March 27, 2015

Creating Travel Journals - an Inside Look

Daniel Smith, WICE's Director of Programs, has switched hats and shares his experience as a WICE student in Jan Olsson's course Creating Travel Journals.   In his own words, Daniel give us an inside look at this drawing class:

How I learned to make mistakes and gained creativity in my Travel Journal

Image by Daniel Smith

When I bought my first Travel Journal, Sketchbook or Carnet de Voyage, I marveled at the white, empty pages of heavy paper that begged to be written with a fountain pen and thick black ink. Although I had been living in Paris for several years, my dream was to sit in a corner café with a travel book and write, sketch and capture the moment for all to experience.

Image by Daniel Smith
At our first class of a half dozen WICE Members and our WICE Instructor, artist Jan Olsson, we learned to test our pens and markers on scratch paper. Using scissors we cut patterns of our lines and circles to glue onto pages. We wrote descriptions and stories of life in Paris. “Hey, this is easy,” I said; there was no drawing or complexities.

Based on a demonstration by Jan, I could not wait to buy markers of black, gray and light gray to create the illusion of distance and depth. Once I found the markers, I started a Paris city-scape on the inside cover and facing first page.  Easy. Just as Jan explained I used dark in the foreground and lighter greys in the middle and background and quickly my city-scape was finished! But when I turned the page, to my horror, I realized that the ink had bled through the first page onto the second. My new travel journal was already permanently ruined.

A strange thing happened when I showed this mistake to several close friends. They liked the second page bleed-through mistake better than the first page. Huh? I had to admit that my mistake was not so terrible.
Image by Daniel Smith

Since my first “mistake,” I made even more serious and permanent “errors” but I found that most people absolutely admired my travel book, mistakes and all. Jan Olsson showed us a book of Frida Kahlor’s journal and she had even more bleed-through than I.

Frida and Jan Olsson had given me a license to make mistakes and I freely made laughable and permanent “errors.” But no one laughed. Instead, when I showed my sketchbook to friends and family, everyone was delighted. My creativity and confidence soared along with my sketching skills gently guided by Jan.

Image by Daniel Smith
During an exercise on drawing lines in the style of Paul Klee, I was roughly sketching his drawing “Underwater” that he completed in the South Pacific. My logical brain relaxed and my creativity was set free. In completing the sketch, I added whiskers to the cat that Paul Klee had obviously forgotten. It was only on my way home from class that my left-brain started to wake that I realized that Paul Klee had not at all forgotten the whiskers because it was not a cat. It was underwater plants. Another mistake but my cat was my creation, certainly not a mistake.

It became fun to make mistakes that turned out to be creative experiments. I was drawing. I had learned to make mistakes and reach a higher level of personal creativity feeling unashamed as strangers look over my shoulder as I sketched in a corner café.

In Jan Olsson's courses, such as the upcoming Creating Travel Journals: Celebrating Daily Life in Paris, she will give you a license to make mistakes, release your creativity, and develop your drawing skills.

For More Information and to Register:

When:      Thursdays, June 4, 11, 18, and 25, 2015
Time:       14h - 16h
Location: Artist's Studio, 75015 Paris, Metro: Balard