On the Road 2015 – January – Colorado to Texas

One thing that is really noticeable to me and what attracts me on road trips are the repetitive patterns that go for miles and miles and miles.

Tracks disappearing

In January we headed south for a road trip from Colorado to Texas.  Rather than take the giant interstates we took the smaller Highway 287. This highway takes us through the more rural, less developed parts of the states we crossed. I don’t know if these patterns happen in the east but in the Southwest and the West here is what you see.


Coal Train

TRACKS: And right along beside the trains are more tracks:


TELEPHONE/POWER POLES: And the power poles and the frontage roads.


AGRICULTURE: Silos holding grains for transport at the train sidings:


 Irrigation Pivots when placed in the fields seem to be about 1/4 mile-long.


Up close they also make interesting patterns:

Pivot close up

FENCE POSTS: Miles and miles of fence posts in every variety. My favorite are these old wooden posts seemingly made from railroad ties.

Fence posts

I am taking these photos from a moving vehicle and will be using them in my different sketchbooks, using different types of mediums such as water color crayons, pencils and pans. And I can’t wait to try my LYRA Graphitkreide Crayons on those silos…most likely you will see some of these later on in this very blog.

In the meantime here is a water color of the giant wind generators (heck – I didn’t even mention the wind generator installations) that are now resident in miles and miles of rural (i.e. empty/underpopulated) plains.WindgeneratorsX

How do you preserve your road trips? Do you take road trips? Do you take pictures and then paint (etc) later? Or do you go from memory? Let me know in the comments.

The Traveling Art Journal Part 9 – Music

Once again we are visiting my Family Reunion held on Whidbey Island last summer. It is very interesting how the same event evokes different – and then again – similar responses.

Music night Sister II

McGuinn & McGuire still a’gettin’ higher in LA you know where that’s at – and no one’s gettin’ fat, ‘cept Mama Cass..

Saturday night, after an afternoon of Bar-B-Que and Beach we gathered on the deck of the biggest beach house and sang everything we could think of the words. And when words failed us we got out the smartphones for lyrics. We sang everything from 60’s rock-n-roll to Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah.

Our family has always been full of singers. My immediate brothers and sisters, encouraged by our mother, sang whether we were good or not. And given that practice always makes better – most of us carry a tune with elan. I was surprised to find that not all the branches of cousins sing. The cousins from my mother’s side – sing. Now that I think of it – my dad sang like a donkey braying – but given that he loved my mother – he did sing with us.


Sister II found a whole sheet of musical note stickers at one of the thrift stores – so we both have them on the pages. It looks funny when you see them together, but these two journals live thousands of miles apart and will rarely be seen together. We also had a small star stamp and this too, made an appearance. This page (above) has had more singers added, but the pictures included the children so I did not post the finished page. I took a limited pallete of PanPastels for the reunion and the gold on the second page above is the new dark gold PanPastel


As with all travel you have to carry anything acquired – so ephemera needs to be small, lightweight and cheap enough to discard the extras.  When shopping add in thrift stores, farmer’s markets and garage sales to get some local flavor. If anyone will be joining you by car, have them bring the heavy/bulky stuff and pay for your share.

Supplies: A journal, glue stick, scissors, tape, watercolor crayons, water brush, pens, metallic pens, matte gel medium, heavy gel medium and PanPastels (if you have room).

Ephemera: Napkins, maps, business cards, post cards, pressed plant materials, very flat, small rocks.

Thrift Store Finds: Old jewelry, old postcards, rubber stamps, music note stickers, colorful or theme napkins, other stickers and ribbon.

Tourist Information Stops: Local maps, Stickers – often bumper sticker size, brochures with local names in fancy fonts, key chains or other dingle-bobs.

Add in at home: Printed photos from the trip. Relevant treasures (i.e. old photos, postcards and fabric) you have at home.


Traveling Art Journal with Hut-n-Trek


Hut-n-Trek has a new post up with more photos of our scouting trip in the Austrian Alps.Click on the links to see us while we figure out if we can do Art Journaling Workshop Treks there.


