Travels with my Sketchbook

This year so far has been inspirational, and now is the time to take stock of it all…My first year as an Art Technician at Alton College has been a learning curve- this week it’s been lovely to start getting the Textiles Studio in order, and make sure we have all the supplies we need.
Things that were a revelation last year were: making felt; how difficult it is to sew in a zip; how fun making photograms is; how to use foil in a heatpress; laser cutting; learning to not take anything too personally! I felt a bit sad that my only chance to teach was in photography, and deciding it wasn’t for me has meant I won’t get another chance to teach within my specialisms. However in many ways, I am happier to make my own work and take new skills where I find them.
The other thing was really enjoying the holidays that being in an academic environment affords- because of my husband’s job in development, he attends meetings in some exciting places -and this year, as a family we got to come along twice.
The first trip was to Washington – so many free museums and galleries – it was astonishing. It was mostly about the kids, but I got to go to two art galleries, one with an exhibition of American Printmaking and the Renwick, which had an amazing range of installation work called ‘Wonder’.
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In August, a symposium at Aspen Meadows allowed us a trip to Colorado. This began with a couple of trips into Aspen itself. The kids and I cycled alongside the Roaring Fork River, where the girls dipped their toes in the icy snowmelt water. We also explored the Aspen Centre for Environmental Studies (ACES) which is a 25 acre nature reserve – it was wet and misty, and more of a place to visit with a school on a mission than a place to just drop in, but we all thought it was very beautiful, especially the bullrushes along the lake.
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We also visited Aspen Art Museum, which was the best of the trip (Boulder Art Museum didn’t really do it for me – I did a nice sketch of the street from the window, but we actually had to pay to get in). Amazing textile work by Alan Shields, and visceral assemblage work from African American artist John Outterbridge. Loved it.
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A little afternoon trip up the mountain in a gondola, and a nose around the stately Hotel Jerome, and that was Aspen.
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Our first stop was Vail, which was so posh and fake Swiss that it made Aspen look look like a dude ranch. I tried to take some pictures from the window on our way to Estes (we spotted the hotel which was the inspiration for The Shining) and we were in the Rockies proper.

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We went on to have breakfast in Frisco – bonafide gold rush country and Glenwood Springs where Doc Holliday famously died with his boots on. Great museum at Frisco where they’ve literally kept all the old log cabin houses and moved them so that you can see what they were like. I wanted to draw the super old fashioned till and each building was accompanied with audio and interviews from descendants of the owners. Utterly fascinating how the women of Frisco got the town out of depression and back on the electricity grid after the prospectors had left.

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Estes Rocky Mountain Park is where the girls got their Junior Ranger Badges – we got up early, walked around bear lake, then up to the Trail Ridge Road -frankly terrifying to drive for Chris, but breathtaking -there was still some snow up there and it was very cold. Hence the lady in her Ski hat having a chocolate break with her man – that is pretty romantic.

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We got up early and headed to Boulder on our way home – it was super hot, so we went to a Science Museum where there was air-conditioning. These were our last views of Estes.

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These are my two sketches from Boulder – view from the Art Gallery, and some kids climbing on a plastic dinosaur…

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We spent the rest of the summer in France, where my In-Laws visited for a week, so we made the most of eating out and going to the beach when it cooled down a bit.

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