Sketchy Behaviour in the Park


Sketchy Behaviour’s second outing.

And as we sketched, the guiri musicians of Jaén called their own meeting (perhaps that’s too grand a word) in the city! A creative vibe is infectious – particularly in a small community like ours!

This time: landscapes, and Jaén has quite a few to offer. This time we looked up towards the castle (Castillo de Santa Catalina) and cross (I was directly across from the side of this, hence no “arms”). It’s a very rocky view and quite challenging from that point of view. I think I would have struggled with this even more a few weeks ago so I think the more regular drawing is paying off.

A Posting Experiment: What is this Camino anyway?

  Many thanks for your comments and suggestions regarding my camino experience! I have some more queries that I am hoping some of you might have some thoughts on :-). The experiment part of this post is to do it entirely from my phone to see how long that will take :-)!! But first, in response to Karen’s question “what is the camino anyway?” (She put it more elegantly!). Veterans please skip to “questions for the veterans” :-)!

The Saint James Way

Often Spoken of in the singular, these are a collection of medieval pilgrimage trails (some pre dating this) leading from various sites in Europe (as far as northern France and Austria) to the Spanish city of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia.

St James (Santiago) is a big deal in Spain, he brought the message of Christianity to the Iberian peninsula. The Virgin Mary was said to have appeared to him on a pillar while he was preaching here (explaining popular Spanish female first name “Pilar”).

After that, he made the unwise decision to return to Judea and was promptly decapitated.  But his remains ended up in “the field of stars” (possibly via people, possibly via angels, the exact story is debated), now Santiago de Compostela.

While many still make the journey motivated by religion, it has become a popular way to see a beautiful variety of Spanish landscapes, while throwing off the trappings and luxuries of daily life. All you own (for the duration of the trip), you carry.


The routes which I am considering are in the north of Spain and thus benefit from the proximity of the Atlantic, and are significantly cooler than the “Via de plata” from Seville, or the camino de Madrid. The “camino Portuguese” is the second most popular trail in the Iberian peninsula, but I’m keen to stay in Spain, so it’s not a route I’ve considered in detail

Camino Francés

The distance and duration depend on your starting point. By far the most popular is the “Camino Francés”, with some …. Pilgrims completing the trail in 2014. It takes around 4 weeks and covers ….km (miles). It is well serviced, with villages, or at least rest stops every few kilometres.

Camino del Norte

I’m tempted by the camino del Norte, running right along the coast, starting at San Sebastián. The distances between the allergies (or albergues without the spellcheck!) are greater and it’s less well marked. Less pilgrims choose this route, and I wonder if it’s slightly quieter reputation would suit me better.


The albergues are very basic hostels, which commonly cost very little (€7-10) per night for communal sleeping areas. My understanding is that these could be more expensive on the camino del Norte.


I’d welcome any advice on the following issues:

1. Do you know anyone who has done the “camino del Norte”? How easy is it to keep to the route

2. Will I be able to buy a silk sleep sheet on the route? I’m worried about the bed bugs!

3. Has anyone been sketching or drawing on the route? Any advice about this?

4. What is the availability of wifi on the camino DSL Norte? Ps experiment took quite a long time. Less words from the road I think!

Evaluation of the post writing on the mobile platform:

it’s possible but the nature of a small keyboard makes it more time consuming.

An autocorrect has changed my “albergues” to allergies without me noticing.

For uploading some pictures, and short commentaries, it should be ok.

Catching a dream


My friend Cassie makes very cool dream catchers, and she had offered to make me one in exchange for a drawing.

A drawing of what? My choice.

Cassie is off to travel around South America next year, and I wanted to give her something inspired by this, but made the mistake of working too long on the same drawing – should’ve had a breather!

The drawing of Cassie herself is pretty accurate, the plane is ok, but i really got into trouble with my heart not being in those hot air balloons :-(.  I’m getting something nice in exchange for my drawing, and I feel I can do better. I may cut and re-use the picture of Cassie in a different composition.

The white space at the bottom was for a bit of writing, probably the Ray Bradbury “stuff your eyes with wonder” quote.

This version is not sufficient to catch a dream, but I’m happy to keep trying!

Early preparations for the Camino


I think that for most people, a countdown of 17 days would not be labelled “early preparations”, but I remind you dear reader, that I am the queen of procrastination, and as such this is positively premature as far as I’m concerned.

I’ve spent the weekend watching some camino videos on the various internet video platforms.

My favourite is from Andrew Suzuki, concise, helpful and entertaining. The thoughts overall are “pack light” and remember that Spain is not a third world country and you will probably be able to pick stuff up along the way.

Jaén has a tiny outdoors shop “Campingmania” near San Ildefonso.

I’ve got a ridiculously low budget for doing the whole thing – this summer probably has to come in under €1000, and I’ll be sharing my purchases and expenses here, partly to keep myself in check. I agree that probably some time spent crawling the internet and online ordering could have saved me some cash, but I prefer to support local shops (and er, I haven’t really left myself that much time…).

I’m using my sketchbook to help me plan!

I do have some good quality gear from other adventures to kick me off (phew):

1. 1 pair TIVA walking sandals (broken-in in India 🙂 )

I’ve added this link because they’ve got quite a nice Instagram photo competition on the go for the photographers out there 🙂

2. Goretex Waterproof

3. Trusty Sigg waterbottle

and today I added to this:

4. Ferrino 36l backpack  €86

5. Ferrino XL travel towel €22

Additionally, I’m going to get a whistle, light, hat, knife and walking poles. I’ll get to my local pharmacy as well to stock up on some first aid items :-).

