I did this drawing somewhere between Lugo and Ferreira. I can’t remember where exactly because the roadsigns were unreliable and the villages, tiny; sometimes with a population of one… or none. But it was about two thirds of the way into our 900 km trek from Irún to Finisterre on the legendary Camino de Santiago.
Before I left, quite a few people had said to me, ‘I shall look forward to the exhibition.’
Me? I was still fretting about whether or not my regular Sunday stroll into town for coffee and cake really did qualify me for a hike from one side of Spain to the other. Art was the last thing on my mind.
To be fair, though, art is what I usually do when I go away. And how could I trek over mountains, hike along the coast and traverse six of Spain’s historic cities without at least a few pens and a sketchbook?
Finding time to draw wasn’t easy, though.
We had between 20 and 30 km to cover every day so we often started out in the dark before dawn. And while we had our fair share of fine weather, we also had blistering heat, rain, wind and fog. Added to that, when we stopped for the day, exhausted, hungry, wet, dirty or dusty, we would often be sharing a dormitory with twenty or more others. What would you do first? Queue for the shower? Hunt down a vacant powerpoint to plug in your iPhone? Stock up on almonds and prunes at the nearest supermercado? Or reach for your fibre tip pens and doodle?
My alarm was set for 5 am and the lights went out at 10 pm, so even if my Muse did deign to pay me a visit, I wouldn’t have long with her.
Needless to say, it took a little time for me to adapt to my new life, but gradually, very gradually, a few drawings appeared and even though I don’t like many of them, I wouldn’t part with a single one.
I’ve written a little more about this conundrum in my regular ‘Dairy Of A Jobbing Artist’ for a forthcoming issue of Paint & Draw magazine.