When artist Ian Sharpe left The Canberra Times in 2012 he packed his pencils and his sketchbook and set off to see the world.
While quite content in his “little corner of paradise”, at home in Kambah with his wife Gayle, travel soon became an integral part of his retirement.
“Retirement? I’ve never been so busy,” says Sharpe, his tall frame and easy smile a familiar figure.
We reminisce about former colleagues, about a personal drawing he did for me when I left on maternity leave for the first time in 2001, about a few “heated discussions” we had over the years, about the regular Sunday column he illustrated, written by Richard Begbie (if anyone can recall its name, both our fading memories would appreciate it).
And we talk about a new exhibition at Bungendore Fine Art Gallery, Wild, which he is staging with fellow artist Lyn Randall.
A selection of Sharpe’s works have been inspired by the Bob Dylan album Blood on the Tracks, others are illustrations from his 24 years at The Canberra Times, others are landscapes from his travels. His distinctive style familiar.
His lounge room walls are scattered with landscapes from the Greek Islands, of Chicago and Santa Barbara and San Francisco. He spent a month in Italy last year, sketchbook in tow.
“It’s an amazing thing,” he says, “If I was just to sit down on a chair in the middle of a piazza in Florence to take in the scene, the police would come and move me along but because I have a sketchbook, it’s okay.
“People would come over to see what I was doing. I’d have lots of conversations, some with locals keen to tell me all about the neighbourhood, but also tourists like myself who want to see what you’re doing.”
He’s about to head off to Vancouver to see his son James. A fresh sketchbook has already been packed.
Closer to home, he’s the president of the Canberra Caravan Club, taking off on rallies around the local area, to Victoria, soon up to Noosa via Broken Hill.
“I never thought I could make a career out of being an artist,” Sharpe says.
“I loved sitting down to draw, I found it a sort of meditation.
“I saw it as my contribution to the community, especially when I was at The Canberra Times. In a community, some people collected wood, others tended the goats, I made pictures.”
Wild, Bungendore Fine Art Gallery, 42b Ellendon St, Bungendore. Open every day 10am-4.30pm. Until June 30.