I landed in USA only thirty days ago and I've already experienced a glorious sensory overload. After a lifetime of exposure to American pop culture, I assumed I had it worked out on the first day. How wrong I was. America is a Cabaret show filled with charismatic emcees, haunting clowns and beautiful dancers.
LA's Venice Boulevard stayed true to its affectionate nickname, La La Land. Surfer dudes held large cardboard signs reading 'Need Money for Penis Reduction' while old wizards offered 'Shitty Advice for a Buck'. I spent a short two hours carpooling down to incredible San Diego with a friendly Mexican guy and his girlfriend on their way to Tijuana. He could not speak more highly on San Diego Zoo, so I obliged him and went (see below).
This is where I opened up my sketchbook, kindly gifted to me by my amazing friends and colleagues at Forethought Research.
Since then, I've had it on me the entire time. The most rewarding thing about traveling alone is the amount of time you can spend in your own head. You often miss out on that in the grind of daily life. Though I've always loved drawing, I've underestimated how relaxing and meditative it can be until this year. Artists of any medium are on a constant search for a particular style to define themselves in an otherwise crowded creative world. I've found that once I genuinely let go of trying to find a style, I tapped into some really exciting and unexpected results. Many of which I'm still surprised I created.
Most of these drawings were created in public. It's surprising how much interest you generate from the people around you. I spotted a Mexican photography group taking photos of me while drawing the Botanical Building at Balboa Park (above). This triggered a conversation and exchange of our works. As a result, I have a place to stay in Mexico if I decide to head down :) If my work can generate that kind of joy and amusement, I'm more than happy to keep creating.
One major lesson I've learnt so far is to enjoy surprises, they happen for a reason. I was generously invited on a road trip with two beautiful Danish girls from San Diego to San Francisco. We stopped in Las Vegas for a couple nights and I was astonished at how much money that town wanted me to have. I accepted Vegas' kind offer. When leaving however, the girls made a rookie mistake of giving me the map. Unlike most men, I am awful at reading maps. Two hours into our drive I noticed a sign for Salt Lake City in Utah... We were meant to head North for Lake Tahoe in Nevada. We ended up in a sleepy town named 'Mesquite'. The man at the visitor centre told us that we missed our exit a while ago and would need to travel diagonally across the Nevada desert to get back on track. I'd have to say it was the best mistake I've ever made. I've never been so overwhelmed by landscapes before. Hence the above drawing done in the back seat of our Volkswagen Golf.
I leave San Fran for Portland in two days. I've spent the past three days at Outside Lands Music Festival. Spending all that time up the front row for Foo Fighters, Regina Spektor, Alabama Shakes, Niel Young and Fitz and the Tantrums to name a few, does require a bit of reflection time. I'm guessing my next post will include a response to some of that plus more drawings from observation. I still have 60 days here, let's make them count :)