I spent most of September getting ready and touring around the west coast of Ireland. Here is a special journal I made using blank 140 lb. Fabriano Artistico watercolor paper, as well as already-painted folios. The outside cover is upholstery leather with an inside green fabric fused to it with HeatnBond. Dark green linen thread sewn in a long stitch holds the 6 signatures of 3 folios each in place. There’s a Celtic button and round leather string to close it up. By folding up a recycled painting and hammering in some mini-eyelets, I created pockets. My intention was to take this journal with me everywhere and to write poetry, prose, thoughts, feelings, and lists, as well as to sketch. Spacing the signatures far enough to allow for thick collage, I planned for an all-purpose travel companion.
Now, here’s the ironic part. I did one sketch, in Doolin, the first day, and then nothing. Nada, zilch, nothing! Although it was a small tour group—four paying customers, the tour guide and her boy friend—it was exhausting. So much to see and do and feel. Although the pace was better than a commercial tour, to me if felt like non-stop go, Go, GO! It didn’t help the boyfriend would voice anything that popped into his head and often got into arguments with the girlfriend while the “tourists” became uncomfortable witnesses. Stress was thick when we were all crammed into the one mini-bus. Being an introvert and a Highly Sensitive Person, I found the atmosphere akin to an endurance test.
There were a lot of physical challenges, too: climbing up ancient forts and mountains on slippery rocks and slick grass, hiking here and there, being outside in much cooler (and lovely!) weather, navigating unfamiliar city streets.
Using this small notebook (below), first intended to hold art ideas, I wrote daily activities even on bumpy roads. Thus, my new camera became my main creative outlet for the twelve days. Eventually, with reflection and time, using fliers and brochures, I will transform my unused book into a travel journal.
The Irish food was all good and nourishing; I even acquired a taste for Guinness! The land and weather became a comfort, the people helpful and friendly. And the changeable light—dark clouds, rain, sunshine—illuminated and obscured distances. Ireland touched my soul since I first visited in 1982. So, regardless of the trials of this recent trip, I know the frustrations will fall away, leaving only good photos and good memories.