Looking out Amtrack’s over-sized train window, my three grandchildren and I decide what we’ll draw in the Travel Journals I gave them. I share my own tiny journal filled with ink and watercolor memories of Hawaii, Utah’s Red Canyons, Italy, friends and family. My favorite pages are scenes looking out windows.
I think Travel Journals have a unique way of capturing memories. Photographs may mirror reality, diaries describe with word-filled pages, but with a few wispy brush strokes and well- chosen words, my Travel Journal reflects the essence of my experience.
Unlike my talent for finding just the right word to describe a scene or feeling, my drawing abilities stopped in 5th grade when art was dropped from the curriculum. As an adult, I took art classes, hoping to learn to draw something more representative than my primitive head profile with bulbous nose and thin mouth plopped on a flat face. No luck.
So I now just sketch impressions – a few brush strokes for a waving hand, purposely wiggly lines for squared buildings, a single up-curved mouth on a face, you get the idea. Like brush strokes, I add a few spontaneous words to the page and Voila! – a treasure journal of richly-remembered memories.
As our train chugged along the tracks over the Sierras to Reno, the grandchildren started their journals like natural artists and writers.
The phonetically spelled “Traval Churnals” (!) were filled with 5, 7, and 9 year old drawings of Autumn color on the Truckee River, Papa’s profiled head, distant Sierra Nevada Mountains, close-up river rocks, ducks and later, a pink sunrise through the hotel window.
No one said “I can’t draw,” or “this isn’t good.”
I’ve been working on enjoying life more with less shoulds, less structure, less control and less things. And in my writing, working on replacing wordiness with a few brush-stroked words, trusting that readers will fill in with their own experiences and imagination.
© All materials copyright Shirley DicKard, 2012 – 2013, except as otherwise noted.