Today is the first day of the month and that always means a brand new Doodlewash adventure! This month’s theme and art challenge is Travel Stories, and we’ll be exploring all of the lovely moments that travel has to offer us. If you happen to actually be traveling this month, this is a wonderful time to take us with you on your vacation so we can all live vicariously through your sketches. Or if, like me, you have no trips planned at all this month, then it’s a perfect month to reminisce about your favorite vacations from the past. I’m still playing catch-up with all of the things I need to get done after a thrilling World Watercolor Month this year, so we have a quick little three color doodlewash to kick things off. Our prompt is waves, and I since I don’t really do landscapes, I decided to speedily sketch a pelican standing in front of some. This is actually a brown pelican. I like them because they’re particularly funny looking, even more so than a typical pelican. Sort of like a balding man stumbling on the beach wondering where he partially buried his beer in the sand, and hoping it’s not now under those waves back there. Well, yeah, that’s where my imagination takes me at least. And I’m also longing to be on a beach still, so this takes me back to one of my favorite memories of the first beach I ever visited.
The very first beach I ever experienced didn’t reveal itself to me until I was in college. It wasn’t a Pacific or Atlantic beach, but instead one in Texas off the Gulf of Mexico. One of the beauties of college days is that driving was never a bore and still felt like a sense of pure freedom. Suddenly, you could go anywhere you like as long as you were willing to endure entire days trapped inside a car. So driving directly south from Kansas City until it was impossible to go any further seemed like a good idea at the time. On this route, my travel companion and I experienced the hills of Missouri and Arkansas while moving suddenly into the impossibly flat landscape of Texas. This was a bit of a shock as you could see the city you were approaching from miles away, like it was only a mirage. Houston appeared this way and just south of that, we drove on until it was growing so dark we could barely see anything at all. And then, finally, we found ourselves on the Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier. We were far too late for any of the pleasures there, so we had to park to the side and just walk out onto the dark beach. The moonless sky was not our friend that night and so most of what I remember is the feeling of the sand between my toes and the sound of the ocean. I couldn’t see much of anything in that moment. But, what I imagined still feels like pure magic.
Our hotel was “off the beach” which always means that it was an economy hotel with absolutely no view of the beach whatsoever. I could really have been just about anywhere when I woke up the next day and stared out onto a large barn-like structure with equally large letters spelling BINGO on the side. So, after playing a couple rounds of BINGO we decided to head to the beach in the daylight. And it was a truly fantastic sight! Sure, we were merely meters from a hall of people shouting “BINGO!” at the top of their lungs, and standing next to something evocatively called a “Pleasure Pier,” but none of that mattered. It was the final stop of our grand adventure and the glorious start of a brand new one. We had no idea what would happen next, and in that moment, staring out across the beach, time seemed to stand still. It’s this very moment that I recall most from that trip. Not whatever happened next, but the splendid feeling of wondrous possibility that I felt when I arrived there. That “anything is possible” feeling that’s often so hard to obtain as an adult. But strangely becomes quite easy, when you set out boldly on a new journey and happily find yourself lost in the waves.
About the Doodlewash
M. Graham Watercolors: Indian Yellow, Perylene Maroon, and Turquoise. Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with sepia ink in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book. Want to purchase a print of this doodlewash? Send me a note with a link to this post, and I’ll add it to my shop!
Creator of Doodlewash®, founder of World Watercolor Month (July), World Watercolor Group™, and host of the Sketching Stuff Podcast. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!