I don’t think I need much else, equipment-wise, but any thoughts from seasoned walkers would be interesting.

I’ll have my Spanish mobile with me, rather than my computer, and I’ve downloaded wordpress to my mobile. I doubt I’ll be posting lengthy reflections, but hopefully I’ll get some pictures up!

Sketchy Behaviour Homework

The great thing about our drawing group is the incentive to bring new work each week!

This was my lengthier attempt at drawing a photo of Nikita. It’s perhaps a bit clearer from this one why I said previously that Nikita had done “a bit of modelling before” 😉


Decluttering in Space, and Time

Minimalism is having a moment.

And my brother was ahead of the game.

When he was at university, he had a philosophy of only trying to accomplish “one thing” in a day, for example a “thing” might be going to the post office.

Eating, sleeping playing the guitar and watching TV seen as “core tasks”, which he enjoyed, or were necessary.  Other activities (studying, administrative items) were seen as intrusions to the schedule and were minimised.

This wasn’t amazing for his degree, but he plays the guitar very well, and has an innate understanding of media and storytelling and this is where he now works despite the lack of qualifications.

Many people have written about how routine can “declutter” our lives and lead to us accomplishing more. I’m certainly a person who can live, and prefers to live without many objects. I’ve been able to fit my life into two suitcases for the past five years, however I have sometimes felt that I allow things which are not important to me to “clutter” my time.

But for one month this summer, I will be privileged to be able to spend 4 weeks on 4 main tasks:

walking, sleeping eating and drawing on the Camino de Santiago.

(From what I’ve read, there’s a possibility that “foot care” may become an intrusive item.)

I’m looking forward to this sparse schedule, but the exact choice of camino is likely to significantly impact this experience. It’s something I’ll be giving consideration to in the next few days.

Sketchy Behaviour Inaugural Meeting

4 people with sketchbooks in the corner of one of Jaén’s central cafes.

One confused waitress.

Some interested onlookers.

I do draw outdoors in parks and cafes, but a larger (even very small) group does attract more attention in small town Spain.

It was a modest start, and very clear that we had all done quite a bit of drawing in our own way. I sat, as the model, for some warm up and Nikita (image below) sat more professionally having “done a bit of modelling in the past”. It turns out she’s a real pro: she can drink tea without moving her face :-). This isn’t the best likeness of her but she is pretty photogenic!

Two of the sketchers had mainly drawn from photographs before and understandably the busy moving cafe environment was all a bit much.

A really nice part of the experience, is sitting with friends quietly while everyone is engrossed in an activity (that isn’t playing crazy birds).

It’s off to a positive start and I think everyone went home itching to draw more!

I think a key element of this is sharing the work, and although it sounds silly, having other people appreciate what you have done!



Are Larks a bit smug?

This morning I woke, didn’t feel tired, at 6am.

5 hours after I went to bed.

It’s hard to explain because I’m a nine hours kinda girl, with night owl tendencies.

Although I’ve always been jealous of larks because they do seem to be getting stuff done AND the tranquility and easy light of the morning suit me well.

I know this mainly because occasionally when I drink the night before I wake early :-), not the case today.

The sky is pretty light, despite sunrise being a whole 10 minutes from now. My plan is to head to the park with my cookies* and attempt some more skies.

Some of my sky practice so far (evenings/photgraphs)



I certainly feel a bit smug at the moment (about the cookies and early start to the day, not the skies – yet!)

Do you think it’s possible to “reset the clock”?

* the word “cookies” oversells my oat/raisin/banana/peanut butter mix, softly warmed in the oven and refrigerated.

A Virtual Hiatus to attend Sketchbook School


I’ve had a few things on the go recently, and as usual, blogging dropped off my “to do” list! I always like to see other people’s work and get inspired by the amazing drawing, sketching and painting on the internet. I’ve had some time to do that in the last couple of days, and it has made me want to get involved in the conversation again!

I have however, managed to keep up my drawing, as I enrolled in Danny Gregory’sSketchbook School“. I read Danny’s book “The Creative Licence” about five years ago, as I was starting to change direction to prioritise what was important to me in my life, I remember it made me cry! (I am not really “a crier”). I think it spoke to a frustration in me at that time. Since, I’ve changed my job, I live in a different country, speak 2 more languages than I started with (although my Spanish still needs a lot of work 🙂 !). To some extent, I feel that I’ve needed all that experience to have the confidence to start drawing again.

So when I saw that Danny Gregory (and team) had developed an online classroom, I was interested in the concept. The timing also coincided with my re-connection with drawing. Although on my current wage it worked out at a relatively expensive $16.50 + VAT, I have certainly spent my cash on more frivolous items in the past, so I decided to go for it.

It is very well run, with a new lesson becoming available every Friday. It’s true that in comparison to a classroom experience, the lessons seem short. In truth art classes I have attended usually have a short demo followed by student application in situ, so I’ve not found this too troubling. The flexibility and portability of this online school has been a major advantage for me. I do also feel that there is enough “material” to last for the whole week, and I’ve certainly re-visited a lot of the videos. Displaying your homework assignment is also valuable (like here among the blogs!), you can see very directly how others have tackled similar subjects, styles or compositions and I’ve learned a lot through this.

It is a “sketchbook school” and I’ve always been one for an anonymous sheet of paper! But I have been converted to the convenience and unfailing presence of a book in my bag, I feel it’s probably more versatile than I’ve given it credit for, and there’s the acceptance of living with the pages that you are not too impressed with!

The above pages are the latest from my sketchbook school experience.

As a post script to this article, I should mention that Sketchbook School are doing a bit of a giveaway at the moment, with art and books from the online teaching faculty, you can enter here!