I Thought I Knew....

11:28 AM

Sketchbook from New Orleans Trip
Watercolor and Ink
8.5 x 3.5 inches
I thought I "knew" New Orleans. After all, we've all heard stories of drunken stupidity on Bourbon Street, right? And Mardi Gras is just another excuse for more drunken stupidity, right? I couldn't have been more wrong!

Kathy, of Catching Happiness, and I have just returned from the Crescent City and boy, did we have a ball!  This was a working trip for both of us though it almost seems an insult to call it work because it was so much fun! We were on our feet walking, seeing the sights and just taking it all in 10 to 12 hours each day we were there. And we just barely managed to scratch the surface of this complex, multi-layered gem.

Bourbon Street is just that...one street. Walking just one block in either direction and we were in a totally different city. It was as if Bourbon Street didn't even exist. There is a genteel feel to the city mixed with a healthy dose of grit and moxie. In fact, we heard a complaint from a taxi driver about the city becoming too gentrified. However, I saw plenty of examples of the Bohemian streak that made New Orleans [im]famous to know that streak is still alive and well.

New Orleans has definitely changed since Katrina and there's no doubt the storm left a scar on the soul of the city. In fact, parts of the city still look more like the ravaged areas of a war-torn, third world country than a city in the US, but she's coming back and she's coming back stronger, wiser, and lovelier than before.

If you've read the blog very long, you know of my love/hate relationship with most commercially-made sketchbooks, and that I've started to make my own.....
Close up of Sketchbook Cover
Watercolor and Ink
8.5 x 3.5 inches
Click to Enlarge
....and the one above is the latest. I love, love, love the long format of the Handbook Watercolor Journal that I've been working in but not the paper. I decided to make my own for the trip. This book has 12 pages of 140 lb. Arches cold press watercolor paper with front and back covers made from mat board. I used eyelets on the front and back covers so they would be more durable and I chose the mat board so the inside pages would have more protection. It did reasonably well considering it tumbled around in my shoulder bag with camera lenses and other necessary paraphernalia.
Oversized jump rings can be used to "lock" the sketchbook
open or the elastic band works just as well.
A happy (accidental) finding was that the oversized jump rings (above left image) could be turned back towards the sketchbook and used as a locking system when I was sketching on the inside pages. To keep the pages securely shut when the book was in my bag, I used an elastic band (above image, right) with the watch face. The band runs through two eyelets in the back cover so it is permanently attached (and I don't have to worry about losing it!). In fact, this has worked so well that this style of sketchbook may become my favorite!

Because this was a working trip, there was little time to sketch and paint on location. The cover sketch was done in the early hours one morning when I could not sleep. I started adding paint on the plane ride home and finished it this morning. It is a collage of some of the stronger impressions of the trip. With over 800 photos to use for inspiration, I'm sure the 12 pages will be filled in no time. Who knows, I may even have to make another sketchbook!

An enchanting city to be sure, and it has definitely cast a spell over me. I admire the determination of the residents and natives of the city to not only come back stronger than ever but to come back better than ever. That kind of strength I greatly admire and I'll be going back....wanna come?

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