My First Travel Journal

Day 22 - Travel Journal Watercolor Illustration - Doodlewash

Today, I was looking through a packed box that I haven’t opened in years and ran across an old journal, pen, and a travel clock. The clock was a find an antique store and I thought it was rather fun, but the journal isn’t that old at all. It was from a trip to Portugal and Spain that I took back in 2003. It was entirely written words, and as ever, I could barely make out what I’d scrawled in my terrible handwriting. Thankfully, the words in this journal have already been transcribed into digital form, but I didn’t even realize I still had the physical journal. I wasn’t sketching at the time, so not a single image appears on those pages. It would have been wonderful to see something visual as well like my daily posts. But, it would be 12 years later before I would pick up my pen to draw and play with watercolor. In truth, I used to travel much more, both personally and for work before I ever started sketching. This is why I didn’t really become an urban sketcher and chose instead to journal about moments from the past. It’s a way of recapturing the memories I might have made were I sketching at the time. But it was fun to sketch something from life today that brought back so many wonderful memories.

When I showed Philippe the travel clock, he got very animated and said, “My grandmother had the same one!” Then after a few beats, he looked at me and said, “You didn’t buy this new, did you?” I’m a bit older, but not by that much. Yet, it was fun to see him enjoying a memory from my find as well. A glanced through the journal, picking out words as I went. Much of my writing style has remained the same, but it’s matured a bit more over the years. That said, it’s still always a stream of consciousness and not edited, but I guess even that gets a bit better with practice. The journal wasn’t even full, however, which is a definite change today. My towering stack of sketchbooks are completely filled with various watercolors. And there are more than 1,300 written journal entries now on this blog. It will be over 1,400 when World Watercolor Month returns in July! So, when I thumb through this journal and see my intention of wanting to write daily slowly dissolve over time, I’m enheartened to know that I finally figured out a way to do it that works for me.

That clock is still present in my daily offerings. It’s not there to wake me for the next day of travel, as in the past, but to tell me that I only have a few moments left to sketch and write what I’ve made for the day. As weird as it seems, I rather enjoy that. If I had all the time in the world I would take it and do nothing at al. But, give me a time limit and I can make the impossible happen. Procrastination is a badge that many creative people wear with pride. What I love today is that what I DO has become a fun routine. Something I don’t worry or fret about having time to do, but something I enjoy so much that I can’t imagine not doing it one day. Sure, perhaps, someday in the future I might pause for a few days or move on to something else. It’s not impossible. But, today, it feels completely impossible and that makes my heart smile bigger than it ever has before. I’m thrilled to make my little coloring pages each day and let me mind wander and type what it wants. Someday, I’ll look back on everything I’ve collected here and feel so grateful to have captured a life so full it would be impossible to remember it fully. I’ll thumb through these digital pages and be able to reminisce and enjoy those moments again, like that time I found my first travel journal.

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Da Vinci Paint Co.: Aureolin, Vermilion, and Indigo (my “Vintage” Trio! Click Here To Purchase It!). Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with black 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!
Travel Journal Watercolor Illustration - Doodlewash


Recommended6 recommendationsPublished in By Charlie
  1. Mary Roff 4 years ago

    Wonderful painting and post tonight, Charlie. I remember receiving one of those travel alarm clocks for Christmas one year when I was a kid. Always thought it was a strange gift for a child with no travel plans. LOL now I am feeling very old.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 years ago

      Thanks, Mary! 😃💕hehe… it’s an awesome gift! I would have thought it was the coolest thing ever if I’d received one as a kid!

  2. Lisa 4 years ago

    Funny, I was just thinking of a travel journal I kept when I was on a semester abroad. It’s in a box in the basement somewhere. It’s all out of shape because I kept stuffing keepsakes, like beer coasters, in it. The binding still holds, but it’s pretty rickety. If I had it to do all over again, I would take paints and brushes along.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 years ago

      Hehe… that’s awesome, Lisa! 😃💕 The very fact that it’s misshapen due to beer coasters is simply fantastic!! Love that! lol

  3. Sandra Strait 4 years ago

    I’ve had several of those clocks over the years. Well, most of them were my parents. We’d take them on our travels and forget to pack them when we came home. As the years went by, they got cheaper (manufacture-wise) and less reliable. I wonder if they even make them any more, now that people have apps instead of gadgets. I’m pretty sure I’ve had the same journal, too! You did a fabulous job painting both items!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 years ago

      Thanks so much, Sandra! 😃💕 Yeah, I love these items… they’re so much fun. The clock still works just find, but you have to wind it, of course. I miss things built to last.

