Places you should consider visiting

Probably, if I were right and being right on and stuff, this would be illustrated with photographs (like I used to do) and drawings (oh wait, that we can manage) but…

Anyway, I was planning to go to Venice on my holidays to be all artistic and drink hot chocolate in this one cafĂ© I hoped I’d be able to find having not seen it in ten years but I’m sure it’s near the university when events eventuated and I wound up not going to Venice on my holidays but going to a corner of Europe most people don’t usually holiday in, not from Ireland anyway. It’s best known for a few castles, and a lot of pan European administration. I started in Brussels and ended up in Frankfurt and went to Luxembourg on the way.

However, this allowed me to knock an item off my bucket list by visiting Trier and Heidelberg. Heidelberg has a Lamy flagship store which of course should be everyone’s number one reason for going there provided everyone has the taste to like their pens, but it also has one of the all time great castles in Europe. You should go.

Trier is, as far as I know, the northernmost Roman city on the European Mainland (I’m saying this because there’s almost certainly one further north in the UK somewhere, only that less of it remains that remains of Trier. It has quite a few Roman monuments still lying around, such as the Porta Nigra which:

 

I endeavoured to draw into my marker notebook. Later I shall try to put it in my travel notebook as well along with some words.

Trier is a lovely town. It is a university city and in addition to this, it also has a cathedral which is basically an epitome of what I feel cathedrals should look like. Worth visiting. ON the downside, I missed the Roman baths, and Considine’s Basilica although that was careless as I did pass right by it at some point, lost.

To get to Trier, you’ve a couple of options:

  1. fly into Brussels and get the train. This is likely to be your cheapest option courtesy of Ryanair.
  2. fly into Frankfurt Hahn and hire a care. This may be cheaper than (1) but I don’t know as I haven’t priced it.
  3. fly into Luxembourg and get the train. This has limited availability in that unlike Brussels, there are not six flights daily between Aer Lingus and RYanair, but one five or six times a week with Luxair.
  4. Fly into Frankfurt and get the train.

Once you’ve checked out Trier, it’s not that hard to get to Heidelberg. I recommend the castle in Heidelberg and the funicular (it’s only 12E and includes the top and the bottom and all stations in between and entry into the castle. I strongly recommend the castle in Heidelberg. I gather you can walk up (but get the funicular it’s easier).

I like holidays like this. You get to do stuff and no one is trying to ram cheap holiday cocktails down your throat.

Notebooks and sketchbooks (again)

I’m just back from my holidays during which time I visited three countries, two capital cities and an ancient Roman ruin.

I’ve realised that the internet, and the always on internet at that has changed how I pass my free time. So while I was away, I did not get much written in my journal which goes everywhere with me, and as for the painting, well despite the fact that I packed 24 water colours, the fact is I spent most of my time doing my marker journal instead.

At least I did that.

When I got home yesterday, I made a start on the travel journal and during the course of a conversation – online – with a friend, I realised that I did not actually know how many active sketchbooks I had at the moment. When I say “active” mean “not finished, and currently being used for some purpose or other”.

Back in the day before I started drawing, painting, using markers, I used to carry around my journal. That was it, Mostly it was an A5+ Clairefontaine or, since I settled in Ireland, as likely to be a Paperblanks journal. I also used to have a total of 4 good ballpoint pens and about the same number of fountain pens. They’ve all been engaging in serious orgies in the last few years so I think i have about 8 amazing ballpoint pens (used to be classified good), as many again good ballpoint pens (less expensive Caran D’Ache pens in other words), at least 14 Lamy fountain pens, two Caran D’Ache fountain pens, and a bunch of good Faber Castell ballpoints with matching mechanical pencils plus loads of other mechanical pencils, mainly Kuru Togos or Pentel Graphgears. I think there are a bunch of Caran D’Ache mech pencils of various flavours too. I’d like a Rotring or five but being honest, I can’t manage what I have at the moment. Usually I call this having a stationery problem. Today I’m inclined to think part of it is a living in Ireland problem. Anyway.

Back with the whole travel journal thing leading to musings about sketchbooks, I have the following in operation that I know of:

  • Stillman and Bern was supposed to be a general sketchbook but somehow isn’t. Should take watercolours and markers but doesn’t
  • Rhodiarama webnotebook, handbag, basically the “so I always have a sketchbook” sketchbook. I drawn into it with a fineliner (currently a Pigma Micron and we will talk about fineliners later)
  • Rhodiarama webnotebook, homeless, markernotepad and “mixed media” where mixed media includes “stamps I like”. Somehow travel stuff sneaks in here too because of the whole stamps things.
  • Moleskine WC Travel journal: this is supposedly my travel journal but I somehow tend to draw into it from photos on my phone after I get home.
  • Moleskine WC TravelMemory journal for those trips I did before I started drawing and painting
  • A3 cartridge: bought to do detailed architectural drawings and detailed pencil drawings. Currently there is a bit of a lighthouse in there.
  • A4 cartridge: bought to learn in
  • A4 Hahnemuhler sketchbook: houses last year’s Inktober, was an attempt to find a nice journal that handled watercolours. It’s not bad with water colours per se, it’s just not excellent either.
  • Square Hahnemuhler: visual diary for personal stuff. Not sure where it is
  • uhem
  • A5 cartridge: bought to learn in. Mainly pencil stuff
  • Provence journal: this is a Fabiano Venezia, bought to depict my imaginary life, the one I’d have if life was fair, in other words, as opposed to the one where Paris Hilton is fabulously wealthy and I have to work.
  • Craftpaper journal: this is the beige coloured paper journal
  • Moleskine black sketch pretend A5: this is the black paper journal.

That’s a useful census to have done; it’s almost certain I have forgotten.

One of the big, big problems with all this is that I now have sketchbooks everywhere because apart from the one which lives in my handbag, these things broadly have no permanent place. I don’t have adequate shelving or storage of any other class for these things, and not for the art stuff. The art stuff arrived very late into my life, at a time when I had developed certain habits and choices. It isn’t yet fitting in very well.

While I was on holiday, another set of notebooks arrived, a set I had backed on Kickstarter (I don’t usually do this but) and while it is exactly what I ordered, the truth is I backed it months ago and now, my life is still kind of not fitting it. I like the idea but I still need shelf space. The list above doesn’t include all the new pads I haven’t used yet, or the blocks which I use for “good” paintings, the ones which I haven’t found a way of displaying either.

I’ve spent some time looking online for how other people solve this problem and to be frank, it seems to me that they don’t. I see pictures of piles of sketchbooks, and piles of markers, and piles of paintboxes. I never had a reputation of being particularly tidy but I am organised (yes, that sounds contradictory) and while things might not have looked tidy, they were orderly in the way of “things had a place and that place was where they were kept”. As a result, despite apparently being untidy, I almost never, ever lost everything and I made a good fist of keeping things together that logically belonged together. I’m utterly failing to do this in rented accommodation in Dublin.

Mainly because I didn’t get much choice about the furniture here tbh.

So if I were going to say anything, I probably have a sketchbook problem. One of my friends told me the other day he likes how I organise the drawings across different sketchbooks. I like that he likes that because in a very serious respect, that’s how I like organising stuff. It’s just that on the actual physical side of many sketchbooks I feel hunted, seriously hunted. The sketchbooks are generally scattered across four locations and I tend to have to go moving stuff around the place to ensure all the art stuff I need is in the same place as I want to go painting, drawing or whatevering.