Sunday, 14 October 2012

The Sketchbook Project 2012

Me with my own book. Photo: Graham White
Last year I participated in the 2012 Sketchbook Project. It took me seven months to fill my wee book before I sent it off in January this year to join thousands of other similar sketchbooks at the Brooklyn Art Library.

Then in April all these books went off on a big tour around the US and every time someone chose to look at your book you'd get an email telling you. It was quite exciting to think that my sketchbook has visited more of the United States than I have.

Now this year's Sketchbook Project tour is drawing to a close and it is currently on show at Canada Water library until next Friday.

The great thing about this is that we live quite close to Canada Water and all we had to do was take a bus to Canary Wharf and then it was one stop on the Jubilee line to Canada Water station and we were there.

They are showing all the books from Europe which meant that we could enjoy browsing through one from Norway all about trees. It was fascinating. We also spent some time looking at one that showed what it is like to travel in a hot air balloon. This was a new perspective on the world to me so this was also a chance to live vicariously through other people.

I was able to look at my own book again and reminisce and put it back in the returns box. (When I got home I had an email telling me that I had taken my own book out of the library which was slightly surreal.)

While I was working on the sketchbook I didn't like the quality of the paper in it and I found it difficult to handle. It was good for me to see how other artists had got round this issue. The trick is to use the pages as a backing for better quality paper, fabric or whatever and then rebind the book. So that's my 'note to self' if I join in this project again in 2014 - rebind it and then I'll probably have more fun.

I'm going to keep my Official Library Card from the Brooklyn Art Library and when I finally visit New York I will take some time out to browse through some more sketchbooks and see what other artists have been up to.

Friday, 5 October 2012

I do like to be beside the seaside

View of the seafront from the Brighton Centre
In the last month or so I have taken up power walking round our local park. This is the closest I've ever got to jogging which I've never seen the point of and have never been attracted to. I've been encouraged to do this in an effort to increase my cardiovascular fitness.

'Yeah, right' was my initial sceptical response to this idea but having started my 30 minute sessions four or five times a week I've found I'm really enjoying it and my fitness has improved already. Although the park stays the same the light varies continually and, this being autumn, the colours of the trees are changing daily too.

Two weeks ago I was due to attend the Liberal Democrat Party conference in Brighton, East Sussex. I was joining my colleagues from Lib Dem HQ for five days of conferring and working. Since I had established my walking regime at home I didn't want to go without my daily walk while we were at the seaside.

View of the seafront from my fourth floor window

So I'd leave the hotel before breakfast and charge along the seafront in the wind and the rain while enjoying the spray on my face from the sea. It's surprising how many other people you meet on these outings who are on bikes, running or taking the dog for a walk so what feels like a solitary experience isn't really at all.

Every day I tried to draw at least one sketch to try and capture the mood of the weather. During our five days it was blustery and frequently raining very hard. As the conference drew to a close the weather improved enormously and I had a chance to walk on the pebbly beach, inhale some sea air and attempt another sketch of the constantly shifting view before heading back to London.

Brighton seafront with the sun out