Do you remember going on family vacations, or any family outing for that matter? What was the one question that was asked over and over, the first time usually as soon as ten minutes into the adventure? "Are we there yet?" I can see every parent reading this post either smile at the memory or shudder because the last expedition still makes them tremble at the thought. Well, I have a journey in mind for all of us. It doesn't involve anything more initially than making a cup of tea, sitting down in a comfortable spot away from all of life's distractions and letting your mind wander any where or any place you would like to be. Be open to the possibilities and just let yourself relax and do some mental travelling.
I do this little exercise frequently and have gone to the most wonderful places. I've been down to visit Liza's faeries, taken a jaunt into Mary-Jo's studio and watched over her shoulder as she made jewelry, watched Claudia paint vivid, colourful scenes on canvas. I've been to Paris and sat at a sunny, outdoor cafe table and sipped a cafe au lait whilst writing in my journal about where I've been and where I plan to go next. I've also taken a little jaunt to Japan and sat by a koi pond complete with water lilies floating on the surface and thought of Monet's many paintings of water lilies, bridges, and fields of sunflowers. Just for a little variation, I scooted down to South Africa and walked through jungle areas replete with hanging vines until I reached an opening and there I found the most . . . Well, I can't tell you everything or you won't want to see the paintings when they're finished. You see, instead of taking photographs, I take paintings. I make mental notes that turn into actual writing, scribbled on pieces of paper. If I'm feeling somewhat meticulous, I'll tape these scraps of paper into a journal that is labelled "Projects" and glance at others also taped into place. Why I don't just write into the actual journal in the first place is beyond me. I guess because it would make sense and I want to avoid becoming too predictable is the reason. As a secretary, I was famous for arriving at meetings with a notebook in my bag and took my own notes even though there was an official minute taker. I wanted to make sure that everything was documented. As an artist, I'm somewhat freer in how I approach things and don't want making notes to become a dreaded task. So, I fly by the seat of my pants and hope that I will remember every detail of the scenes that flash before my eyes. One of the few rules in mental travels is to just relax and not get involved in other activities. Just sit back, relax, and dream.
A lot of people find this difficult to do during the day when so many other activities claim their attention. I agree, it is hard to focus on the amazing length of a giraffe's neck when your toddler is swinging from the cupboard doors in search of where the biscuits are hidden this time. So, you need to find a time when you can be by yourself and just let your mind wander freely. Some find this time while doing the dishes. You know the kitchen is going to empty itself of humanity any time that a human life form, old enough to safely wash a dish, might be coerced into doing the wash up. Let that time be your mental vacation of the day. Dream freely. Go to places that you've only imagined and not seen pictures of or viewed in films. You are in charge of your travels and if you want to pop over to Paris to see couture fashion shows, then on to Italy to lounge in your villa's courtyard sipping a glass of whatever beverage you fancy and then onto Scotland to traipse through a castle, then just do it. No one has to know about your secret travels unless you care to share the details with them.
Once you've landed safely back in your own home, make some notes about what interested you. Maybe jot down some ideas that you would like to look up on the computer just so your vision is clearer and you have a better idea of what to look for the next time you visit. And you will want to visit again and again. These little journeys keep you fresh and alive, feeling like life is one big adventure. Once you have your ideas somewhat in order, try to put them down on paper or canvas. Where did you go and what did you see? Can you illustrate that quaint little cafe in Paris? If you're not sure, take a look at a few on the internet and then go back to your travels and imagine yourself sitting there, in that cafe. Imagine the smell of the coffee, perhaps the aroma of freshly baked croissants, the chatter coming from the various tables in different languages and let yourself drink in all the atmosphere, let it soak right into your core and envelop you in this coffee scented dream.
Be just as open to illustrating your dream. It doesn't have to be perfect. Maybe you would feel better starting off sketching in a book that you can tuck away out of sight. But, if you have a canvas handy, why not put your dreams on it and hang it somewhere to help you go back to that wonderful adventure any time you wish. You might even want to do a series of paintings about your travels. Have fun with this and let your imagination run without restraint wherever you want to travel. This is a wonderful exercise just before you drift off to sleep. If you're lucky, you might find your night filled with travels that even you were unaware that you wanted to take. This is part of the joy of being an artist, you are open to what your imagination brings forward and have just as much enjoyment in putting brush to canvas to bring your little scenario to life.
I've posted one canvas in progress. My recent trip to South Africa is still a canvas in progress. I've painted a background in blues on another canvas which I suspect will become a koi pond with water lilies or perhaps an underwater scene with a mermaid swimming along with all types of underwater creatures. I have a few other canvases sitting around the room drying, the background colours in place, ready for splashes of colour to tell another story of where I've been and what I've seen. There's a collage started with Victorian ladies wearing hats. I'm certain that I must have been at a tea party in the Victorian age with these interesting women. The colours are all in sepia tones and lend themselves well to the images that I've found in clip art and from my mental files. It's okay to combine the two. That's what mixed media is all about. Mix, add, create, use paint, glue, whatever it takes to put your ideas and dreams down on canvas. And, the best part of all, there's no little person asking "Are we there yet?"
I'd love to hear about your imaginary travels! If you would like to share these with us, just click on "comments" at the end of the post and a window will open for you to type your scenario into. You can submit using a name other than your own if that makes you feel more comfortable. Or, select "anonymous" from the options given. I think we would all like to hear about each other's thoughts and dreams. I know I'm not the only dreamer around. Every artist, no matter what medium they work in is an artist. I feel like I'm in good company and am happy to tell people what influenced me to paint a particular scene. In fact, I can't wait for my next adventure. I just need to add a few colours to my supply box, clean my brushes and I'm all ready to head out. And you, my friend, where are you travelling to and when you return, what will you paint?
P.S. Just a little after thought of something I'd like to share with you. My last post about finding magic seems to have flooded my psyche with images, words, thoughts. One of my "little stories" is actively in the works. I'm hoping to have the story written within a few weeks and hopefully work on the illustrations as I work on the actual story. I've put a end date on this project to make me work harder and make a dream into reality. If I'm able to keep on target (fingers crossed), the post on Thursday, December 23 will be a special one with the debut of this special story. I'm invoking a little extra magic and asking all my little faerie friends to sit on my shoulder as I write/type and illustrate. It's a fun, but demanding project that I hope you will enjoy. Remember, Thursday, December 23! Look for a special post that just might make the holiday season a little more special.