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Try an odyssey by Robert Genn

Try an odyssey
by Robert Genn

Odysseus, in Homer's Odyssey, is ten years getting back to Ithaca from the Trojan Wars. All kinds of crap and corruption take place while he's gone, including interference with his wife Penelope. Our odysseys need not be so traumatic, and regular little ones can invigorate.

I recommend three- and four-hour car-sorties. In our family we call it "mosey driving." Unlike your regular trip to Costco, you move around so you can look and see and perhaps record. Your mind needs to slow down and drop into a visually aware trance so you can access your latent "appreciation mode." A lot of good stuff can probably be found just blocks from your home. Because of the "click and go" habit, a camera can be counter-productive. You need a journaling pad or sketchbook. I often use small stretched canvases hooked over the steering wheel. We've put some photos of my system at the top of the current clickback.

To mosey in foreign lands, with no particular itinerary, is my idea of artist's heaven.

Starting this September, my friend Don Getz of Peninsula, Ohio, is planning a year-long coast-to-coast US odyssey of watercolour journaling. Don has chosen to be in selected small towns and villages on certain dates, and he's giving two- and three-day workshops in many of them. A lifetime of commercial art and obsessive sketching make Don the "King of the Journaling Instructors," and anyone who has seen his work will know why. We've put Don's work and info at the top of the current clickback.

Don's system is to draw the perimeter first, then, without benefit of pencil, using a permanent laundry marker called Identi-pen, he commits his lines in ink. "Ink gives confidence and a deadly eye," says Don. After the drawing is more or less the way he wants it, he comes in with watercolour washes. The idea is to keep the work understated, fresh and lively. Don's journals are not pretentious; they are the passing stations of a lifelong odyssey.

Best regards,

Robert

PS: "With journal sketching a great deal of work can be accomplished in a rather short period of time. Speed is key, and speed comes from practice." (Don Getz)

Esoterica: I was in a narrow Breton lane moving slowly beside a decaying church. Passing a stone wall with an open gate, I glimpsed several artists at their easels. Entering quietly on foot, I saw the object of their attention was a tall, auburn-haired and naked young woman with skin like ivory. She was posing on an old fountain that burped an intermittent stream around her delicate feet. Flashing my sketchbook to a young man, I tried to imply the camaraderie of a fellow traveller. "S'il vous plaƮt monsieur, pas de photos," he quietly warned in a gesture of welcome before a quick return to his painting. I could be wrong, but even in France blessings like this never happen up on the National Autoroute.

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Robert Genn has given ARTAZINE permission to post from his twice-weekly newsletter. For more of his artistic insights, visit his blog at www.painterspost.com.

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