"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Sons of the Pioneers song from TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper column, cross-breeding metaphors and journalism and art, for readers in 150 countries.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

A journal of journaling in England

Every time we take a trip, this old newspaper man can't keep from taking notes, finding time at the end of the day to comment, to record impressions, to give a brief summary of the day's events. That, by the way, is where the first meaning of "journalism" came from, a record, or log, of the day's travel--using the Latin and now French word for "day," which is "jour."
Painting in Cambridge
So yes, I'm a journalist in many ways, and our trip to the England and Scotland was no exception, but with a couple of twists.
First, I went off and left the specific journal I'd bought for the trip. Fortunately, I had an Associated Press reporter's notebook in my bag.
And I did take another kind of journal, the handmade leather bound watercolour (in deference to my British heritage) from Mind's Eye Journals that I bought at the Paseo arts festival this year. And I brought my traveling watercolor kit, plus one other brush.
St. John's chapel
I had no idea if I'd have time to paint on our two week trip, but I was going to try. Fortunately, I did three paintings, and while they're not very good, they are mementos for me of specific days and times I will remember forever. I remember the seller of the journal telling me the journals are artifacts, and indeed they are--but then so have all my trip journals become.
Another reason the painting isn't great is that painting in England is far different that the desert southwest, where there is little moisture and lots of harsh landscapes. It's a slow transition for me to different painting.

My watercolours, and painting journal
Having been to England, Susan and I now understand how that landscape has so influenced English painting...it is moist and green. I wrote this in my AP notebook on the train on the way to Canterbury: "The English atmosphere cries out for watercolor. It's humid, fluid skies, green. It's idyllic, pastoral. The landscape drips with watercolour."
Here's the second of my three watercolours...St. John's College chapel at Cambridge University, done on the rooftop of the Varsity Hotel, virtually on the banks of the river Cam. It's late in the evening, we're getting a little sunburned, and there are lots of clouds in this distance. We've eaten, had some wine, and are listening to some Cambridge students at the next table celebrating the end of the semester. 
Yes, it's done in plein air, drying quickly, and painted quickly. I'd like to do it over, but that's later, and won't have as much meaning.
My AP notebook and transcribed notes
But at least, my doldrums of writing since we've returned seem to have ended. Here's hoping for a fresh breeze to gather and write all the thoughts and stories we encountered and experienced, recorded on those 81 pages of notes in the AP notebook and three watercolors. 

Some of my previous trip journals--the thick one is from Paris, 11 years ago,



1 comment:

  1. I love the idea of a travel journal, and to document your trip with watercolors, great idea.

    ReplyDelete