How've you been? I'm pretty good. You know, busy busy. Traveling a lot. No, I don't mind traveling at all, I'm just jet lagged still, but good otherwise. Fall is beautiful here, it's been a real Indian summer of sorts. It's been nice. No, I still don't have all my stuff back. I mean, I got some money back from our insurance company, which was great, but I had to wait close to two weeks until I got my credit card in the mail. I was in New York without any cash, which was an interesting experience to say the least. But I made it back, and at least I didn't do too much shopping, eh? Haha. Not that I had much time, but still. I spent a lot of time in the hotel watching CNN - got the state of the world is depressing, right? So, anyhow. How have you been?
Last weekend I went to Brussels to visit friends for the first time in almost a year. I hadn't been to the city because somehow I just couldn't deal with it emotionally, but now I felt ready and eager to see my friends, colleagues, and the city again. I almost cried of joy, walking out of the station. Which is surprising, because Brussels train stations smell like piss, mostly. Piss and waffles, to be exact. But you know me, I am nothing if not a little dramatic at times - and drama I would get.
After dinner and drinks, my friends and I were having one last drink. I went to the bathroom for a minute, came back, and my backpack was gone. With everything in it. Money, passport, phone, laptop, creditcards, ipod, books, sunglasses, my favorite clothes, makeup, medication, tickets, art supplies, and my journal. This journal.
After hours and hours of waiting and finally being able to leave a statement at the police station, I went to spend the night at my friend D's house. It's a crazy feeling to have nothing on you but the clothes on your back. If you're expecting me to say it felt 'liberating' - wrong blog, dude. I felt absolutely lost and emotional about someone else touching MY stuff with their dirty hands. I told you it would get dramatic.
Fortunately I watched a lot of Disney when I was little and this story ends well, with a knight in shining armor and fruit smoothies.
When Jochem came to pick me up the next day (he drove all the way down here), he had good news: the police had called him to tell him they had found most of my personal belongings in a little park next to the police station, a few blocks from where my backpack had been stolen. Those personal belongings included my journal! We went out for smoothies to celebrate, drove home, and I collapsed and lived happily ever after.
I've been feeling better (my flu has a great work ethos and only grabs me on weekends and holidays) and I have been traveling for work quite a lot. It's been busy but good. There are a lot of moments in my life right now where I take a big breath in and feel insanely happy and blessed to be where I am at. My life is made out of pretty amazing stuff and I'm enjoying every bit of it.
It's been full on fall here in Holland this week and fall means flu and phlegm. I know, I know. You live for these kinds of blog posts. Fortunately, over-sharing is my middle name. Also, that's how Mr. Floor got the flu. We're like communists, sharing everything even if it makes no sense and it takes away your will to live.
In any case, these were again done in watercolors and Copic markers and I had real trouble getting the colors just right, but I just couldn't be bothered.
Keeping an illustrated travel journal of your journey can be incredibly rewarding and romantic. It is an amazing souvenir and the process of creating will help you be more attentive to the little things and big sights you'll see on your trip. You'll remember and appreciate everything around you that much more.
It can also be hard and annoying. Why would you spend all this time drawing and sitting around when there's so much to do and see? Why carry around a notebook and paints and pens, when you can just bring your phone and take a quick snapshot?
Good point and this is why I believe in having a good travel-ready journal kit with you wherever you go.
My Travel Journal Kit
- a set of Caran d'Ache gouaches
- a small box of Winsor & Newton watercolors with a small brush
- my journal (I currently use an A5 cloth-bound hardcover journal from Seawhite of Brighton)
- some watercolor postcards (most brilliant invention ever) from CASS art
- a few Bic mechanical pencils (those cheap, plastic ones)
- Micron pens (I prefer the 0.5 width)
- a tiny plastic bottle of water (33 cl). We got this one from an airline, I drank the fancy water and refilled it.
The kit fitted comfortably in my small backpack and weighed next to nothing.
