Travel sketches (and a new Etsy print!) from Iceland and Sweden

Earlier this month, my husband and I ran away to Scandinavia for a much needed vacation. Our first stop was Reykjavik, Iceland, where we spent two days wandering the streets, exploring museums, hiking the coast, and eating fish and Skyr (Icelandic “yogurt”). It was a good place to recover from jet-lag and get adjusted to the 20 hours of daylight that Scandinavia enjoys during the summer months.

Sketches from Iceland from the travel sketchbook of Jacque Oman ClintonThen we headed off to Stockholm, Sweden, where we spent a week of glorious togetherness. We walked many miles over the course of the week, taking in the sights and culture in the land of (some of) my ancestors. sketches from Sweden - Jacque Oman Clinton's travel sketchbookI know that my travel sketches don’t capture all the events and highlights of the trip, but that’s not really the point. Rather, it’s the ACT of sketching during the trip that helps commit things to memory. Wrapped up in these images is the memory of when and where I was while making them, which subsequently calls to mind all the things that were going on around me and all the thoughts that were running through my head. There’s a lot more than meets the eye.

I turned one of the sketches from Iceland into an 8×10″ print to truly memorialize our adventures abroad. You can buy yours on Etsy, or share it with your world traveler friends!

Iceland Travel Poster art print by Jacque Oman ClintonIceland Travel Poster illustration from the Etsy shop of artist Jacque Oman ClintonAnd as an extra bonus, here are links to the work of two of my favorite illustrators who also do travel illustrations: Lizzy Stewart and Lisa Congdon.

Thanks for stopping by! Hope your summer is off to a good (GREAT!) start!

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How to Provoke a Shark Attack (Happy August)

I like August. Things feel calmer; the days, more meaningful.

Perhaps it’s the realization that summer’s end is in sight, that explains the sense of peace that descends upon me. Once August hits, it suddenly feels so natural – so obligatory even – to slow down and enjoy the moments that remain. The crickets seem louder. The sunsets seem more vivid. I settle into an easeful rhythm and let myself appreciate the natural pace of things. Time with family, meteor showers (check them out on the eve of the 11th!) – August is for savoring these things.

Which is exactly why, for the next few weeks, I’m going to keep it short here on the blog. I’ll probably have some pictures to share, and a thought or two, here and there. But I won’t be as wordy as usual. (I’m sure you’ll appreciate my brevity as much as I will. I think I’ve been talking too much, lately).

But before I go, I have a few more things to say about August:

For many people, August means one thing: the Shore (that’s the beach, to all you non-Jersey folks). Every August, when I was growing up, about half of my friends would disappear for a few weeks to go a’summering at the Jersey Shore. Those of us who remained in town spent our days at the community pool, eating candy, re-reading Harry Potter, and discussing the summer reading assignments that we hadn’t done yet. I didn’t mind not being a shore-kid. I’m afraid of sharks, you see.

I know, sharks are a supposedly silly thing to fear. But c’mon — those TEETH! I prefer to swim in water in which I can see my toes.

Anyway, I must have sharks on the brain because I made this during breakfast the other day. I call it “How to Provoke a Shark Attack”:"Sharks are Flabby"

And with that, I bid you Happy August. Be safe, be well, and don’t go insulting any sharks.

 

 

 

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Travel Sketchbook: the Southwest Edition

When I was in Sedona, AZ, a few weeks ago, I did a very quick watercolor sketch of the colorful rock hills that make the town so famous.

After returning home, I looked at that sketch and decided it needed sprucing up. So I made it into a Pueblo city, inspired by the Cliff Palace at Mesa Verde, New Mexico — a place I visited many years ago, when I was a little squirt.

Because who said travel sketches can’t be composites of different adventures I’ve had over the course of my life?  Such sketches are like slices of my brain, transcending regular time and space. They’re documents from the part of my mind where memories have been a’stir (going about their business of building up on themselves, shifting shape, and assimilating new information). I guess you could think of them as travel sketches from my trips down “memory lane”.  Which is kinda cool, I think.
New Mexican Cliff Dwelling Illustration

(watercolor and ink)

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Sunflower Tree

SunflowerTreeA few weekends ago, a dear friend and I went on a sketching adventure in Boston. We sketched here and there while wandering around enjoying the summer scenes of the city. Near Chinatown, we stumbled upon a community garden that was so extraordinary that we had to pass through it 3 times to fully soak it in. People were growing all sorts of crazy vegetables I’ve never seen before : 3-foot-long beans, GIGANTIC gourds, warty-looking melons…

…and then we saw the sunflower tree! It’s stalk must have been as fat as the trunk of a fir tree. It even had a woodpecker pecking at it. My friend and I marveled at the sunflower tree like tourists visiting the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center. In retrospect, it seemed like the perfect symbol of summer’s glory.

