Monday, September 24, 2012
Journaling on the Open Road
“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.” -- Martin Buber
"I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train." -- Oscar Wilde
Travel journaling and travel journals can be wonderfully diverse. A journal may be as simple as a written diary of one's voyage, or it may be all sketches of the day-to-day experience. It may include photos, or not, as the traveler chooses. But, most of all, it is a work that is free to change and evolve as the scenery and experiences change and evolve before the very eyes of the adventurer.
Prior to our move from Texas to Maryland I began giving thought to what form of journal I wanted to create to commemorate the move. I checked out the structures available in the local art supply shops and eventually settled on a large (11" x 15"), hardbound book containing handmade Indian watercolor paper with delightfully irregular deckles and a rather pronounced Rough surface texture (a bit of a departure for me as I generally tend to gravitate to Hot Press or, at the very least, Cold Press watercolor papers).
The richly textured cover is a warm burnt sienna with glowing copper highlights.
As we finished packing the last of our household goods and paying final visits to our friends and favorite venues in San Antonio, I also busied myself with deciding on the format and image approach I wanted to use in this particular carnet de voyage, and again I departed from my norm -- deciding to write it as Celtic manuscript... dip pens and all.
Lightly coating the Japanese lace with acrylic sealant & allowing to dry will increase the stencil's durability.
I "tempered" each page by overlaying it with a sheet of handmade Japanese Awagami lace paper (which had a wonderful open weave and small maple leaf pattern), and stenciling with a natural sponge and green watercolor.
Maps were created of each day's drive. The enlarged capitals that marked the beginning of a paragraph or a point of interest on the maps were drawn with waterproof inks while the rest of the text was produced with watercolors.
Our son accompanied me in the truck, while my daughter rode with my wife in the car. My son was so ecstatic about the road trip that he asked if we could leave the radio off. So we talked all the way from Texas to Maryland -- about Life, the Road, and all the wonderous things we saw and did along the way. (And I learned in so many new ways what a marvelous little man this little fellow is.)
Along the way we used cell phones to communicate and to make spontaneous decisions (where to stop for a picnic lunch, which unique and obscure roadside attractions to visit, etc.), and we strictly adhered to our rule: always stop well before evening so the kids could go swimming before dinner (a little history lesson, a little adventure, and a lot of fun).
We were particularly drawn to the more eclectic attractions (like the Casey Jones Museum) and our daughter had enough room to convert the back seat of our car into a rolling studio and busied herself with creating collages of the things she saw along the way.
As we progressed, we experienced a change in altitude. And with the change in altitude we went from pine forests to hardwood, and were observant of the extravagant changes in color.
We had no timetable to keep, no daily mileage requirements to meet. So we stopped at every rest area that offered a historical marker or a picturesque slice of nature.
Most pages in my journal were done as "one offs" -- focused on a single day's events, and intended to more or less stand alone. But this two-page spread was designed to feature the official flowers of each of the states we passed through along the way. And, since both my wife and I were engaged with driving the vehicles, my son took on the role of official photographic chronicler for the trip -- even using the occasional Dutch Oblique composition as we journeyed up the Shenandoah Valley.
Even a quick stop for lunch at a nondescript eatery became a fun photo op for "the Crew".
Every new trip, every new journal, is a fresh opportunity for creative fun. You can explore a technique, a creative path, that you've seen before. Or you can get out your creative tools and cut a new path through virgin jungle -- going where no one has ventured before. The choice is yours. So, start making your plans and pack your kit. Hit the road and have some fun. And, if you experience the unexpected along the way (no, WHEN you experience the unexpected along the way), let Serendipity be your guide.
Product note: If you're interested in exploring the creative potential of the Indian handmade watercolor sketchbooks and/or the Japanese handmade lace paper, they are available at Art Supplies and Provisions Online.