Alaska 2012: South Baranof Wilderness - Sketching from a Sea Kayak, a photo by apple-pine on Flickr.
I applied for Artist-In-Residence position with Voices of the Wilderness program (which is run through U.S. Forest Service in Alaska) somewhere in spring. And pretty soon I received a phone call about going to South Baranof Wilderness Area - the trip would take place somewhere in August-September.
The plan was to get to Sitka and form there - to the wilderness by boat or by float plane. Then - travel through Necker Bay Area (it's a fjord in the Baranof Island) using kayaks as main transportation. US Forest representative would guide us and as a team we would do some monitoring work (look for presence of people, check out, clean and dismantle possible illegal camp sites and structures, monitor solitude, check for invasive plants). And I would have a chance to draw in a really wild area! (and prepare something special as a result of this trip - more about this later ;)
My general understanding was that sketching in a kayak would be WET. And it will probably be wet all the time during the trip. But I should be able to do some more-or-less normal sketching during breaks and in the evening if it's not raining too hard and if I can find a nice tree :)
And this assumption was more or less correct - except that by the time we got to camping site it was usually late enough for bugs to eat me alive and almost right after them dew covered everything (we had several days of sunshine - which - I was told - is a very very rare thing in Alaska - and especially in South Baranof Wilderness as it gets an average 200 inches of precipitation a year...). So evening work (or sometimes early morning as I was falling asleep pretty quickly after a day filled with new experiences) was to sort through all kinds of sketches I've done throughout the day (and I had 2 smaller sketchbooks in different pockets plus loose watercolor sheets in a dry bag plus Rite-in-the-rain book), then tape them in my main book and add comments.
Sketching in a kayak was accomplished with the help form the Rite-in-the-Rain paper and it worked GREAT! I tried using different pencils: color pencils, oily peel-off china marker, regular #2 pencil and water soluble pencil and they all worked great in their very special way!
But sketching in a moving kayak has to be fast or super fast - and as a result I have only these to share.
I think my favorite tool was water-soluble graphite pencil - I used my fingers and ocean water to move graphite before it set in and added more details over it - and if I did not push my marks with my fingers they would set pretty well on the paper and stay even if sketchbook is dropped in the water (repeatedly :)
I cannot show you color with these sketches - but believe me - it was gorgeous!
I tried to learn about upcoming experience in wilderness as much as possible and assemble right tools. But nothing can prepare you as well as experience - so I feel that next time I would be much better composed as I learned A LOT ;)
Tomorrow I will show you sketches from the wilderness which were done without the help of a kayak :)
Oh - and scroll to the bottom of this post to see my sketch about bear encounter :)
(click on images to see them larger on Flickr)