We have had the luxury of visiting the Picasso museum in Barcelona twice, though Picasso has never been top on my list, his work is amazing. On each visit I was impressed by the transformation of his style over time. On our most recent visit, October of 2022, I found a comforting quote. As Picasso aged, his paintings were done in bold primary colors and with simple expressive shapes, as if a child had been given a new box of crayons and went crazy. Of course there was a bit more balance and composition than most children have, it was Picasso after all, yet the frequent description is that they are childlike. Picasso said: “As a child I was taught to paint as an adult, as an adult I learned to paint as a child.”
Years ago I read advice from an Urban Sketcher with a large following who encouraged people to “find their style.” It was implied that you find the style that suites you and stick with it. Yet what you quickly discover when you look at the “great” painters is that they never followed that admonition.
Over the years I have used pen-and-ink, acrylics on canvas, ink and wash, markers… Then on our trip to Japan and Korea a few years ago Sumi grabbed me. Honestly I have always had a bit of guilt because I could not “find my style.” Well if Picasso could go from classical painting to cubism to childlike then it only makes sense that us lesser gods should have the same freedom.
Tricia and I both have a strong attraction to Japan, thanks to our Japanese daughter Saori. When Alexis was in high school Saori came to live with us as an exchange student, we connected immediately. Saori came to Alexis’ wedding and we went to her’s in Tokyo. For Christmas this year Saori and Dijiaro sent me a travel Sumi ink block – Sumi sketching has been rekindled.
We went to Paris in August of 2022, I was so thrilled to finally visit a real art supply store, they don’t exist in our rural part of France. I bought Faber Castell watercolor markers, which I love. Since August I have rarely touched a watercolor pallet, using the markers for everything needing color. In the last couple of months I have reverted to my origins of pen-and-ink, thoroughly enjoying it.
Sunday we sat in the Spinnaker lounge on the Norwegian Sun, it faces forward with a sweeping view; one of our favorite places onboard. I started doing Sumi and found I still loved it, wondering why I had stopped, and kicking myself for leaving my Sumi brushes in Mukilteo.
What I realize is that I really enjoy Sumi, it is creative and expressive. It may or may not get as much attention on Instagram as some landscape paintings I post, but so what, art should be for the artist first. I will always be theTravelsketcher, though there will certainly be some Sumi slants to sketches in the near future.
Here are a few from some time ago, they are motivating me to spend time doing more.
If there is a point to this blog it is first to justify to myself my chameleon like art journey, I am just like Picasso. (Well ok not quite, so far nothing of mine sells for millions, but you get the idea.) Secondly it is to encourage any readers to just do what gives you pleasure when it comes to art, but the important thing is to just do something.
So capture your moments, if they are on a voyage or if the journey is in your imagination, capture them and share them with us all.