  4. Anita Sinha 4 years ago

    Nice doodlewash with your vintage trio….Sometimes reading handwritten old journals or letters is such fun and also reminds me how time has flown so quickly….

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 years ago

      Thanks so much, Anita! 😃💕 Yeah, so true! It seems like decades have past since I wrote those words there. So much has happen since then!

  5. smzang 4 years ago

    The quote I chose today surprises even me…Charlie says, “I finally figured out a way to do it that works for me.”

    I love the wisdom. What surprises me is that as I read it, I immediately heard Old Blue Eyes singing “I Did it My Way”
    It was as clear a vocal and a visual as if he were in this room. It kinda blew my mind. Amazing that your travel journal
    would take me on such a journey. Thank you!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 years ago

      Thanks, Sarah! 😃💕 As easy as it seems to do things our way, it’s easier to be influenced by others. I’ve finally figured out a way to share what I’ve learned on this art journey in a way that fits me like a glove. I’ll be sharing it in the next couple of weeks! 😉

  6. Claire McArthur 4 years ago

    When I was 22 and traveling Europe a clock like that almost got me shot… a slight exaggeration but the clock and some nearby pewter jewellery set off an alarm at an East German checkpoint. Under armed guard I was marched to an office and my bag was searched. When the clock surfaced they just told be brusquely in German & sign language to take my bag and go – I have never repacked a bag so quickly :). Once again your quick doodle has raised memories from my youth. Thank you 🙂

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 years ago

      Wow!! That’s an amazing story! I can’t imagine how scary that must have felt. But funny moment when they just told you to leave. hehe… certainly an unforgettable trip! 😃💕

  7. Moony 4 years ago

    Hi Charlie,

    I have a question about your technique. How do you scan your watercolour pictures? They always looks so bright and without any shadow. Do you have some tips about it?


  8. Sharon Nolfi 4 years ago

    My older brother had one of those leather case alarm clocks. He used it as a student at UC Berkeley from 1958-1962 and later as a grad student at MIT. I’m ten years younger than him, and I used a cheap plastic electric alarm clock when I went to college. But I remember my brother’s clock very clearly – somehow I always thought of it as something only men could own. One of the benefits of reading your blog is how it so often evokes my own memories of days past.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 years ago

      So thrilled this brought back good memories, Sharon! 😃💕I adore this clock… it’s such a cool object. Fun that you used your brother’s! That’s awesome. I wish they still made things this interesting and thoughtfully made. So much that’s made today is on the cheap and it shows! hehe

  9. LoriCtoo 4 years ago

    Love it! My grandparents used to bring the same clock with them when they visited. I can still see my grandma winding up before bedtime. Thanks for the great memory!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 years ago

      Thanks so much, Lori! 😃💕Yeah, when I found the clock with journal I knew I had to include it! Awesome that it brought back memories of your grandparents!

  10. June Hadaway 4 years ago

    So cool, I have a similar travel clock only a round one. I actually wish it still worked. That certainly is a lovely journal. I am sure, filled with a lot of wonderful memories.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 years ago

      Thanks, June! 😃💕 Yeah, as excited as I was about the journal discovery, I had to test the clock first and it still works! The pages are actually mostly blank… I’ve never been able to keep my journaling going until I started this blog! 😉

  11. mlaiuppa 4 years ago

    My very first, independent trip to Europe I bought a small travel diary and attempted to journal my trip. I had tried and failed at a daily diary several times in my life so I worked hard to try to write something every day. I did take lots of photos (slides which I must digitize one of these days.) Since then I have started a private blog diary inspired by a friend and try to write something every day even if it is just an account of the day’s activities. After I retired and took up watercolor I took a trip to Italy to take a watercolor class on journaling, something I had never done or even heard of. That was just paintings. Now I think I need to explore combining the two, doing sketches plus writing a bit about it to document my travels.

    I have a vintage travel clock very much like that one that I still like to use when I travel domestically. It winds up so no danger of dead batteries. It even has levers to set the day of the week and the day of the month. I love that part. My phone might go dead but that clock will still tick away and wake me up.

    Your journal looks lovely. I’ll bet the leather is still soft and has that wonderful smell. I hope to eventually make a leather cover for my watercolor sketchbooks so that they will feel and smell as wonderful while I paint.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 years ago

      Thanks so much! 😃💕 That’s awesome to hear that you’re journaling with words as well. I think it’s a wonderful combo. It’s an expression of two different minds… both visual and verbal. So it brings a full picture to truly illustrate things. And that’s awesome you still use a clock like this… I’m thinking about it now that I’ve rediscovered it. It still works!! And you should totally make those covers for your sketchbooks… that sounds amazing!

  12. sunniesmybunnies 4 years ago

    This is awesome 🙂

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