Since we were on our way to lunch (walking through tunnels of veggies makes a woman HUNGRY!), we didn’t stop to sketch in the gardens, but my friend snapped a photo of our tree and sent it to me later. I used it as reference for this illustration I did at home. Now it’s in my “sketch journal” to memorialize a summer day well spent in the delightful company of a kindred veggie-loving soul.

 

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Spring Sketches (And More Dandelions)

Nature is full of metaphors. If you ever need a reminder that life will be fresh and different tomorrow, walk the same path for three consecutive days and note the dandelions each time. It’s remarkable how quickly they progress from flower to seed. It’s a helpful way to gain perspective on life — In a bad mood? Don’t fret. Like a dandelion, a mood has its natural course.  It will pass like a {*cheesiness alert} dandelion puff in the wind.

Dandelions Seed Puff

dandelion puffs

Dandelions No Seeds

their seeds all blew away

Maple Seed Sketch

maple seeds scattered on all the walkways like confetti

 

Door View

enjoying the spring breeze and happy bird sounds through the screen door

 

People & Sheep

practicing sketching people (and sheep)

 

sunflowers

Sometimes I unconsciously doodle when I’m on the phone. Apparently last week’s conversations inspired sunflowers.

 

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Some “Moving” Thoughts & First Impressions

2 weeks ago, my husband and I packed up and moved. It was tiring and a little stressful and so far, totally worth it. During the packing process, I managed to make a little time (or was I procrastinating with the packing and cleaning?) to do some doodles of my “moving” thoughts (“Moving!” Get it? Eh? Eh?) . They were just light-hearted observations about the funny things you think about when you’re packing and looking at your life laid out in accumulations of stuff and boxes…

Moving_Doodle


In case you can’t read my scribbles:

Right now, life is all packing and boxes and check lists…and existential questions of “Do I need this?” and “Why do I have so much stuff?”

You laugh when you realize that you’re, without doubt, keeping the giant jar of buttons, but not sure whether to keep the computer or not…

…and sometimes you find yourself on Google Maps, checking how close the nearest Dairy Queens, Pizza Huts, and YMCA’s are to your future home, because when the prospect of the BIG moving day seems too overwhelming to handle, apparently these are the lights at the end of the tunnel.

But not really. The light at the end is much more than those! It’s just oddly exhilarating, for some reason, to know that if you have to bribe yourself to pack up, load the truck, haul off, unload, and do it all in one day, you can do it with a Blizzard.

(**Note that I don’t actually care that much for Dairy Queen OR Pizza Hut, but I find it novel to live near them now, since I have not had them easily accessible to me before…)


 

Pizza and ice cream were not the only dumb things I thought about while packing. It seems that daydreaming about such trifling matters, such as the ones below, was how I kept myself from feeling too stressed out and grumpy.

Moving_Doodle_2Anyway. That’s all in the past. We moved in, we were tired, and then we recovered. Some boxes are unpacked. Some are not.

But now we have new digs to explore! I’ve taken a liking to the colorful colonial houses in Massachusetts. Here are some doodles from the last week. I doodle houses while I eat breakfast. What a way to start each day!

Salem_Houses_4 Salem_Houses_3Salem_Houses_1 Salem_House_2

I’ve also been working on finishing up a meticulous watercolor painting that’s been in the works for a while and searching around for artistic opportunities in my new area. These Boston suburbs seem pretty happy to celebrate artists! I see good things ahead 🙂

Welp…I hope you enjoyed today’s mundane musings. See you next time!

 

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Travel Sketch: the Italian Alps

I really like the idea of keeping travel sketchbooks. Part of what I love about traveling is all the artistic inspiration I get from observing nature, people, architecture, culture — how life unfolds, in general, in places the world over. When I’m traveling, though, I end up struggling to actually keep a sketchbook because I’m so busy taking it all in. There are so many stimuli, and I feel so immersed in the experience that I can’t sit still long enough to draw it. The thought of trying to translate a slice of it onto paper overwhelms me because I’m afraid that it won’t do justice to the realtime experience that I’m having.  And of course, I’m self conscious about making something…ugly.

But whenever I DO manage to sketch places I visit, I always really appreciate it afterwards. A sketch is able to capture “the feel” of a moment and place in a way that a photo cannot. Looking back at my travel sketches brings me back to that snippet of time, and I suddenly remember details like what thoughts I was having and what the sounds were like on the street. I often say that sketching is an excellent way to slow down and appreciate, on a deep level, what is going on around you. The act of doing it helps attach you to the moment, so that when you look at the sketches later, you remember (quite viscerally actually) so, so many things that you thought you’d forgotten.

So I’m going to be less self conscious and do more travel sketches. But in the meantime, I’ve been doing some sketches based on photos I took from past travels, and it has been a worthy exercise too. It also helps me remember the experience and reminds me how much I appreciate life. As always, art brings me back to the realization that to simply exist in this world is a rich, heart-filling adventure.

This is somewhere in the Italian Alps. June 2013:

ItalySketch

 

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