Monday, September 29, 2014

Week 39: Sketchbook of an Adventure

gate and a beautiful road..
  Sketchbook of an Adventure is the book-of-the-week for Week 39. This week's book is an essay on the insights and challenges of moving through the unknown, expressed as a series of sketches of some of the gates experienced on a trip overseas. The coptic bound book is covered in colorful marbled paper and a vintage map of the area near the Louvre Museum in Paris, France. A colorful turquoise linen thread headband strengthens the binding and also references, with it's chain-stitched pattern, the linked connections of passage and experience.
marbled paper and a map on the cover...
   Like the photo taken within the arched gates at the 2000 year-old Roman arena in Verona, all adventures have a feeling of moving through darkness into light. Adventurers are heroic embracers of the shadows of uncertainty in order to find enlightenment. Such were the great explorers like Columbus and Marco Polo...Sir Edmund Hillary and the first astronauts.
Roman arena in Verona
Or, adventures might be a series of mishaps and the fantastical such as Alice found in Wonderland, or Ulysses on his trek home from the battle of Troy... or the group of adventurers in Sketchbook of an Adventure. Even a modern-day trip from Raleigh, North Carolina to France and then to Italy has some uncomfortable moments of confusion, apprehension, and the unexpected!
the unexpected and unusual... topiary animals!
    There's something about the transfer of a line... seen on the horizon and then drawn by the hand onto paper... that cements an experience into memory as if it were ingested. In a sketchbook, the images don't have to be accurate. They can be mere shadows... blurs expressed as lines. Or, the imagery can move and flow across the page as in life... as we move along a path... changing as our perspective changes.
open to a map and a sketch from a train window...
They can be words stretched out like the exhaled breath of a sigh. Sketchbook of an Adventure is not just a collection of images but a confession of impressions...
a page of thoughts..
   A big part of adventures can be the mode of transport. Whenever boats are involved, a certain primal history is evoked. Jason, Ulysses, Ahab... all had boats as part of their adventure. This adventure had several boat trips too. Moving on water seems somewhat magical. 
riverboat ride on the Loire...
There is something about water that has an ephemeral quality of unreality. Reality and memory can be two distinctly different things. It's important to pay attention to what the psyche sees as much as what is real. A quick sketch without regard to specifics gives an interesting slant to the adventure... especially when on a moving boat.
from the boat...
impressions of the shore while floating down the river...
   Adventures are constantly changing scenes. As in all the great adventure stories... when one obstacle is mastered, another presents itself. This idea is expressed by all the doors and gates throughout the book.
a door at Le Croisic
   The sturdy wooden door seen at Le Croisic, a small fishing village on the west coast of France, symbolizes the idea of a new chapter in the adventure. Like some mythic gate, the round, glazed glass window, the polished brass fixtures, and the smooth wooden panel door are perfect expressions of the mystery, riches, and connection with others inherent in adventures. 
the door... in a sturdy gate stone block
   Gates everywhere are meant to keep out as well as let in. They might be painted and wrought with decoration, or they might be hedges of boxwood sheared and trained to have an opening for people to come and go. On an adventure, you are likely to see all kinds of gates.
iron gate with a complex design
a blue gate in front of a green gate...
Sometimes gates aren't always so precisely formed. They might be a group of trees, beyond which canopy the tower of the local cathedral rises... as on the Via del Ponterie, Verona.
above the treetops on Via del Ponterie
Yet, across the street... at the bus stop... the view of the spire is totally different. On an adventure, perspective makes all the difference.
follow the arrow...
   On an adventure to far away lands, one has to recognize that there are all sorts of people. The people of a country are complex and unique individuals... and each has his own story to tell. Stereotypes are for statisticians not adventurers. Getting to know the people of a new land is one of the best gates to enter.
street sign people
   On an adventure there will be many unfamiliar things. Busses might have automatic ticket reading machines, door handles might have unfamiliar locks, bathrooms might have pay stiles and foot operated water faucets.  One begins to feel like the young son in the Grimm's fairy tale, The Water of Life, opening the gate of the castle with his special iron wand.  Even something as simple as a telephone booth can be confusing, especially when the language is unfamiliar... But somehow the problem usually gets solved and the adventurer has that puffed up feeling of conquering something... even if it is as simple as opening a door!
phone booth in Verona
   The complexity of impressions on an adventure is probably why people love them so much. History and the present are mixed in the imagination... Like the ancient river flowing past a 2000 year-old metropolis, change is constant yet time is preserved, and everywhere there are stories real and imagined.
sketching by the river in Verona

The sketchbook ends with a pocket for collecting some of the souvenirs of the trip.. in this case... sugar packs throughout France and Italy.

pocket of sugars

the three adventurers waiting for the train..
Au revoir! and Ciao!

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