Flip Side Friday #17 – Feeling Full

The Friday after Thanksgiving and I am full –

Full of Gratitude, Full of Food, Full of Family and Friends,

Full of Satisfaction in this Past Year.

Doing the Traveling Art Journal test-class with my female relatives at our family reunion had  some unexpected bonuses. This is what I love about art – you get the art, but in addition to the art you get the bonus! In this case multiple bonuses!

Making art, especially making art with others, has many outcomes and unexpected bonuses. One bonus I have come to expect is that you get to know someone on an entirely different level than you have before. This is especially wonderful when the others are sisters, cousins, sister-in-laws, nieces and you name it. I have come to expect the unexpected, but I didn’t expect what I got this time.

Procession 1

Memorial Procession

But first a story, mostly a story about my family.

Our mother died four years ago this month near her home in North Central Washington, a location that is damn near impossible to travel to in the winter.Her children and other family are spread far and wide around the country. So there was no family memorial service and Sister #3 was in possession of Mom’s  ashes.

When we decided to have the reunion, Sister #3 and I (#4) thought that she should bring the ashes as this might be the only time all her children would be together. Surely we could sneak in a 20-minute outing for just the immediate family to send her ashes out to sea.

Some of us spent an entire week on the Island and some just spent a long weekend, but suddenly it was Sunday the last day and we hadn’t scattered any ashes. For the reunion we had a Brunch scheduled for Sunday at the same beach where our cousins had left their Mother’s (our Aunt’s) ashes in 2006. We figured that after lunch our Mom’s children would wander a ways away and let her go.

Everyone had mostly digested the Sunday brunch when, in order to honor all of our mother’s – as they seemed so present –  I read the Mary Oliver poem Mindful.  Remember for our generation our dad’s and uncles were mostly away on a day-to-day basis bringing in a paycheck. That generation of women in our family were the ones who raised the entire clan (almost) that was gathered on that deck. And they did it in a Mindful Manner and most of us have long memories of the beaches of Whidbey Island with our mothers and often a cousin or two.

Then we said that we, the immediate family, were going to stroll down the beach and leave our Mom’s remains where she spent the happiest years of her life, Whidbey Island.  We finished up with the eating and started gathering to go. Almost everyone there – thought they were the immediate family – so imagine this quiet beach where 40 plus people are trooping along. What would you think? The few others on the beach who encountered us asked “Friends? Family? Church Group?” We reached a good spot and said what was to be said and all were at peace. All of us, from her oldest daughter and nephew to her newest great-grandchildren, Mom/Aunt Sandy/Gramma Sandy/Bram was honored and memorialized. And in doing so we also honored and remembered the other aunts and uncles who have left us.


When I got home from the reunion I started bugging the sisters to send me pictures of their Traveling Art Journals as they finished them up at home. I had taken photos of as many pages as I could before everyone dispersed, but of course we needed to add photos and details etc. What they sent back were pages and pages of wonderful art that brought a different perspective to an already full experience.

But what I didn’t expect was that my sisters made pages of our Mom’s Memorial! This is so much more of a memorial than any service (for me anyway). My sister’s personal view of what went on at the beach that afternoon – the love that was present and who our mother was for this whole clan…This was the unexpected bonus of all bonuses!


 Sister II captured the reading, Mindful by Mary Oliver.


 Sister #1 made a double page spread. The left side shows the Memorial. The right side shows Mom with her favorites; her family, her career at the Forest Service; her favorite restaurant and her final home in Oroville, Washington.


Sister #1 smudged cotton fluff with charcoal to represent the ashes returning to the sea.

There are more pages and more memories, but in the interest of the length of this post and confidentiality of all of us these are all I am sharing today.


Can you find yourself here?

 What bonuses have you come across with your Traveling Art Journals?

“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.”
Albert Schweitzer

Gathering Experiences for Your Journal – Lori W. in Austria


To have a Traveling Art Journal you will need to  –  travel! On a trip you can  gather as many experiences as you gather ephemera and have art supplies at home. Hut-n-Trek  has a couple of new posts about our hut-to-hut treks in the Austrian Alps last month. Click on the link to see us as we figure out if we can do Art Journaling Treks there.

Do you see any place you would like to visit? Or sketch?