Don’t wait for this or that to be finished. Don’t wait until all your chores are done or all your ducks are in a row. Just in case more ducks get out of the row or more chores replace the old ones…dance now. Dance wherever you may be and whatever may be happening in your life. Dance your heart out!
I had an opportunity to make a lifelong dream come true
My husband was the one who suggested I read the book called Travels with Charley – In Search of America by John Steinbeck. Mr. Steinbeck named his truck camper Rocinante. My husband thought that would be a great name for the Airstream.
According to Wikipedia, “Rocinante is Don Quixote’s horse in the two-part 1605/1615 novel Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes. In many ways, Rocinante is not only Don Quixote’s horse, but also his double: like Don Quixote, he is awkward, past his prime, and engaged in a task beyond his capacities.”
What name could be more appropriate for the “horse” that would carry me across the country on my very first adventure? Like John Steinbeck, my journey would make a big circle around America…across the top, out West, down to the bottom, and back East. Also like John Steinbeck’s search of America, my own search took three months. When I left on the trip, I wasn’t sure how long it would take. I was terrified. I was excited. This might be, as for John Steinbeck, my only adventure like this and I wanted to savor every moment. I felt so alive! I was in my 60’s and thought the best part of my life was behind me. This trip made me feel like a girl again…like the girl who explored the woods and marveled at the campers and trailers and schoolies at Atwood State Park. I was in search of America, but also in search of ME.
When I was around ten or eleven, my dad bought a truck with a little home-made camper on top of it. The truck looked more like a car…all sleek and slim. The camper was made with plywood and painted green. The roof was canvas. It looked sort of, kind of, maybe…like this.
That is so not really right, but I like it anyways. The little area over the truck cab was so small that I couldn’t make myself share the space with my sister. I slept in a lawn chair outside. My parents slept on the table…lowered down to the level of the bench seats. There was no bathroom. The kitchen consisted of a tiny counter with a propane camp stove and an ugly gray water cooler.
Camper – Meh! Camping – Awesome!
I did NOT like camping in it on those rare occasions that we went to Atwood State Park in Ohio. I loved being there. I just didn’t like having to sleep and spend time with three other people in THERE. Outside the camper, my parents left me to my own. I explored the woods and spent a lot of time looking at the other campers. There were no Winnebagos that I can recall. Mostly there were tents, truck campers, little vintage trailers, and some old school buses converted into campers.
That was the moment…there at Atwood State Park. It was seeing those little RVs. To me they were little homes and I wanted one of my own. I wanted to see what they looked like inside.
First Glimpse at my Introversion
When our own camper was at home, it sat out under a tree, balanced on four stilts that cranked down to allow the truck to pull out from under it. Dad left the little camper sitting there on its thin legs. I was allowed to go inside whenever I wanted. I felt like this was some sort of right-of-passage. I was at last old enough to do something by myself. The little camper was not hooked to electricity, so it was always a bit dark inside. I didn’t care. I went out and sat on the bench seat and just thought. I imagined myself living in there and being on my own. I locked the door and it was thrilling to just be allowed to lock a door. Privacy. My first privacy. My first solitude. And I liked it. I didn’t need it all the time. A few minutes at a time was enough to give me the energy to go back out and be around others. I just loved getting that time to myself, even though I didn’t really have anything to do out there. Mostly it was just sitting in the dim light, smelling the odd wooden structure and the plastic covered seats; taking time to just be.
That was how it started; my being an introvert and finding a way to do that and not to feel like I was weird. I was just me. I discovered how much I savored quiet moments, the listening to things…really concentrating on things around me
It was good.
The previous page of my art journal took me back to those days when I fell in love with designing “home”. It’s the page where I decided to try my hand at drawing things from memory. It brings them to life and gives me a chance to share them with others. Much to my delight I found out that others have done the same thing…drawing houses on the ground with autumn leaves. Wow!
Houses Drawn on the Sidewalk
After the leaves were burned I had to find another way to make houses…because my heart was on fire with this new pass time.
Too Cold to Draw Outside – Draw Inside!
I could draw them on any surface, but I found a large sketchbook was best. I used a pen to draw the layout and features I wanted. Then I colored everything in with colored pencils. As I went along I added more and more detail to my drawings. I designed houses in caves, tree-houses, buses, apartments…anything I could think of.
It was fun to add wood floors, stone floors, patterns on furniture, little details of things on dressers, desks, and kitchen counters.
Lately I’ve gotten it in my head to add walls. That was good for my brain, I think. I liked figuring out how to cut holes for windows, how to color the inside and outside to make it look as real as possible. I wanted to be able to peek inside and see what it looked like; pretending that I could see the family inside, living and loving one another and making the most of their time together.
3-D Structure – An art class project with the kids
For my part in the project, I drew the RV. First I drew it in my journal and then made it with white foam core board. This was the final art project I did with the kids in Honolulu.
