I would like to live in a version of Chamonix. It would be a beautiful and green with the luxuries of society down in the valley, with a beautiful, high and jagged horizon underpinned by vast mountain slopes and teetering spires. I would work my own schedule, and hike, ski, or climb whenever the conditions and the mood suited me.
Or maybe I would just draw what I see.
Drawing has once again become an outlet for me. I don’t draw what I see but what I wished I could see beyond a magazine photo. It’s been very satisfying in some ways, mainly because it’s relaxing and I like working towards a tangible product.
Twenty years ago I used to draw a lot more. I drew what I saw and what I imagined. I stopped because I got increasingly interested in sports and I didn’t like my high school art teacher. I never stopped because I didn’t enjoy it; now I wished I never stopped. My skills aren’t what they were, or they are inadequate for drawing peaks and shadowing icefalls.
Learning how to retrain my eye and my pencils to sketch a well-known mountain has been more difficult and frustrating that I thought it would be. This isn’t nearly the same thing as drawing spaceships and asteroids or great tall ships in the heat of battle. It’s more about lighting and shading.
I spent a lot of time looking for inspiration from other climbing artists. It seems like every climber worth following (be it on social media or tracking through the general climbing news) calls himself/herself a mountain photographer. Maybe the title is valid, but it seems that there are far fewer Jeremy Collins carrying lead pencils, or Renan Ozturks packing oversized brown paper rolls, paints and markers. Then again, even Ozturk has been taking more photographs and making more films recently. Coincidentally, Collins just came out with a new book: Drawn: The Art of Ascent.
Now, even with only a few role model for comparison, I feel very behind in my drawing skills. Of course, it doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy it.
If you’re like me — anchored to someplace with fewer features than what you need to be stimulated — then maybe some art focused on the higher ground you seek is part of the answer.
I’ll update you on my doodles later. (Maybe I’ll even gather the courage to share some more.) And I’ll be back in a little bit with some more of my discoveries about mountaineering history and adventure too.