Life in a sketchbook ….

sketchbooks and paintI have a confession to make…I have a habit I am not willing to kick!

It’s both relaxing and challenging. If I’ve been away from it…upon returning I feel becalmed! When I settle into my habit after an absence, I say…”now the real vacation begins.”

I can’t really say how long ago it was that the first tenuous marks in a blank book evolved into the repeated act of journaling in a sketchbook: observing and reflecting, drawing and/or painting. But sometime around 1980, when my family moved to the feet of Mt. Washington in Northern New Hampshire, I had already stuffed my sketchbook into a backpack with pencils, pens, and watercolors, camera and binoculars. The backpack became my traveling studio for day use and foot travel, on the Appalachian Trail, in the Boundary Waters, in Algonquin Provincial Park and the Sylvania Wilderness; in a canoe or at my feet in our pickup truck. The bottom of the original backpack has long worn through and the pack replaced. Multiple journals are now a record of where I’ve been, what I’ve seen and sometimes, personal reflections. Now, as the years and the books pile up, I revisit the pages and feel closeness to friends now past or hear the sounds of waves, of birds or the wind in the trees of northern Scotland, Canada, and the U.S. east coast to west. The books are also a record of my exploration with various art media. Somewhere along the way, I declared a rule not to tear pages out of the books, that’s when I discovered gesso which enabled me to recover an otherwise hopeless start! This habit of maintaining sketchbooks has created a family resource, from solving such riddles as “when did we travel there last” to harvesting sketches for creating gifts. This habit keeps my mind focused on the ever changing landscape…there is never a dull moment. So…

What do I grab when I go even for a simple trip? Yup…you got it…my traveling studio, because I never know what I might see that needs to be remembered!

– Melisse Carr