“In the field I have a notebook, of course. Somewhere in my backpack or satchel. But I also have an additional ‘Hahnemühle Travel Booklet’ always at hand. This one’s for those occasional scenes, you find interesting or important enough to capture in a quick sketch. It needs to be small and thin, but yet sturdy enough for a couple of weeks in the pocket of my pants or a shirt. Even more important: the paper. When it comes to adding some colour, the wheat’s separating from the chaff – pretty annoying if you’re collection of travel sketches is ruined by watercolour bleeding through, isn’t it? That’s why I was pretty happy when I finally found the ‘Travel Booklets’. Rough and tough, quality paper, and pocket sized. Never going on a journey without one or two of these” stated Jens Notroff, German archaeologist, artist, world traveler. Read more on his expeditions which reminds on Indiana Jones. “Sketching is … a great chance to learn a different way of perception. While we tend to see the world through the view finder of our digital cameras these days, trying to capture the moment, drawing really is about observing, taking time and looking closer. So, if you don’t mind, let’s have a look into my sketchbook from an autumn’s excavation expedition 2013 to south-eastern Anatolia …
While the town of Şanlıurfa … known as Edessa (Mesopotamia) in ancient times, can be regarded as a metropolis nowadays, its old town still breaths this exotic oriental atmosphere. Narrow alleyways, rising slim towers and minarets, outstanding oriel windows. The bright and shimmering light, the exotic architecture, and the buzzing street life are downright asking you to pause and let the scene sink in.
Approaching Urfa’s old bazaar and entering the former caravanserai it was established in and nearby, the visitor is leaving behind the street noise but will be immediately captured by another most bustling atmosphere. Busy sales booths, chatty salesmen, veiled women passing by, the crowd dragging you along. Suddenly, a small byway opens up, releases you from the stream right into the heart of the old way-station – which turns out to serve as small tea room these days, offering some peculiar local delicacies as I noted at a page with some quick sketches I took over a coffee or two… Sitting in a café gives you the perfect occasion to have a closer look at the people around you, to discover all the little local peculiarities – without actually being too flamboyant and intrusive. Even more, the sketchbook is quite handy in situations where a camera would be a bit too flashy…
More sketches evolve from everyday situations, like at the excavation site itself. While digging in ancient dust can be some kind of ‘daily grind’ as well, it also brings enough diversion to be recorded by the attentive observer…Or the observation how dramatically the changing lightning conditions over the day can influence your perception of the landscape. Not to talk of those other situations allowing you to document all these little work steps taking place at an excavation. From physical digging to precision work at the sieves and individual workmen portraits. Or the little daily occurrences at the roadside. The range of motives is immense once you got the chance to lean back and discover the moment.
Usually, I do most of these quick sketches with a pencil, adding slight nuances of shadow and light, and – if necessary – a short note on the colour scheme. The coloration is done later with Schmincke´s HORADAM watercolour, in a calm moment and with more leisure. Watercolour needs some time to dry, so patience is another factor – and, I’ve got to admit, a challenge sometimes…”
Excerpt from his blog article: From the Sketchbook – Travelling Turkey
Archaeologist, artist, world traveler
Flickr: Travel Sketchbook: Turkey, Autumn 2013