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Art Journal – the Airstream Adventure

Art Journal – the Airstream Adventure

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.

Page One and Two

Page One and Two

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.

New Art Journal

New Art Journal

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.

How do I spend my time?

How do I spend my time?

I admit that I can have whole days where I don’t have any chores to do. However, living in a small space loses its appeal when it becomes cluttered up. I try not to buy things, but sometimes I do find things I can’t live without. When I see things I want, I have to ask myself if there’s anything in the RV I can live without so that I can replace it with this new thing. The answer is usually yes. The stuff I thought I couldn’t live without when I first started this have not all turned out to be a good fit for this life. This month is one of those times when I go through my stuff and see what can be given away or donated. There are things that I have bought and indeed used, but the need for it has passed.

My RV isn’t brimming over with stuff. I just don’t want to get carried away with buying things. I like it simple.

Because I have a dog and that dog likes routine, there is a bit of routine in my life. Einstein does let me sleep in. He tries whining a bit when he thinks I should get up, but I’m a pretty sound sleeper, so it doesn’t always work. He isn’t whimpering because he wants out desperately. He just wants me to get up. So. Eventually I acknowledge his request and we have a bonding time. He wiggles and wags and I pet and talk to him in my happiest voice. Mostly. I get dressed and he always has to come over and sniff what I pick out to wear, as if he needs to give it his approval.

I make my bed. I have to do this because the extra pillows (I need them for nap time!) are laying on the seat at the table. Once the bed is made, I put a mug full of water into my little Keurig machine and press the button so it makes a cup of coffee for me. Next I give Einstein his thyroid medicine and get out his leash for a walk. He loves this part.

Glen Ayr Resort and Campground, Washington

After a nice walk, its back inside. Einstein knows our RV and no matter where we are, when we get close to it, he goes right to the door and puts his front paws up on the bottom step. When I open the door, he has to duck his head. Every time. Back inside, he gets a drink. So I have to make sure I put fresh water in his bowl, because I KNOW he’s going to get a drink after his walk. Predictable!!!

The RV now smells like freshly brewed coffee…I love THAT part. My cup of coffee is ready for consumption. I make sure the table is cleaned up a bit. It may have the laptop on it or some art supplies. I put a scoop of food into Einstein’s dish and then I eat. He seems to be happiest if we eat at the same time. I don’t always accommodate his preferences, but life together is a give and take, right?

Since the table is also my art studio, just sitting there to eat a bowl of cereal gets my creative juices going and pretty soon I’m munching and sketching. I check my phone, because during the night I sometimes (often) wake up with ideas for drawings. I put them into the NOTES app on my phone. The drawing of the RV pulling the printer behind it was a wake-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night idea. However, the dog on top of the printer…that was actually a daytime idea.

I don’t do dishes after every meal. Sometimes I could. Sometimes I can’t. So I usually just go somewhere in the middle and just do them when the left side sink is full. If I’m dry-camping (no hookups, so no water, electric, or septic) I try not to make many dirty dishes. If I do have hookups and its an travel day, I wash things right away, because I leave after breakfast. If I am staying somewhere for a while, I let it go until the little basin is full.

Wow! I just noticed most of my washed dishes are COFFEE MUGS!

If I have any chores, it works best if I do them in the morning (or whenever I get up). I might have to sweep the floor. If I didn’t have Einstein, I probably would rarely have to sweep. He sheds year round. Once every other week, when I’m stationary somewhere, I have to empty my grey tank (water from the dishwater/shower/washing machine) and black tank (you know…the toilet! Yikes!). Right now I’m in Robert’s driveway and he has 50 amp electric, water, and septic for me. Its wonderful. I let my tanks get to 2/3 full and then empty them both. I empty the black tank first and then the grey. The water from the grey tank flows up into the black water tank and helps wash it out. Then I close them both up again.

From time to time I have to sharpen pencils. I use a lot of watercolor pencils, oil based colored pencils, and wax based colored pencils. I like them to be very sharp, so the point gets down into the pores of the paper. So I use my Homepod, telling it “Hey, Siri, play some pop music” so I can sharpen pencils to music. And sometimes I just like to dance around the RV. If I’m a little down, it lifts me up. If I’m happy, it makes me happier and I burn some calories.

Every once in a while I look through my belongings to see if I can give anything away or donate it. If I haven’t used something ever or in a long time…it goes to a new home somewhere.

I have no yard work. I keep my bathrooms clean and tidy, but that doesn’t take much time at all. I love to tuck little pieces of art, postcards, artistic business cards, or photos into the edges of my mirror. Surprisingly, they stay put when I’m bumping along on the highway.

I’d say that I spend most of my time doing what I want. I take naps, bake something, cook meals, go for walks, take Einstein to a dog park, go to a store where I can buy art supplies, and I spend a LOT of time doing art. I like to draw things on paper and then take them into my iPad and do more art with them in the Procreate app, using my Apple Pencil. I’ve written about that in an earlier post.

To earn money, I draw things and sell them. In the past, I owned a film company and made documentaries, commercials and videos for corporations. I also filmed and edited a plethora of weddings. I have been an artist for most of my life. Doing the film work seemed to be a great way to combine all the other types of creative things I enjoy doing. I call myself a Digital Nomad now. I do whatever I can do from this little table in my RV.

I have never ever been so happy and so productive. I have learned, at last to live in the moment.

Art Journaling

Art Journaling

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A few days ago I joined a Facebook group called Art Journaling for Beginners. I’ve been keeping a journal since I was ten and I’ve even added a few little sketches to them from time to time, but I wouldn’t call them “art journals”. The idea intrigued me though and I’ve decided to give it a try. I posted a little bit about where to begin and several people commented with ideas and tips. That was pretty cool.

Image may contain: drink

A couple days ago I posted in the group about how my art studio used to be a large, well-equipped studio back East, but now its this little table in my RV where I’m sitting as I write this. I drew a sketch in my little art journal. It was kind of (well, it was REALLY) rough, but it was so much fun. I added that to the post. Oh my goodness! The last time I looked 235 other art journaling people had “reacted” to my post and 46 have responded with comments. I have been so touched by this. I read every single comment and responded back, because their encouragement and kindness is amazing and makes me feel like I’m part of something. Wow! While I read the comments, it felt like every one of those people were right here with me in my RV. A clap on the back. Kindness. Support. Sharing of their own stories. It was like each person stopped by for a cup of tea or coffee and we were having a real live visit. I’ve had this travel blog for a couple of years now and there are eight people following it (THANK YOU so much, you eight!!!). So to get hundreds of “likes” and so many great comments has left me stuttering and stammering for words.

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I see the importance of reaching out to members of the group and encouraging them. It really means a lot to get that affirmation and to feel like what you’re doing matters and is actually SEEN by someone else. Maybe the right words would be that YOU are SEEN. Its so easy to feel invisible in all the busyness of life. When someone gets you…sees you…that is a moment to remember.

Keep on keeping on, fellow art journalers!