I’m posting these out of order, I will have to post the remaining exercises and research for Part 4 later.
For this exercise I decided to write an article about a recent trip to Japan which I could then also use for the Vixen magazine. Whilst on our trip I took my sketchbook and my camera to get plenty of visual references for the article.
I was very excited to go to Japan because I loved the Japanese artists Hokusai and Hiroshige. I had wondered if I would be disappointed by the reality of twentieth century Japan but we had planned the trip to experience traditional Japan and it worked out really well. Whilst we walked the ancient road to Edo in the constant rain, with umbrellas, I was hugely reminded of woodcuts I had seen. I spent quite a lot of time trying to get a photo of the group in a line, to match a half remembered image of travellers in the rain. The scenery was actually incredibly evocative of the woodcuts, bamboo forests tossing in the wind, many waterfalls. I wanted a scene of Mount Fuji in homage to “Thirty Six Views of Mount Fuji” but it was shrouded in cloud so I had to make that one up. The traditional inns too were a delight, unchanged in many ways over the centuries.
The trip was a guided tour and was pretty busy. I never really felt I had the opportunity to sit and spend a long time sketching a scene even though I felt that is what a “proper artist” would do. I actually found that the photographs were my most useful visual reference, the sketching that I did on holiday served more as keeping my hand in and as a form of relaxation. Towards the end of the holiday I started to pull together ideas about what I wanted to include in the article. I looked back through my photos for good references.
I made a series of line sketches from my photos. I wanted to add a bit of muted colour, but keep a fairly restricted palette. It had rained the whole time in Japan so the whole trip was mainly greens and greys. We had hoped to see the autumn colours but were slightly too early.
I did some watercolour/gouache washes as background colour for the line drawings and combined them in Photoshop. I kept the images as loose as possible and decided to call the article “Japan Sketchbook” as they looked like loose sketches that could have been done at the time.
I added a bit of text to accompany each image. Again, I kept it loose and informal, the sort of notes I might have made at the time. I used an informal font too.
When I finished it I sent it out via email to all the rest of our tour group and the guide which was a really nice ending to the whole thing.