Sketchbook From The South Downs Way
My Sketchbook And Journal From The South Downs Way
It’s a strange notion, really, to want to fill a sketchbook with the story of just one hike. I usually fill them ad-hoc letting notes, ideas and observations flow as they flow, picking up whichever sketchbook has the right ‘feel’, shape, paper… Half-filled sketchbooks sit on my shelves, each waiting their turn for the next ‘right moment’.
I decided I want my national trail sketchbooks to be different: I want them to have a start and finish like the hike itself.
I got all excited at the thought of a neat row of 15 trail sketchbooks and journals sat on my bookshelf in the future. This is basically another way of saying I’m going to splurge on something I’ve coveted for ages!
Most of us convince ourselves we need new gear, but no, what I needed was a new journal for making art on The South Downs Way! Of course I did. Small, square, full of beautiful paper and lots of possibilities (for the hefty sum of 17 quid). Get in my rucksack.
Sketching Come Rain Or Shine
Unfortunately, that’s where it stayed for most of the 100-mile hike. Rain, rain, and more bloody rain put paid to my lofty ideals of a neat bookshelf. That is until I decided to continue working in it once I got home. So what you see below is a mixture of sketches and notes made both on the South Downs Way and back home.
When I look through the pages now I feel excited about what comes next – some larger paintings or drawings of the South Downs perhaps. But definitely another (matching) sketchbook for the next national trail! (The Cotswold Way hiked in summer 2021.)
Drawing Some Amazing Views
Chanctobury Ring is an incredible sight as it comes into view on the cusp of a rounded hill, and I was captivated by it. The distinctive beach trees were like a shadow play as leaden skies threw them into silhouette one minute and lit them up with golden sunlight the next. I couldn’t have asked for a more dramatic scene really, played out to an audience of one.
Old layers. Chalk, straw, clay, flint. Perfect mirrors that look like they’ve fallen off a dressing table. The surface unrippled (if it wasn’t dried up) reflecting big clouds and lonely trees. They provide the only water on top of the South Downs, keeping the livestock slaked, and me mesmerised.
Chalk Tracks And Hills
Chalk and flint. Hard and rough underfoot, slippery when wet. Broad enough for rumbling cartwheels (and mountain bikes in pairs) or narrow enough for droves of single-file sheep. Imagine the sound…
Thoughts And Scribbles
A Peek At Some Of My Original Notes and Art From The South Downs Way – enjoy!
Closing The Journal
Making art on the South Downs Way may have come to an end in my journal, but it won’t be closed for a while. I’ll use all these sketches, notes and memories to make some larger paintings and drawings. I can picture in my mind how they’ll take shape, inspired by the huge skies and rushing clouds, Kipling’s whale-backed hills, and what it felt like to be immersed in this unique landscape. I’ll post more about them as they come together, until then, thanks for reading and