|Greg doing his thing in a train in Japan.|
After seeing my posts about our travels in the UK, a reader
asked me what my husband Greg is doing all that time that I’m sketching. That’s
a question that I get asked frequently by friends who know how much I love to
sketch and how much we both love to travel. Specifically, Jean is interested
because she’s planning to attend the USk symposium next year and wondered how
to manage such a trip with a non-sketching spouse.
“How and when do you meet up with your spouse during the
Symposium? What parts of the Symposium can your non-registered, non-sketching
spouse attend and not attend? How is your spouse received by other sketchers?
And how do you plan a trip that pleases both of you, so he isn't just wafting
about waiting for you to be finished with the Symposium so you can move on to
the rest of the trip?” All great questions, Jean!
The easy and short answer is that Greg is a photographer, so
our interests are highly compatible. Although certainly we enjoy spending time
together while traveling, we also want to go our separate ways and meet later
at a designated time and place. “Done, where u?” is a text message we exchange
If he didn’t have photography as a hobby, it might be more
difficult to manage traveling together so that I still have time for myself to
sketch. But I’ve also traveled or day-toured quite a bit with non-sketching
friends and family members and have still managed to get in sketching time
without being annoying (at least, no one has told me I am ☺).
|Greg doing his thing in Bath.|
There’s a reason for that: I can be very fast. If there’s
one thing I’ve learned from sketching on location regularly, it’s the ability
to manage my sketches based on how much time is available to me. (My correspondent role in Manchester
certainly helped me hone that skill.) I wouldn’t want to make people wait 30 to
60 minutes for me to do a typical sketch. But no one seems to mind waiting 10
minutes, and often they welcome the opportunity to sit on a bench and rest
while I do a quick one. If I know I have only 10 minutes, then 10 minutes is
all I need.
Attending the symposium with a non-sketching partner need
not be an issue, either. I talk to other symposium participants who are
traveling with partners and keep my ears open. During the Barcelona symposium,
Greg met another sketcher’s husband, and the two of them decided to do some
touring together one day. (I regret to this day that I missed out on a visit to
Parc Güell, but I had workshops to
attend!) A similar opportunity came up in Manchester, so I let Greg know about
In Paraty, a small town that’s easy to navigate, I always
left him a copy of my workshop map and timetable so that he would know where I
would be each day, and we sometimes met up for lunch between workshops. In
Manchester he joined me for lunch at the Manchester Museum where I had just done
some sketch reportage, and afterwards he enjoyed the exhibits while I moved on
to the next event.
|Greg doing his thing in Rio de Janeiro.|
At all the symposiums, Greg joined me at dinners and
drink-and-draws with other sketchers, who enjoyed having another “victim” to draw
(Greg got used to appearing in lots of sketchbooks!). And sometimes I skipped
social events because after a long day of non-stop activities, it was nice to
have a quiet dinner for just the two of us.
In regard to Jean’s specific questions about which
activities spouses might be allowed to participate in, that’s something that
has improved over time. In Barcelona, a number of spouses wanted to attend the
closing reception, but there was no formal process in place for them, which led
to people feeling like they had to sneak in the back door. In Manchester,
however, the symposium staff anticipated this issue and simply sold reception
tickets at the door to cover refreshments.
In Paraty, which didn’t sell out and therefore had attendee
passes to spare, I bought Greg a low-cost “Sketcher” level pass, which allowed
him access to the central facility where attendees hung out between workshops,
used the restrooms, grabbed a snack and used Wi-Fi. That pass also allowed him
to attend the receptions.
Achieving the right sketcher/non-sketcher balance during
travel is not as easy as when you and your partner are always together. But
having separate experiences gives each of you a different perspective and often
enhances the travel experience as a whole. And balance is the operative word – just
like all the other parts of a relationship.
If you have a non-sketching partner, what kinds of things do
you do to achieve balance during travel?
Like Jean, if you’re thinking of attending a symposium for
the first time, you might want to check out the post I wrote after Barcelona. After that first symposium, I learned a lot of practical matters
as well as how to manage expectations.
|We always eat ice cream together!|