These sketches are from my illustrated journal is a recent trip to the Burgundy region of France. There are many hundreds of Romanesque churches, built between the 10th and 12th centuries. Before then, the area had been occupied and ruled over by Romans. Then they were gone but their architecture and design influence remained and were powerful influences in the creation of these churches. It was a time of crusades and pilgrimages, both of which brought travelers into tiny villages needing accommodation, food, and other practical provisions: these churches attracted these pilgrims and profited from their donations, as did the towns around them.
Hilaire Belloc, writing about his pilgrimage from France to Rome wrote of such places that: “In such shrines Mass is to be said but rarely, sometimes but once a year in a special commemoration. The rest of the time they stand empty, and some of the older or simpler, one might take for ruins. They mark everywhere some strong emotion of supplication, thanks, or reverence, and they anchor these wild places to their own past, making up in memories what they lack in multitudinous life.”
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There is almost nothing in the world I love doing more than drawing in churches. For me, keeping an illustrated journal is not about being the best at drawing or painting – I can’t hope to do anything like that. It is about creating a page that is part visual memory, part field guide. And by drawing in a church, or cloister, or crypt, I feel that I am capturing part of its soul as surely as primitive people believed that a photograph did the same to them.
Skomer is an island off the coast of Wales which serves as a wildlife refuge with millions of pairs of breeding birds. An overnight stay is often cold, wet, and indescribably satisfying.
To read more posts about my visits to Skomer, go to:
A mess of illustrated journal pages mainly from the last third of 2015. I got behind! That is the dilemma with sketchbook journals: if you are doing it right you don’t have time for eating what you’re drawing, let alone posting it.
We recently spent two weeks in north-central France, in a town called Montargis, with Gab’s old friend Jean-Pierre. These are pages from my illustrated journal that I did while there.
The first, best piece of advice I ever received about keeping an illustrated or sketchbook journal was to always, always travel with your supplies and be prepared. I take mine everywhere: walks, restaurants, museums, doctor’s offices, even church – a great place for meditative drawing. If you carry what you need with you along with your sketchbook, you will always be ready to draw at a moment’s notice, no excuses and more importantly, be ready to use small amounts of time where you might ordinarily be staring into space (traffic jams, airplanes, etc.)
If you have never kept a portable studio like this before, don’t worry. Everyone is going to work with different materials to suit their own style and needs, and you may not know what these are until you have tried it for awhile. Also, buying all new supplies can be expensive, although it is perfectly possible to keep a visual diary with little more than a good pen and a glue stick. Just get what you can and add to it when you can. For instance, I couldn’t really afford a whole set of good water color crayons in one go, so I buy one or two whenever [read more]
We spent a week in Budapest. I figure I averaged a little over a page a day which doesn’t sound too great, except that is the eternal visual journal work dilemma: do you sit still and draw or move on and explore new things? Do you create an image of your authentic Hungarian meal, or do you eat it while it is still hot? I am getting better at putting in rough lines and filling them in while waiting forever in airports and train stations. The journey – all of the journeys – continue.