“No sketches first, no studies, that’s long past:
I do what many dream of, all their lives…
Well, less is more… “
Robert Browning (1812–1889)
from his poem (1855) ‘speaking’ as artist
Andrea del Sarto to his wife Lucrezia
Less is More
I needed to tidy my studio, but where to start?
Why is getting over that initial hurdle so excruciating?
How hard can it be?
That wicked left language side of my brain was working it’s evil, blowing the whole job up into wordy thoughts of enormity to scare me off, when in reality it was a simple case of less is more – Move forward, pick up a piece of paper or a book, and watch the task magically unfurl.
Putting my hand out I let it fall upon a black covered travel journal sitting near the top of the pile –
And who couldn’t resist a little peek and maybe a quick flick through?!
What is a Travel Journal to You?
Journals (to me) are a personal thing –
They’re not as a rule for sharing –
They’re a means to privately record what has filled my days – So years later (or when I tidy my studio) I can go – Oh! I’d forgotten all about that –
I love the accessibility of journals – The immediacy of their stories encased between thick black covers waiting to be rediscovered.
Like this day when the stingrays were feeding along the water’s edge – And I noticed how the original 2 black swans feeding on the sea grass a few days previously, had become 13! Which then made me realise that they’re no longer here, having moved on to greener pastures (?!). But how having them in the Bay for a while was such a wondrous thing.
Capturing Memories Digitally
If you take a photo (‘a’ photo haha), I mean xxxx photos, the onus is squarely on you to do something with them after you’ve pressed that shutter if you are to get any pleasure from them.
All that willy nilly carefree snapping while travelling in a bid to capture those elusive holiday moments creates a frighteningly large pile of numbers on your SD card, and/or your hard-drive that shows you absolutely nothing and tells you even less.
P1070059, P1070060, P1070061….
Until…. you’ve spent hours at some point later down the track (if that ‘later’ ever comes) to pore over them and repeatedly click and delete the rubbish, sort, cull, crop and enhance. rename and file, before they’re fit to see the light of day when finally uploaded and/or print/published.
Capturing memories with photos can doom them to a life imprisoned in the deepest darkest depths of your hard drive.
Which is maybe why I love story-mapping in my travel journals so much!
The ‘Less is More’ Way to Recording Your Travelling Tales
Story-Map travel journals are effortless to ‘read’ –
At a glance the narrative is laid out before you illustrating what you saw, how you did it, where you went, who you met…
And their creation by comparison to other methods of recording travel memories, is relatively effortless too!
When travelling I spend about 15 minutes each evening to ponder, reflect and re-live the events of the day (which in itself helps to commit the experiences to my long term memory) while I do little doodle drawings to record what has taken place –
They’re not photographic, or life like renditions – They’re more like pictograms that represent and portray what I’m remembering in my mind’s eye – symbolically.
There’s no pressure to create an artistic sketch –
Scribbly doodles are the go!
And because when I’m on the road I have the tendency to go into overdrive, squashing the max into each day (and each moment) the days can be long, not allowing a lot of time for record keeping –
So it’s only the initial outline of the drawing that I ensure I get done and dusted before my head hits the pillow each night – Anything more is optional.
The colouring can wait –
It’s only the factual bits that I’m compelled to spend that 15 minutes committing to paper before the day is done because it’s surprising just what can fall between the cracks if I don’t do that before the clock strikes midnight.
The colouring part is super relaxing and a pleasurable pastime that requires no thinking so can be slotted in anytime –
Whether you have a few moments to fill waiting for someone, or something to happen; or you’re having a drink in a cafe and/or socializing with friends – Colouring can be done while chatting – It does not require your full attention (unlike scrolling through posts on your phone 😉 )
‘Less is More’ in both Size & Shape
I’ve tried various configurations of travel journals for doodling my story maps – portrait, landscape, large and small, but I love the concertina or accordion journals that can fold out into a continuous sheet so the pages and the days are all connected –
They allow ‘time’ to flow and not be confined to fit within the bounds of a single page.
I don’t know about you – But my days are rarely created equal – Some days are huge and need to spill out over three pages with the complexity of their events…
Other days are lazy, and will comfortably curl up in the corner of a page!
Why ‘Less is More’ is so Effective
I wonder if you realize how much you unwittingly use pictograms in your every day life?
Signage to keep you safe on the roads, to direct you to public conveniences and warn you of dangers – particularly where they need to be comprehended across language barriers –
Minuscule cartoon-like pictograms can say so much.
The way I see it is –
- Rather than writing pages and pages of words to spell out a first draft describing the intricacies of what you did
- Spend hours sketching in one spot attempting a life like rendition of a single moment
- Or staring at a computer screen scrolling, culling and enhancing xxxx photos
As a first port of call for recording your travel memories consider taking a mere 15 minutes to turn your day’s experiences into pictograms and try story mapping your travels –
Your story, there and then, will have been recorded for posterity.
For the minimal amount of time and energy involved, the results are massive!
“No sketches first, no studies, that’s long past:
I do what many dream of, all their lives,
—Dream? strive to do, and agonize to do,
And fail in doing. I could count twenty such
On twice your fingers, and not leave this town,
Who strive—you don’t know how the others strive
To paint a little thing like that you smeared
Carelessly passing with your robes afloat,—
Yet do much less, so much less, Someone says,
(I know his name, no matter)—so much less!
Well, less is more, Lucrezia: I am judged.”
What do you think?
Do you agree that less can be more when it comes to travel journalling?
Or is this poppycock?
Do share your views in the comments below and let the discussion begin 🙂