The earliest explorers brought artists along with them to document the journeys. Captain Cook brought John Webber to Australia, Fitzroy brought along Conrad Martens to South America, and even William Bartram brought his sketch journal with him to Florida, documenting new species of plants and animals. Now, with the advent of camera phones, everyone is snapping pictures, but no one is really seeing anything. By sketching, you spend hours observing everything, capturing a moment in time, and all the details that go with it. When sketching a boat on the Mekong, you not only sketch the boat, but the story that goes with it. The husband and wife washing their dishes, a potted plant roped to the deck, the children bouncing around with no fear of water—even the kitten they keep on board. That’s the beauty of sketching. As an artist, years later you can look back at that drawing and be transported back to that place and time.
I showcase sketches from my homes in Ireland and Philadelphia, plus a nine-month journey my wife and I took through Asia, capturing daily life in eleven countries, from the Philippines to China. The sketches are not finished illustrations, but en plein air sketches. In their rough state they present a raw energy and spontaneity. Carrying this trustworthy sketchbook along with me, I managed to sketch 90 feet under the ocean’s surface, I was chased by orangutans through a Sumatran jungle, and I was poked at by numerous children at outdoor markets throughout the world.