WHY I TAKE MY SKETCHBOOK WHEN EXPLORING AUSTRALIA
I have always enjoyed drawing and sketching and have a been an avid camper and outdoorsman since my late teens, but until recently I never thought to join the two. It wasn’t until my recent trip to Jervis Bay that an artist friend of mine recommended I take a sketchbook. She said it would give me a different perspective of the places I visited and a sketch would capture a memory far better than a camera could.
I was initially sceptical and reluctant to spend my time outside drawing when I could be fishing and bashing the trails, but I thought I would give it a go. I first put pen to paper in Huskisson and passed the afternoon trying to capture the town’s charm. Of course, I was disappointed with the result and thought I had butchered the sketch, but in sitting and taking in the scene around me, the whole way I interacted with my surroundings changed.
I noticed things that I would usually miss when taking a photo or merely looking at a view. When I was painting the boats bobbing in the harbour, I noticed the paintwork peeling away to expose hidden previous paint jobs. I saw slight dents in the boats and repair work carried out after past mishaps. I saw the whole scene from a different perspective and I tried to capture it as best I could.
I felt that by taking a bit more time observing and drawing I was interacting more with the subject. I drew the white sand beach of Hyams Beach, and where I usually feel like I’m skimming across the surface of a place when I rock up, snap my pictures and leave, drawing it made me feel like I got to know it that much better.
I didn’t just feel a heightened sense of perception at the time. Afterwards, when I returned home, I flicked back through my sketchbook. By looking at what I was drawn, I was able to return to the exact state of mind I was in when I made the sketch. I noticed the same things in the sketch that I noticed in the surroundings, and a far stronger feeling of nostalgia came over me.
I would highly recommend trying it out to anyone who enjoys drawing and exploring the sights and sounds of Australia. The end result isn’t what’s important. I wasn’t pleased with what I produced. I probably won’t show it to anyone and no matter how hard I tried, the perspective on the hull of the boats still looks skewed to my eyes. But more for the process of connecting a little deeper with a place you visited and for the vivid memories.
I am looking forward to my next trip when I can fill the pages of the sketchbook with visual manifestations of my observations and emotions in a way that a simple photo album simply can’t. Try it yourself and see what you think.
Do you sketch when on holiday? We want to hear about it. Share your thoughts through the comments section below.