“My European Ritual” is an article featuring work by 9 writers that talk about returning to the same place while traveling. The sense of familiarity that emerges from revisiting a place is something everyone can relate to. Everyone has places they frequent over time based on their life’s design. Sometimes these are little things, some are significant, but they are what make up our lives.
I am often asked if Sketchy Tours always goes to the same place every year. True, to date we have always returned to the Dordogne region of France, the heart of which is about an hour and a half east from the Bordeaux airport. From it’s geographical history through the cultural history of the Perigord, this region is a source of inspiration to me.
The Dordogne and Aquitaine region has sustained life since the ice age allowed access to the shoreline and river valleys. Great parts of this history have been chronicled and remain critical points of reference for civilization. From caves to contemporary art, there is evidence of this entire time line where ever you go. To witness this connection with time, and sketch the evidence, provides a profound connection to humanity and an integrated sense of all life on earth. The current inhabitants are not free from worry, but you could say that France itself is the definition of a sustainable culture. All you have to do is look at regional cuisine to realize this is the case. Local recipes are constructed from local foods. There is no “food off a truck” which often defines cuisine in the United States. I return home from the Dordogne feeling healthier than when I left. I never tire of that feeling. That’s why I return.
Sketching has been used for documentation of travel for as long as travel has been possible. It was during the tradition of Grand Tours that the art of sketching developed into a method of recording personal experience and story telling. Filling a sketchbook with scribbles and masterpieces from your own observations is the best souvenir Sketchy Tours can hope to send you home with.
Mastering Sketching by Judy Martin present an inspiring survey of sketching and color techniques for the Sketchy Tours integration of travel and art. It can be used as a series of straight forward lesson plan activities, but it is best used as a way to see into a wide range of approaches that can be easily incorporated into travel. A novice will enjoy the examples and descriptions for the use of materials and variety of styles to choose from and an experienced artist will enjoy the clear language used to communicate processes and effects. It's a great reference book to learn new ways to achieve artistic effects or confirm your ideas to combine elements for capturing a view, a structure, or a figure.
Some people like to explore art on their own, some like a published inventory of proven procedures, and most of us like a combination of things to incorporate into our inspiration. Mastering Sketching is filled with appealing examples and quality information to use before your trip or while you're traveling. Mastering Sketching is a highly recommended tool for any sketch artist.
Why wouldn't you want to go to France? History, art, food, wine, what else is there?