Saturday, February 2, 2013


I doubt if I'll ever make it back to France in person again, but that doesn't prevent me from taking frequent mental vacations to all my favorite spots. I was able to relive the entire river cruise through Provence, with added stops in Paris and Marseilles, simply by sharing my stories and photos with you in dozens of posts here on my blog, and I take little "trips" back to those posts on a regular basis.

I also revisit these places when I stumble across them in books and movies. For instance, when I read Sacre' Bleu, by Christopher Moore, it was as if I was standing right alongside the book's characters, seeing what they were seeing, for I had actually been to many of those places in Provence on our "trip of a lifetime!"

Just recently I discovered yet another way to relive and savor those experiences -- travel by pen and brush!

My problem with travel sketching has always been that it just takes too long. Your travel companions get tired of standing around waiting for you to finish your sketches all the time, so photos were just quicker and easier. Then I stumbled across an article by Jacqueline Newbold in the July/August issue of Cloth, Paper, Scissors. In it she talks about her technique for preparing several backgrounds in her travel journal at once -- blocking the pages off with strips of artists' tape, then spreading a watercolor wash of about three different colors across the entire page, tape and all. As she travels around she fills the blocks, one at a time, with a quick pencil sketch, maybe adding a bit of color if she has time, sometimes just going back over the lines with permanent ink. She takes photos as well, so if she wants to add more detail to her sketches later, she can refer to those. She can even scribble notes on the tape, to remind her of details or locations. When all the blocks on a page are filled she removes the tape and is left with a crisp white border around each sketch, a perfect place in which to do some journaling, no?

When she mentioned referring back to one's photos, it gave me the idea of doing a few pages of my own, based on the photos I took in Provence -- maybe even do a few "themed" pages, like "the balconies of Provence" or "the cafes of Provence." Mais oui! J'adore ca!

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