This is my first ever crosspost between this here blog, my personal journal, and the Glue Stick Tourist blog. So if you subscribe to all three, there will be a lot of repeats, but there’s some stuff here that’s not on either of those other places.
Travel sketch journaling is a new activity for me. I’ve always kept a written journal, and more recently I’ve been gluebooking my travels (and sharing them on the GST blog), but drawing my travels is new. And I still haven’t quite managed to merge the three into a single journal – except for special journals dedicated to specific trips, and even those contain little to no drawing.
This was my first expedition where I actually spent some time sketching my experiences. I always intend to, but this time I actually did. Nothing too extravagant – I’m still a bit shy about drawing in public – but I captured the memories. Below is a description of my adventures with their respective gluebook and sketchbook pages.
The second stage comprises a few stops, including the Westmoreland County Historical Museum and Lancaster Tavern, where I stopped for lunch. The Mary Ball Washington Museum and Library was closed, but I wandered around the buildings outside a bit.
Since the buildings were closed, I drew a little bit on the river, then sketched the graves and my oyster shell (which is still in the cup holder in my car). I’d been excited about the National Park stamps, but I think I went a bit overboard in my sketchbook, especially since I also stamped them on a piece of scrap paper to include in my gluebook. In the future, I’ll just put one or two in my sketchbook and leave the rest to cut out later.
Built in 1735 by horrible people (sorry, but when you successfully petition the colonial government for permission to cut off your slaves’ toes, you don’t get any praise from me, regardless of your other accomplishments), Christ Church is a simple but very lovely little Anglican chapel. I was raised Catholic, so having the pulpit in the exact center of the church and pews in little cubicles, facing all directions, is foreign to me.
The docents were marvelous. I appreciate anyone who thinks of me as “young,” but given that these women were easily twice my age, that’s their prerogative. The one who gave me the tour of the church was especially funny. She mentioned that the Carsons – the folks who built the church – had their own special cubicle of pews directly across from the pulpit, within which the pews were two inches deeper than the rest of the church. The docent whispered to me, “We think the Carsons had big butts.”
She also kept asking me where I was staying for the night, and didn’t seem to understand that driving home that night wasn’t a big deal. I was roughly two hours from home, and it was only midafternoon. But I guess when you’re older that becomes a very long drive.
It was getting pretty gloomy and rainy by that point, so I drove out to Windmill Point, snapped a quick photo, then headed across the bridge on Route 3 (shown in the second page above). Oi, Virginia river bridges are terrifying. I don’t generally have issues with heights, and this wasn’t nearly as scary as the Bay Bridge, but the two-way, no-median traffic was a touch unnerving.
I drew the light fixture from the Lancaster Tavern. I thought about drawing my food, but it was already getting cold as I ate it, so I’m glad I didn’t take any extra time. The pulpit from Christ Church was drawn from the brochure; I didn’t feel comfortable stopping to draw while my tour guide was there. This is one of those times when it’s good that the sketches and the collages aren’t in the same book, since my sketch is clearly inferior to the photo included on the gluebook page.
As a bonus, one more sketch page. The next evening, we journeyed into DC to see Amanda Palmer, who was on tour promoting her memoir, The Art of Asking.
We had dinner at Rosa Mexicano, home of some of the best guacamole ever, before heading to the show at the Sixth & I Synagogue, which was gorgeous. The main design on the page is a detail from the ceiling. As usual, my husband took tons of great pictures.
All in all, a truly lovely 48 hours. And utterly exhausting, but sometimes that’s just how it goes.
How do you record your memories?
My husband loves photography, so we decided to try an outing where we don’t actually spend much time together: I go sketch, and he wanders off to take pictures. Ordinarily, we would experience things together, but we decided to revisit somewhere close to home: the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum Udvar-Hazy Center. We’d both been there before multiple times, but it had been a while.
I started in a seat next to the Enola Gay, facing away from it. I did a fairly quick sketch in ink of some of the people.
Next, I wandered over to the early aircraft exhibit to sketch a Caudron G.4. I am still working on slowing down and paying attention to the relative positions of each part of the scene. With pen it’s even more noticeable because you can’t erase: once it’s there, it’s there, congratulations it’s weird-looking. But all drawing is drawing practice, and drawing in public is its own unique challenge. I can’t be sure, but it felt like a lot of people were stopping to look at the plane behind me. They didn’t really need to be standing directly beside me to see it, either.
My final stop was the space room, at the back end of the space shuttle Discovery. I’d wanted to draw the engines but it turned out I’d have needed to draw the people half of even a quarter of the size in order to fit the engines – the shuttle is just so massive! But it was a fun experiment all the same. Sketching people in real life is difficult, as they tend not to stand still for very long.
In all, this was a fun little trip. I didn’t produce the best drawings or the ones I’m most proud of, but it’s all part of the process. The more you draw, the better you get, so I keep right on drawing.