Have pen, will travel. Sending letters.
A letter from Greenland. In which is given another glimpse into the travel sketchbook.
Greenland, summer of 2014
you may remember that other letter and view into the travel sketchbook in which I told you that I hardly ever leave home without pencil and sketchbook in my pocket. Wherever I go. En route, the travel sketch is a great means of capturing a place and scene, sometimes in my opinion indeed superior to some quick photo en passant – well yes, of course I already advocated benefit and use of keeping a journal and spicing it up with an occasional travel sketch extensively in yet another recent letter. So, it shouldn’t really come as a surprise that indeed the sketchbook accompanied me when we left for Greenland, am I right?
To be honest, that first kayak expedition to Greenland on Viking tracks back in 2008 was the moment I was actually returning to more regular (travel) sketching – in the beginning experimenting with some kind of ink pens which were light and promised a decent colorization. While these are absolutely perfect for some quick colour ‘on the go’, I found myself a little bit limited when it came to variety and range of colours – and in particular blending those. Of course, you could argue (and that’s what I indeed did initially) that, naturally, Greenland’s colour palette might be somehow limited anyway. I mean, ice, water, rocks, more ice … how much variety would you expect, right? Well, I was taught better: I mean, it’s not named Greenland for nothing, mind you. So, it did not need much more experimenting until I found a ‘sketching field kit’ which worked well for me: some small rugged 12-pan box with a replaceable set of water colours (allowing to change the palette related to the destination) and a sed of basically three brushes of different size. Add some sketchbooks small enough to fit the pocket – et voilà.
Kayaking Greenland is of course a fabulous experience and more than once I was simply overwhelmed by the breathtaking scenery. Clearly, this demanded to be captured on paper. And while actually sketching in the kayak did not exactly seem like a manageable undertaking (keeping a hand at paddle and pencil at the same time surely would be beyond my limited multitasking capabilities), it almost became a dear ritual to reach for sketchbook and pencil once we arrived at a daily stage’s destination (of course, once the boat was unloaded; and camp pitched up).
Yet there’s so much to discover. From epic sweeping views to incredible little details. Those colourful traditional festive costume of the girls on their first day of school. Bored sled dogs, having not much to do in summer. The fjord unfurling towards that glacier in the distance, unbashful seals curiously peeking out of the water, the mandatory iceberg looming in the mist. Almost some kind of postcard idyll. No, wait. Make that a sketchbook idyll!