Travel sketching: going old school

Posted on 27 August 2012

I remember waiting in anticipation for my holiday pictures to be developed. In the small town where I grew up, the local photo store always took a few days for printing. By the time I got to see them, I had forgotten about some of the exciting places I had visited at the beginning of my holiday. The thrill of going through them and re-living the trip was like extending the journey.

Today, we are able to check our pictures as soon as we’ve taken them. We can delete the ones in which we don’t look flattering, and then upload the nice ones on Facebook to share with our friends and family immediately.

By the time you get back from your holiday, you’ve seen the pictures, everyone around you has seen the pictures, and after saving them on your computer there really doesn’t seem to be a reason to print them. Photo albums? Who has time for that? Even though the intention is often there, most of us end up with our entire (external) hard drive filled with photos that we will probably never look at again. What a pity.

Travel sketching

The popularity of travel sketching recently caught my eye. Christoph Niemann’s 72 hours in Venice is entertaining and spot on in capturing the so often romanticized ‘city on water’. While Niemann makes his sketches with pencil keeping them black and white, other travel artists opt for water colour drawings.

My personal favourite travel journal is that of local artist Ela Van Coillie. Even though she currently lives in Belgium, Ela was born in our own Port Elizabeth. Daughter of the famous artist André van Coillie, Ela has really stepped in her father’s footsteps as she is currently studying fine art and creating some real masterpieces in the form of paintings, sculptures and sketches.

Her travel sketches document her visit to South Africa earlier this year. As a resident of Port Elizabeth, I recognize some of the places she sketched which makes it even more fun to see them through her eyes.

The Urban Sketchers have members all around the world, who sketch their home towns and quaint places in their area to then share with the world online.

Looking at all these original travel sketches makes me wonder…

Why take photos, put together an album, or write in a diary, when you can draw?

Then again, I can’t draw.

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