Archive 5: Czech in Colour!

I also took my coloured pencils and A3 drawing pad to Czechoslovakia.

I mainly used them in a rather elegant town called Bardajov, where many of the buildings where painted in lovely colours, and some were also prettily decorated.

The day I visited was bright, sunny and hot, which provided perfect contrasts and shadows.

It is such a long time since I have done this style of drawing, but I imagine each of the sketches would have taken perhaps 30 -40 minutes.

One of the reasons I prefer to work smaller these days, is that simply standing and supporting an A3 pad on your arm for that long is hard.

Doing it in bright sun only makes it more exhausting and I do remember getting rather tetchy doing the one on the right.

I know a lot of Urban Sketchers use travelling stools to get over this problem, and I did toy with one once, but you already have so much to carry, what with the tin of pencils, the pad and all your normal day-trip stuff, that I found carrying a stool too was just a thing too far!

This last is from another small, historic town in the same area, called Tabor. I seem to recall only having a couple of hours there, so only managed the single drawing. That's the one drawback to sketching - it sucks up all your time and if you're not careful, you don't get to do much else!!

Archive 4: Czechoslovakia in Black & White

I travelled in what was then Czechoslovakia, immediately before Poland (see Archive 3). I like to get off the main tourist routes if possible. It was sometimes tricky: neither my friend nor I could drive, so it was all done on trains and buses.

That in itself can be an experience though. This sketch was done on a bus between villages. Many older woman still wore traditional dress.

Liptovska Teplicka, where the bus was headed, turned out to fabulous for drawing. It was a little, farming community, set amongst pine-clad hills, and apparently uncontaminated by the uglier side of modern life.

The buildings were traditional and mainly wooden. Big white ducks waddled the streets and yards were stacked with woodpiles and farming paraphernalia.

I spent a couple of very happy hours wandering about with my friend, sketching this and that. There were not all that many people around, but those we bumped into seemed surprisingly unsurprised to see us, although I felt as though we stood out almost like time travellers.

Another, even tinier village I'll never forget, is Sumiac. There was nobody about, so my frined and I were standing sketching outside a really interesting old wooden house. I had nearly finished, when I spotted the owner in the doorway. He was an old man. Although I worried he might be upset at us, he just smiled and sat on the porch to watch.

When we had finished, we showed him our drawings and we got into one of those peculiar, mainly mimed conversations. We told him we were from England, and he told us that he was born in the year 1900.

He had such a brilliant face, I asked if I could draw him. While I was drawing this portrait, another very old man came shuffling down the hill, dressed in what I thought was a much-faded military uniform, but turned out to be his old tram-drivers uniform.

In part mime, part Czech, he was obviously telling us we shouldn't bother with the first man and his grotty old house, we should be drawing his place instead! He then grabbed my arm and dragged me up the hill. He made us wait while he set up wooden stools in the dirt road, then 'told' us to get on with it!

I am very sad that I can't show you the drawing, as he was obviously desperate to keep it, so I had to give it up. One funny thing - he had a 'page 3' pin-up in his front window. I tactfully left it out, but he would not accept the drawing until I had drawn it in!!