The travel sketchbook, or carnet de voyage, is HUGE in France. There are festivals devoted to them in lots of places. Artists come from all over Europe to show off their work. I’ve now been to two, and am booked for a third. It’s so inspiring to wander around, seeing hundreds of different kinds of work, gathering ideas, not to mention materials and samples at the shop!
Not all the photos below are very good, but they give a good flavor of the variety of sketchbooks on display.
Friend Alice and I (and Psychokitty, of course) went to Dresden in November. I had always wanted to see this city that was bombed to smithereens in the Second World War.
The city had a melancholy feel. Large parts of it were completely destroyed, and the historic parts have been built back in their original Baroque style. So something about it just felt fake, or like a ghost of its former self.
The Christmas market was being set up, but it didn’t open until after we left (good thing for the bank account!).
I braced myself for a visit to Sennelier on a recent trip to Paris and bought myself a 48-pan watercolor palette. It was a bit of a production, as it involved ordering the plastic half-pans (mark this down, Francophiles, they are called “demi-godets”–you will thank me for this later) separately, also from Sennelier, but not from their website, which you can’t order from, but you can email them, and although they don’t reply, if you call them, they’ll act like you’ve lost your mind, since BIEN SÛR they got your email and have set aside the goods for you to pick up!
Ah, life in la belle France. . . .
It took me about half a day to insert the pans, find my tube watercolors, find a few paints in pans that I already had, figure out how I wanted to lay them out, etc., etc.
Then I had to make my key, since recreation and refilling is hopeless without one.
You must have a room, or a certain hour or so a day, where you don’t know what was in the newspapers that morning, you don’t know who your friends are, you don’t know what you owe anybody, you don’t know what anybody owes to you. This is a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be. This is the place of creative incubation. At first you may find that nothing happens there. But if you have a sacred place and use it, something eventually will happen.