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An alternative travel journal

After spending a few intense months thinking about and teaching travel journaling workshops, I fully expected to be fired up and ready to record our family holiday to Italy.

In the run up to the break, I had been singing the praises of focusing a travel journal on just one specific theme which I find really helps with creative decision making whilst you are away. The excitement of being in new surroundings creates huge levels of overwhelm for me because I want to record everything and, whilst creating the special summer workshops, I enjoyed thinking about what I would focus in on with special attention to my favourites: Pattern and Texture, Windows and Doors, Signage and Food and Drink.

Most important of all, I wanted to notice what I noticed.

Here is the kit I decided to take with me and how it all folded up. The sketchbook is homemade. It is about A5 in size and contains sheets of off white drawing paper, 140gsm

In these pictures you can see: my homemade sketchbook, some watercolour paint squeezed into a small palette made by Daniel Smith, a range of coloured pencils both water soluble and oil based mostly made by Caran D'Ache, a Derwent drawing pencil, a Herbin rollerball pen, a white gel pen, 2 x travel brushes by Rosemary and Co., a travel water brush by Caran D'Ache, a Unipin fine liner pen with a brush tip, an eraser, a pencil sharpener. The red case is made by Lihit Lab, the pencil roll is Derwent. The pretty paper on the front of my sketchbook is made by Cambridge Imprint.

And here's what I actually used whilst I was away...

Four pencils, a crayon, a sharpener and bits of paper ripped out of the back of the sketchbook!

The trouble was I had worked hard in the run up to the hols and been so busy I was completely burnt out.

When we arrived in Italy it was much hotter than expected so Gav and I would spend the very early mornings scurrying around to gather some food for lunch and then wouldn't need to venture out in the 45 degree heat. Much of the rest of the day was spent in the shade or by a pool* complaints, it was lovely to rest my creative head and just spend time with my family, playing catch with my lovely girls in the water. I did a bit of drawing on the first morning but had no motivation to do anything else.

I'm not very good at resting so to be actually doing that was huge achievement! I even started reading the book I bought way back in January called The Art of Rest! It was very good, I learnt a lot and regaled the fam (who are 'pro' level resters, btw) with the amazing revelations on how to rest and they would just roll their eyes and reply along the lines of 'Ermm, yeeeaaaah....durrr, of course watching TV/reading/walking is restful...why didn't you know this??' (the voice in my head was also saying the same thing, dear reader!)

*(We normally do not holiday like this. It's usually a mildly stressful week camping in the rain only to come home feeling more exhausted with a tonne of damp things that need washing...a week is needed to work through this and another week to recover...)

but I digress, back to the journal...

It got to day 4 and I started to feel bad that I wasn't keeping a travel journal as planned and I pondered on this awhile (whilst drinking a nice hot cup of Yorkshire tea the heat(!) I know, know... Stupida Inglese!)

With all the resting I was doing and NOT launching myself head first into a sketchbook, I was achieving a rare bit of clarity in my head and this felt good. I decided it was ok to not do anything arty and just observe ... I made notes of things I saw, took some photos, people-watched (a fav thing of mine)...basically, no pressure.

Through this, I was able to pay attention and notice what I noticed.

What stood out to me, everywhere I went, was the myriad of ways in which the beautiful villas in Lido were disected by the trees and bushes in the gardens below. There was a dignified grandeur to them which I found so compelling, I decided that it would be nice to draw them or bits of them; nothing too ambitious, just something simple and small.

My sketchbook was annoying me so I tore out pages from the back and folded them to make a simple book then did a few little drawings partly from photos and partly from my imagination using four pencils from my extensive kit and limiting the colour. I purposely chose colours that I didn't really use/like very much and really enjoyed the quickness of the exercise which was like doodling and testing out materials.

When we got home I stamped a simple cover using a previously cut lino alphabet and typed up my scribbled notes on my old typewriter and stuck them in. Done...and done differently, which I like!

Take a peak inside....

click Here a little video tour of my finished travel book xx

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