Top Travel Journal Tips
- Draw a little every day - and don't forget to bring your kit! It'll help you to quickly get into a habit of observing the world around you more closely.
- Take your time and make sure your travel companion knows what he or she is in for! Nothing is worse than feeling rushed when you feel like drawing, so discuss this in advance. Jochem usually brings a book to read (or occasionally joins me by doing some drawing or writing of his own!), but you can also just agree to meet each other again in an hour or so. Finding a comfortable drawing spot on a terrace of a wine bar usually helps, too.
- Just pick something to draw, anything. In the picture above I'm drawing one small part of a gorgeous old Roman ruin. It had much better parts and the view of the ocean on the other side was no doubt better as well, but I picked this bit of wall because, well, there was a bench in front of it and there weren't a million tourists around taking selfies. Looking back at the postcard I drew there, I remember the whole place, not just the wall, so mission accomplished, I think.
- Write down in your journal what you did that day if you really didn't have time to draw (or just didn't feel like it). It'll help you remember - plus it'll make your trip seem that much longer.
- Be flexible. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn't. And always bring along a headlamp when you go camping in a tiny dark little tent and you want to be artistic after sundown. You sexy thang!
I made a little zine about how to keep a journal on the road. It's not huge, but it's got some good tips and fun illustrations! You can buy it here, in my Etsy shop.
Because I love paying my bills and I did not throw a tantrum like a two year old, like, at all.
I would actually never say 'bits and bobs', but in preparation of our move to London I'm trying to catch up on British slang. Obviously, this will most likely turn out to be a disaster in which I say mostly Irish or Australian things in entirely wrong contexts with a terrible faux-British accent (one person actually said my British accent sounded like a drunk American trying to speak French, but hey - I happen to like Americans who at least try to speak French so whatevs, brah) and lose more friends than make them, but failure is the key to success, no?
Anyhow! Here are some bits:
I'M WORKING ON A COOKBOOK with the talented and inspirational Kyra de Vreeze!!!
We're keeping most of it a secret, but it's going to be an e-book, in English, available online starting sometime late September. The book will feature quick, easy, and tasty recipes (99% vegan & gluten free), tons of information on health benefits and nutritional values, plus plenty of essential culinary inspiration. All of the recipes and photography are done by Kyra, who has written three amazing books (two of which I have and use often) on food as finger-licking medicine. I am working on the accompanying illustrations and layout, which means I get to draw food all day! Yay!
I'm also working on a private project - ILLUSTRATING A CHILDREN'S BOOK written by my brother's father-in-law. It's a time consuming process as I am determined to make the backgrounds look amazing and well, that means I spend most of my free time drawing leaves. It's a miracle I still know what those look like. Obviously, they look like multi-colored stripes. We'll first just print copies of the book for ourselves, but if there's demand - who knows!
And now for some bobs!
- Loved this podcast about the history of color. Took me right back to my art history education! Worth a listen.
- Fascinated by Sarah Glidden's blog post on panel process. Glidden (who you may know from her graphic novel How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less or other pieces of graphic journalism) shares her working process with us and it's just amazing. So much thought and attention goes into each frame - it's humbling.
- I thought this post on 5 ways to improve your coloring by Melanie Gillman on Illustration Friday may interest you. Pretty post AND very useful!
So, that's all for today, but fret not - I've also been working on a boatload of new journal pages that I'll share with you soon. (If you wonder why I'm so productive these days, it's because I've developed a cocaine habit, obviously. No, I kid. I'm way too cheap to maintain those kinds of habits. It's vacation, folks, vacation. It's the cocaine of the people who are scared of drugs, haven't you heard?)
Happy weekend, all!
How is everyone? I hope you're all magnificent! We just came back from our delicious Italian adventure (gelato! pasta! pesto! gelato!) and you'll be glad to know I spent a lot of time drawing this trip.