I wanted them to do this design project so they would, on their own, discover why perspective and scale are so important. I wanted them to learn to think in three dimensions and to see how everything relates to everything else.
However we only had a week to complete the project. It was the first one where they didn’t put it aside after class and not come back to it until the next lesson. This time they took the little houses with them to spots around the house and each one worked throughout the week. I was so proud.
My own, shown below, was done quite hastily. I didn’t measure out the furniture. It was more like the other drawings from memory…very spontaneous/ I didn’t have time to color the interior or exterior of the walls. I just went with trying to depict that the walls existed and divided up the space into little rooms.
It was a fun project. I didn’t do a very good job, but it was still satisfying and left me wanting to make more. It reminded me of the 3-D dollhouse my younger sister had all those years ago.
I come back to the topic of designing houses in pages further along. Here I was just figuring out what I wanted this little art journal to be about. I have never been good at or liked to do art from my imagination. I prefer to have something real to look at. But as I got into the journal, I began to draw little sketches from memory and found it so satisfying that it has changed how I look at art altogether.
The nickname of Ren came about a number of years ago. I have a dream to write a children’s book about a little girl named Aubrey Claire who is a modern day Renaissance Girl. I am also one who has tried many things and so I named my character in an online role playing game…Ren. Short for Renaissance. It has stuck and to this day, throughout the US, on my travels, I am Ren.
I don’t think I talk about the cover in any of the pages. I wanted to have a printer with me in the RV. From time to time I needed to print out documents, but I also wanted a printer that would print out high quality prints that I could sell. I’d had a Canon Pixma Pro printer for years back in my studio at the cabin and I loved the quality. It printed with pigments rather than ink jet. The ink doesn’t smear when it gets wet. It’s also archival quality. Even better, the quality of the printouts is superior. The printer in the image above is the Canon Pixma Pro-100. It prints on paper as large as 13×19. I can print on almost any medium. I can run archival quality watercolor paper through it if I choose. I’ve often printed on the highest quality bristol board, made by Stonehenge.
The RV – 2018 Winnebago Vista LX35
This is a class A motorhome. It’s thirty-five feet long. It was purchased January 5th, 2018. It has a bath and a half. The half bath is right in the middle and is accessible even when the slide-outs are in. I can’t tell you how convenient that was when I was on the road. The rear bathroom is blocked off by the bed, which is on a slide-out. The RV has a washer/dryer combo which is fantastic. I loved having it. There is plenty of storage through the interior of the RV, as well in as in the “basement area” underneath. The living area has an electric fireplace that actually kept the entire RV very comfortable in even the coldest weather. There are lots of posts about the Winnebago if you’d like to look back to them.
Einstein is a ten year old Golden Retriever. He was my best friend and traveling companion. He was not able to go with me to Hawaii. It was a very difficult decision to make. He was a great dog and pack member, but he did not like our days on the road. he often became physically ill for days while on the road. I found a new home for him and he has been doing super well. I’m told he adjusted immediately and is loving life with the other Golden Retrievers and the children. That makes me feel better. I still miss him and you’ll see him throughout my blog. I’d love it if you’d read the interview with Einstein…in the menu at the top of the screen.
I have the printer…still
I bought it while in Oklahoma. When it was delivered, it weighed fifty pounds. Once out of the box, it still weighed in at thirty-five pounds. On travel days, it sat in the passenger seat with a seatbelt. It rode with me my house-sitting job in New Jersey. For $165 I shipped it in the US Mail to Honolulu, Hawaii in March. When I left Honolulu and returned to the mainland, it costs $400 to take on the plane. Why you ask? Why would I pay so much to keep it with me?
Because I’ve never had a printer that can compare and it will earn its costs by helping me to sell my art.
This art journal is on a spiral book made in Beaverton, Oregon. Its called Bee Paper and is considered Marker Paper. I like the super smooth texture of the pages. I like to use colored pencil, watercolor pencil, permanent markers, and watercolors. I had to leave the watercolor pencils in Hawaii and my colored pencils are in storage. I do have the watercolor set I used however.
And here are the pens I prefer to use. All of my ink pens are permanent so that I can use them with watercolors. I like rather fine points as my art journals are rather small. That way I can take them with me in my backpack.
Einstein is gone. The RV is gone. But the adventure and its story are still here…in this little art journal. When I was traveling to visit friends and family, I used the nickname Ren. I made many new friends along the way and I didn’t give my real name. So I’m called Ren or Renny by the many awesome people who crossed my path. I like it.
By the time I was traveling around in this, our cabin was empty and up for sale. I couldn’t make myself move back into the empty cabin. Besides, the whole purpose of selling everything and selling the cabin was so that we could live in the RV full time and travel. Little did we know it would take two years to sell the cabin. At this time, it has a buyer, but is a short sale and has not been finalized yet. Many fingers are crossed
I got two pages done in my first art journal and then all the pages started falling out. The paper was a heavy cold press watercolor paper and just didn’t stand up to the small book being opened and closed.