From a Traveler's Sketchbook: Spain
September - October 1997
Commonwealth Club of California, San Francisco

Whenever I travel I sketch. Drawing forces me to understand what I am looking at. What does the light look like? What feeling do the colors give the scene? What looks like something back home? What elements seem new or put into an unfamiliar context? And how do they all add up to give the specific feeling of that place?

In creating these initial souvenirs, these life drawings, I am challenged to distill the scene to its most telling elements. Many times, especially when travelling on a train or in a car, a momentary glance is all I am given. I am reduced to using a visual shorthand in the hope that I can later enlarge upon the sketch with my memory.

This show was the result of the second phase of making my travel souvenirs. Over time, only the most important visual elements remain. Years past the original experience, I used the initial sketches to spur my memory and create more complete works. I tried to convey how the place felt to me rather than specifically how it looked. The abstraction of the sketches makes it impossible for me to honestly elaborate on unrecorded visual detail. What I examined meticulously was my memory of how the scene affected me.




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a few sketches from my Spain sketchbooks, 1991