The drive to Italy is quite long, so we decided to stop over in Annecy, France on our way there. The weather was terrible, but Annecy is a lovely little town and I definitely want to come back for a weekend and explore it further. Next day we set up camp in Tellaro, Italy, on the Gulf of Poets. Sounds so romantic right? I thought so too, until I read this story about Shelley drowning and being eaten by fish before his body was dug up from the sand and burned on the beach in a brain-fizzling fire. This detail was in our guidebook. Wtf, folks. Anyway, our campsite overlooked the Mediterranean and it in fact was quite idyllic.
Our first day in Tellaro, we spent on the 'beach' (mostly rocks) and thought about languages and they way they sound.
The Gulf of Poets is near the Cinque Terre, so we had planned to go there and do some hiking, but once we got to Lerici where we wanted to catch the boat there, the weather had turned dreadful. We turned back and drove to Genua instead. Pretty city, but a little dirty and very busy, so after visiting some palaces and having lunch, we decided to picknick in Portofino for dinner. Portofino is supposedly one of the most picturesque harbors in the world and is dominated by big yachts and tan people in white clothes and loafers. We watched the sun go down behind the multicolored houses while eating ciabatta bread with artichoke and pistache pesto. Heaven.
The sun was back on the 25th and we decided to grab the boat to the Cinque Terre and do some hiking. The Cinque Terre are five adorable little villages on the rugged Italian Riviera. The surrounding area is a Unesco-protected national park, and officially the villages are not reachable by car (although it doesn't seem like this is true any longer). You can tour the villages by boat or train, but you can also walk the journey. Or so we thought. Apparently a flash-flood took out half of the paths a couple years ago and instead of 5 hours, the new trail (which was much steeper and longer) would take almost twice as long. Because we depended on the boat to take us back home before dusk and because my knees were not loving all the steps, we did about 5 hours of the trail (3 out of 5 villages) and did the boat/train route for the rest. It was a sizzling hot day with some amazing views, rewarding mountain tops, and a glass of local wine at the end of it.
Camping just wouldn't be the same without the tent flooding, of course. During the night, our (borrowed) tent gave up the will to live and broke in the heavy rain. Everything was wet and in the morning we evacuated everything in garbage bags and fled to nearby Sarzana, where we walked around, had some coffee, enjoyed the sunshine, and eventually bought a new tent. It was a blessing in disguise, as the new tent was much bigger and so much more comfortable.
Venezia! Jochem had never been, so we had to make a stop here. The city was lovely as ever, but the camp site was terrible. Even though I had been there before and hadn't remembered the camp site as such, it was dirty and swampy and the mosquito's were killing me. I was quite miserable for a little bit, but Venice was worth it.
The camp site was so terrible that for some reason we left a day too early - by accident! We had the whole journey planned out and camp sites reserved everywhere, so our next stop actually wasn't available for the night and we decided to drive towards Verona and see what was available. We ended up staying at a farmhouse (or 'agriculturismo') called Alle Torricelle, which was just amazing. It was just the most gorgeous place, with an impressive 'certified' herb garden. All the snacks and food were home made by the matron of the house, and we were shown around the herb garden by her. Verona was also a pleasant surprise. Such a pretty place and definitely worth a visit.
The last week was spent on Lake Garda where we took three days of windsurfing classes. It was much easier than we anticipated, and so much fun. We also visited some little towns and ancient ruins while there, as the area surrounding Lake Garda is just gorgeous. I didn't do much drawing because we were out on the water all day, and I was working on some watercolor post cards (more on those later).
And then we got home. We did stop over in Strassbourg on our way back, but I didn't do any drawing then either, as I had to get back to work the morning after.
I'm happy that I got to do quite a lot of drawing on this trip. I think usually my trips are a lot shorter and I feel like I would rather spend time doing things than drawing them, but this vacation had a nice mix. I'll write another post on my travel art kit and how to work outside, but in general let me say it was great to draw 'in the moment' more than usual.
Have you been drawing on your trip? Please share, I LOVE travel journals!
See you all in August!
Felt like bustin' out the markers this week, so here's some real color for you, folks! As always, click the images to enlarge the picture and let me know what you think in the comments below!