Having spent some days ambling around the old part of town, and surveying the rooftops of Caceres from the apartment balcony, I decided it was time to start something that I haven’t done for years: to sketch. I had asked the apartment owner when we did the tapas tour where could I get drawing materials – and she was so excited because she’s studying fine arts here as well as teaching English. Anyway, found the papeleria she’d pointed out that night and made my needs known to the proprietors. “Hablo espangol un poco” is always a helpful opener, although my experiences in making needs known to locals have always been received with patience and good humour.
The old part of town has so many interesting angles and alleyways, towers and arches, I spent quite some time looking for a scene where I could sketch uninterrupted and without people standing around watching my attempts. Controlling a pencil requires a completely different way of working with your hand, being aware of it and controlling it as compared to rattling away on a keyboard.
At last I found what I was looking for: a narrow alleyway curving away to the right, with a sense of depth and interest but not too complicated. Getting the perspective right was not an issue: bulging walls, crooked rooflines and windows at all heights and angles enabled me to get the sketch looking quite reasonable. An elderly fellow, whose gummy observations were difficult to understand (he was carrying his upper dentures in one hand along with his walking stick, and gesticulating with the other hand) decided that I had to be from Alemagnia – why else would I be sitting on the ground drawing? Shook his head in disbelief when I said “soy australiana” and tottered off down the alleyway.
My next sketch was of a little carved elephant ornament, which has a smaller carved elephant within it … just to make it interesting. I was happy with that too. Now I’ll be carrying my sketching materials with me all the time.