke me up. I was upset and angry. I decided to take a hiatus from keyboards and screens.

Fortunately, we had some traveling planned. I left all my technology home. I decided to just bring a small sketchbook to carry around the entire trip. That was the only commitment I made. No concept, theme or grand visions of a perfectly executed small masterpiece of travel drawings. I actually decided to make a point of not marking a single page.

It would be an extensive exercise on observation. I had spent a few years as a street photographer looking for unique moments lasting a fraction of a second. This was similar but I paid as much attention to lines, shapes, and tone. Holding the sketchbook was like a taut string around my finger reminding me to marry observation and interpretation at every step.

The city I walked for the next ten days happened to be Barcelona. I walked through every single neighborhood of that incredibly inspiring and welcoming city. Street after street, in shops, markets, food stands, and cafes. I listened to music, learned enough Catalan to make out sandwich boards and signage. I spoke Spanish the rest of the time. We met wonderful people. Ate well and were constantly taking in all different views of this city. I observed and interpreted.

I came home and went right into experimenting with materials. Going out to coffee shops and public spaces. I took every opportunity to draw without hangups, expectations or judgment (and no erasers!)

I filled a sketchbook with all kinds of color and medium tests. I set it aside. I then picked up another sketchbook just in time for our second trip to Bogota.

Same self-directive in Bogota: Unplug, carry a sketchbook everywhere and walk every day with it in hand. This time, however, I would stop and sketch, draw. I brought a few inspiring drawing books from our local library that were incredibly helpful to keep me from suffering creative block which admittedly is hard in a brand new city.

I came home and after this second trip decided I would get back to creating. I would return to the reason I started studying art, to begin with: I love to draw.