Thursday, November 18, 2010

I Thought I Knew....

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?

16 comments:

  1. Sounds like a great business trip! Your sketchbook looks great. Did you cut the paper so the grain ran in a particular way or does it even matter? And how did the matboard feel to paint on? The cover is gorgeous but that doesn't equate to fun to paint on. It'll be fun to see what you fill it with.

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  2. Wow!! That is what immediately came to mind when I saw this gorgeous double page spread!! and then reading your words I thought "WOW" what an adventure and opportunity for Laure and Kathy!! This is wonderful.

    Come along? I'd love to. Are you planning "An Imaginary Trip to New Orleans" by any chance? Sounds like fun! (although a real trip would even be better!)

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  3. I LOVE your work. Not only that but your imagination in how you do these collages. Making them fit together telling the whole story. Do you draw it all out on something else as a trial and then onto this sketch book or do you just go for it? Sounds like a really fun and exciting trip. Looking forward to more of your work from there.

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  4. I second your enthusiasm for NOLA--it was a fascinating, enchanting, wonderful place to visit (and I'll be posting about the trip also later...). I LOVE your finished sketchbook cover. The whole thing is going to be quite the work of art when you get done if the cover is any indication. Gorgeous.

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  5. Oh, Timaree, it was totally awesome! As to the grain, I did cut with the grain, but given the way this book goes together, I really don't think it would make much of a difference. Painting on mat board is....a totally different experience from painting on anything I know of. The paint stays where you put it, if you want it to diffuse and blend, you almost have to prime the paper with water first. That's partly the reason for this being more illustrative than my usual style. I enjoy working on mat board for the challenge it presents and the look it gives. If you decide to try it, make sure you use an acid free, rag paper mat.

    It was, Lisa, it was!

    Thank you, Claire! As to Imaginary Trips, yes, I imagine there might just be one very soon....

    Thanks, Cris! Hmmm, I suppose drawing it out on another piece of paper would work....but I don't. I put it down and fly with it. If I run into a problem, I make it work. It's something I've been doing a while too, so that helps.

    THANK YOU, KJ, for a brilliantly fun trip!! Looking forward to the next one!

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  6. Love your sketch book, the cover is sooooo nice! You're always so very creative with everything you touch! What a nice trip to take for work! I hope you were able to actually get some work done!!

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  7. Why, thank you, Myra, coming from you that means a lot! Yes, ma'am, I was able to get a lot done. A highly successful trip!

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  8. I love your enthusiasm! And hope I get to see some more of your art inspired by New Orleans. I never thought I wanted to go there, but after reading your blog I sure wouldn't pass up the chance.

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  9. Sounds like a really memorable trip and I love the way you have chosen to remember it with your work....so creative. Your sketchbook is scrumtious!

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  10. Oh, you lucky girl! I was supposed to visit NOLA the year Katrina hit it, so I never got to go. Maybe I will in the future.
    I LOVE this painting you did! It depicts so much of what you must have seen. Very nice watercolor collage.

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  11. Love your books, Laure--those are gorgeous! I went to New Orleans for the first time a year ago and loved it--such a rich culture there.

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  12. Wow! A beauty of a journal you've created. Never thought to paint right on the matboard cover. Makes sense as any cover paper I've used gets worn. Love the eyelets and the permanent elastic band. A beautifully executed journal for a wonderful trip!

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  13. Sounds like a wonderful adventure! I really like that size, too, and the pages sound like just the right number to memorialize a trip. I've been considering jump rings for handmade journals, but wasn't sure how they would work. I like the fact that I could add pages in the future or chnge them around. your cover is beautiful!

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  14. What a beautiful cover to your new journal! You captured the essence of NOLA. I was there years ago and would love to go back. Were you teaching a class?

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  15. Your sketchbooks are so beautiful and this one really is a beauty! Have fun filling it all in. Your trip sounded devine!!!

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