I discovered sketching a number of years ago on an ill-fated trip to the Dominican Republic. It was worthy of being a National Lampoon vacation sequel. From arriving at the wrong airport to finding that our “resort” flooded every afternoon during the tropical downpours … to the armed guard on our tiny beach … it was a disaster.
I had brought a notebook with me. Sitting poolside, I doodled. I used a Pilot fine point pen–and that has continued to be my pen of choice. I sketched a water bottle. Then my daughter Emma, reading in a chaise. My daughter Abi with Bo Derek style dreads that had cost us way too much money at the nearby Sosua beach. As the sketches filled the pages, I found a kind of peacefulness in the crazy week. The scenes became my own. I could edit, embellish. And still today, they bring me back. I find what was good in that trip. Like the time I was dozing and Em and Abi drew smiley faces on the bottoms of my toes. Or the gorgeous conch shell that I haggled for and got for cheap. Or just the simple fact that we all remember it as our best worst vacation.
Since then, I always bring a Moleskine and pen when I travel. I sketch for myself and make no pretense of being an artist. When you’re behind a camera, you’re an observer. When was you are sitting with a pen, you pull the scene into yourself so that it can emerge in lines on the blank page. I don’t burden myself with worrying about creating for anyone else. There is some of the same joy of those days back in grade school when everyone’s drawing was refrigerator-worthy.
I carry a smaller notebook these days for grabbing sketches during my close-to-home travels. As I sat in the Blackbird Cafe this morning for a lazy Saturday breakfast of omelette and Tuscan pane toast, with a Terroir decaf latte, I pulled out my trusty little red Moleskine. The staff had just placed a jar of fresh flowers at our table. Will my sketch help me remember that it was a perfect breakfast with my husband, lazy and friendly with local folks stopping by to say hello? I think so. When I take the time to not just smell the roses, but sketch them, life slows down enough to savor the moment. Then and again.
As for photos, I love to shoot as well. How do you save and savor your special times?
photo and sketch BF 7.30.11