Last weekend I attended a wedding at Tower Bridge where I was commissioned to draw the occasion. You can read more about my drawing at weddings here. Usually, as I am based near Manchester, my weddings are in the North West. Often my clients are very familiar with my work and drawing style and like my reportage approach! Despite that, there is always a degree of nerves, especially ones at such impressive venues as Tower Bridge and Dickens Inn, St Katherine’s Dock!
The Oxford English Dictionary cites the origin of the word ‘reportage’ to come from the Early 17th century French, from Old French reporter ‘to carry back’. In this way, reportage illustration is a form of visual journalism, visual storytelling. You go out into the world around you and take back with you that experience. That memory, in drawn form, with pen, and ink and…. whatever else it is possible to record onto a surface with. Continue reading
After the stopover it was a mere 7 hour flight from Singapore to Perth in Western Australia and a daytime flight, leaving at 9,30 am and arriving in the afternoon. Then, after a family reunion and a single night in Perth, we travelled, in several cars, armed with everything imaginable, drink, food, clothes, wedding dresses, Oh, you name it…….’down south’. Now this is difficult for us Northern Hemisphere habitants to get our heads around: In this part of the world it is cooler down south (mid 20’s so no worries on that score!) and warmer and drier up north (if only this were true in the UK!!). We were to stay for a week: Wednesday to Wednesday with the wedding on the Saturday.
The Margaret River region is awash with many wineries and in the summer many people travel there to get married on one of the vineyard estates. My nephew and his bride to be were to be married on Aravina Estate in Yallingup , 266 km from Perth. Yallingup is named after an Australian Aboriginal word that means ‘Place of Love’. It is a popular tourist destination because of its beaches and limestone caves, as well as its proximity to Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park. We stayed in a large rented house 10 minutes drive from the venue that could accommodate the numerous people staying! It was like an episode from the Waltons (but with Australian accents!). In the couple of days before the wedding, I managed several sketches, I even managed to get over to Aravina to draw the actual venue (I knew there would be little time for this on the day!):
Places visited before the wedding Our accommodation in YallingupThe Weddding Venue: Aravina Estate
Of course most of you know that I had been ‘building up’ in sketching terms, for several months, for the wedding because I was going to be sketching it! This was scary, but once you are into the day, you have no chance to think about it, just to draw. So that is just what I did!
Because my nephew and all the Grooms Men and Grooms maid (? Who has ever heard of this: it was my niece so pretty much everything got organized by her!), were at our accommodation on the morning of the wedding, I was able to start sketching (and thinking about just what materials I would use) then. I had an idea I would use watercolour pencil and ink later but the first sketches showed that this wasn’t a great idea-the pencil blunted quickly and the relative permanence meant that I may as well go straight to ink if I was going that route! I therefore did most of the drawings in pencil (a 0.7 mm rotring 2B lead, propelling pencil) and or ink (lamy fountain pen and a carbon platinum pen_ and added colour later. All of the sketches were done in situ, at the venue. None were done from photographs and the work done afterwards was just watercolour and some line (going over existing marks). I found the pencil easier, especially for the larger crowd scenes as it was quicker, enabling me to put figures into the scheme quicker. At the same time, it was not so blunt as to prevent the drawing of facial features. All of the drawings were done in a Moleskine watercolour album (13 x 21 cm) and the completed book was handed over to the happy couple when we left Margaret River.
Having experienced the process, I think in future I would seek to do all the line work in pen, on the day and then add watercolour pencil and colour later if necessary. I would also seek to jot down key phrases and thoughts rather than try and remember them! As for the book, I like the idea of giving a book but perhaps a bigger book or loose pages may work better, especially if prints are to be made, since several of my sketches were drawn over the double page.
With family altogether and plenty going on, it was hard to do more than a sketch or two each day (apart from the wedding day!). After the wedding, we did have a formal lunch at one of the more formal wineries and visited local towns along the coast.
Next up, for something completely different. Having returned to Perth, the next day was a long trip ‘Up North’ for a week. The next blog documents that trip, this time, in a concertina sketchbook.