I travelled for almost 2 months in a loop that looked (almost) like this.
My trip was made possible by the Embassy of Spain Torres Travelling Scholarship, which is awarded every year to a graduating student from the Australian National University School of Art in Canberra. The structure of the study tour was fantastic in that I had the freedom to write my own itinerary and make decisions about which exhibitions, museums, cities etc I wanted to visit, while the Embassy helped me to make some invaluable connections with staff and resources in many of the places I went. Over the coming year I am working towards a solo exhibition (to be held in Canberra, 2012) inspired by my journey so I hope that this series of posts will eventually transition into ideas and works in progress in preparation for the exhibition.
Before going away I was encouraged to write down a few of my goals for the trip:
History: to gain a broader understanding of the history of Spanish art, architecture and culture through a survey of major museums and institutions.
Technique: to examine approaches to tone, mark-making and composition in the prints and drawings of artists including Goya and Picasso.
Concepts: to study artists inspired by natural forms and structures (eg. Gaudi) and who have united elements of observation and imagination (eg. Dali).
Landscape: to explore subject matter for my future work by hiking in National Parks including Parque Nacional Ordesa y Monte Perdido.
It's interesting to look back on these initial goals and realise that my expectations were exceeded in each area, while along the way I found so many additional, and equally important, inspirations everywhere I looked! One of the things that I love most about travelling is the feeling of openness I have when exploring new places - to feel that my primary concern in that moment is simply to observe/absorb/experience everything around me, not only the most enormous cathedrals, but also the narrow streets, not only the postcard view, but also the details, the perspectives and the atmosphere. I think that this is how I try to approach life in general, but my awareness definitely seems amplified when travelling...
Anyway, here is a sketch from my first day in Madrid, it began with an observation of a great hanging wire sculpture by Gego at the Reina Sofia (amazing modern art museum). I was drawn to it because of the delicate use of line in space and because of the interesting contrast between the analytical precision of the sculpture and the mysterious soft, shifting shadows that it cast. The bottom half of the drawing started off being about the shadows, but also became about the general excitement of that day zipping about Madrid on the Metro :)