For many of us, even at the best of times, overseas travel is not an option due to work and family commitments and/or the insurmountable expense of going abroad, so we have to make do with living vicariously through others. But the current circumstances have made international travel all but impossible for most of Earth’s citizens. While in some places tourism has resumed, albeit with restrictions and caveats, the majority of countries remain closed to overseas adventurers. But that doesn’t mean we can’t still be adventurers, because, while we might be physically confined, our imaginations are not. All humans are equipped with this immense creative power: the ability to see with our mind’s eye. If your mind’s eye needs a bit of prodding, inspiration can always be found from photos of a long-ago trip lingering on a portable hard drive since you returned, unused and rarely viewed (I’m so guilty of this). Failing that there is always the internet with its myriad of images. There are plenty of sites for good quality free pictures. A favourite of mine is Paint My Photo, which photographers use to share their images with artists to paint or draw using traditional mediums. You can share within the community or on your social media profiles, or just keep it for your own enjoyment. Photographers in the community love seeing their compositions illustrated, especially if you have used it in an original way. It’s also a good way to get supportive feedback on your artwork and test your skills. Other free photo repositories are Pixabay, Unsplash and Pexels to name a few. (Side note: If you plan on selling your work it’s a good idea to check the rights and if you need the their permission. The penalties for copyright infringement are enormous, so err on the side of caution and make sure you know the rules).
In 2006 I went to Bangkok and Phuket, Thailand. I took hundreds of photos, but I’ve never had them developed and I didn’t keep a travel journal. It’s been a long time and my impressions are no longer fresh, so I’m not inclined to create artistic impressions from them, even post-dated ones. Nevertheless, the photos do give me inspiration and I can still use them in other projects. One such photo I found recently, shown below, is of a boat wrecked in the 2004 typhoon that devastated the entire region and changed the look of Phuket’s beaches. At the time, I took the photo because the wreck stood out and spoke of the significant impact the typhoon had on the lives and economy of the local community. The boat had been stripped of as much as possible, its parts reused to rebuild the community. When I looked at the photo more recently, though, I saw a whole new story and was inspired to use it to sketch a loose thumbnail for a project I’m working on. Though it’s not a faithful rendering of the photo, I wanted to capture that feeling of abandonment and raise some new questions about why it was there in the shallows of a populated bay. From this one photo, the thumbnail will be developed in to a two-page spread for a travel journal (with a twist) I’m working on.
So, if you’re pining for the road, collect a bunch of photos from your own collection or the internet, pick up a pen and a sketchbook, and let your nomadic heart wander.