Thursday, April 26, 2007

Walk Three Hundred and Sixty-Four – Rainy High Street

I couldn’t have finished this challenge without at least one more attempt at art in the rain. Fortunately I had a plan – shelter in the doorway of the building that houses the wedding plan business, the scrap-booking business and Garry the osteopath (who should be on a retainer for the Oakley family), so only a couple of drips of rain on the page. I then walked round the bluebell wood, with the slowly fading flowers.

Alison and Penny in Australia have been wonderful one mile companions. Last night as I was blogging late into the night and visiting my blog friends, I was delighted to find this post. Hashi, although dropping out early on last year, has been part of this journey and I am so thrilled that she is going to take up the baton and ‘sketchercise’ daily for a year. I’m sure that Penny, who has another couple of months to go, will be just as pleased to hear about her new walking companion. So I hope that those of you that have been following my journey will add Hashi’s blog to those that you visit.

So for Hashi and anyone else who is thinking of embarking on this journey here are a few of the practical art-making things I have learned along the way. Before this year, I used to feel quite daunted at the prospect of attempting sketching outside, all those decisions to make about equipment, finding the right spot, knowing where on earth to start when confronted by a huge beautiful detailed landscape. But now I feel so much more assured. I think the main thing is to recognise that it isn’t a comfortable studio. You just need to go with the flow and accept that you can’t control the light, the weather or the conditions. If you’re trying to draw or paint while standing up (which is something you should be prepared to do on a regular basis) you just have to learn to love those wobbly lines. The smaller and simpler your kit, the easier it is to get out and just do it. As you know I love trying different materials, so frequently it took me several minutes to get myself out of the house while I dithered over what to take with me, so if you like using the same type of media and paper over and over it will be a lot easier. Watercolour painting (particularly if you have a small watercolour sketchbook) is surprisingly portable if you use water brushes and are prepared to be a lot less ambitious than you would be in the studio. Pencil or pen are even better. A big array of coloured pencils or pastels are pretty damn difficult to manage without sitting down, so probably only for those days when you want to devote more time to sketching and are prepared to carry a stool with you. I did buy a stool in the end but I probably only took it with me two or three times a month – when I had more time to sketch and was taking a larger sketchbook or paper block with me. My recent very useful acquisition is a fishing vest (a birthday present from Robin). It’s not exactly a great fashion statement, but all those pockets are great for pens, pencils, paints, sketchbooks.

Now the question that some of you are still itching to know the answer to – did she lose any weight? Well at the beginning I knew nothing much would happen as I wasn’t walking all that far, so after my first weigh-in I thought I’d leave it for some time before I weighed myself again. Then when I was going through my long period of feeling low, I really didn’t want to weigh myself and feel even more depressed about not losing any weight or, even worse, find I’d gained weight. And then, after the excesses of the Christmas period, I didn’t want to weigh myself. And then when I realised that my depression had lifted I really wasn’t interested in finding out what I weighed because I was so grateful to have my normal cheerfulness restored to me. And finally, yesterday, a year after the first weigh-in, I thought, ‘Hell, I might as well find out if there have been any other benefits from this one mile lark’. So I got on the scales … and … not bad … I still have a long way to go, but in the last year a stone and a half of excess weight have gone, which is great because it’s happened by stealth, and rather than having my mind filled with calories and clothes sizes, I’ve been thinking about far more interesting things. And quite honestly I am far happier about a year of getting in touch with nature, a year of learning that it’s possible to draw or paint anywhere under almost any conditions and a year of enjoying doing the kind of exercise that suits me.
290mm x 21omm pen in cartridge sketchbook


Blogger Cin said...

congrats Julie, though I have commented very little I have followed along and enjoyed your beautiful work every day, especially in the watercolors to my eyes there has been a change, a bolder and more confident line and use of color, an inspiration to see, a grand experiment, many thanks!

3:33 am  
Blogger Penny said...

Lovely linre of the village street. Iam so glad Hashi is going to walk with me for a while, another neighbourhood to explore, goody
I find that pen and small spiral bound sketchbook is easier for me to manage, usually colouring in when I get home but i do now have a nice little portable watercolour box that I take too.Cant vascillate too much or the dogs have got disgusted and gone without me.

9:34 am  
Blogger Alison said...

Such an English street - I don't think I could find one in Australia that would look like this. Most of our terraces have at least a small upstair balcoy and a downstair verandah. Your weight loss was interesting - I too lost the first 20 pounds without special effort, but the second 20 required more oomph and attention to portion size - not calories. I thought the point of a tandem was so you could sit back and sketch while Robin pedals - that would make a nice image for Art of Moving :)

1:08 pm  
Anonymous shirley said...

CONGRATULATIONS! Your year in sketches has been very interesting to follow - although sometimes in big chunks when my time became really limited. All of you illustration seems a natural for putting together as a single book. I think that Katherine Tyrrell blogged about the 1000 Miles to Rome sketchbook that fascinated me. And he did it on a bike if I remember correctly - and in his "senior years."

4:00 pm  
Blogger Katherine said...

Consider yourself blogged - see my blog One Mile From Home finishes today

I'm looking forward to the last one - and at least the weather should have been kind to you

This one's a real little stunner!

5:49 pm  
Blogger Lindsay said...

I've loved seeing where you 've gone and what you've sketched. I'm looking forward to seeing your next project!!

I love your work

And I wanted to share with you that Years ago, Iused to obsessively weigh myself every day and made myself miserable. Now I go by how my clothing fits and haven't weighed msyelf in YEARS. Much nicer way to be with myself. And I lvoe you you lost without looking.
Great Project.

11:15 pm  

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