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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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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