Mission Statement

This blog journals my quest of art, whether it is a piece of work that is inherent in nature or one created by artists known or unknown or that I created myself. During this search, I have come to appreciate the magnificence and generosity of God who in his infinite wisdom surrounded us with exquisiteness everyday...everywhere and inspired our human spirit to create beauty that feeds our bodies and souls. Come join me on my journey to find art through my travels and my own creative endeavors. Maraming salamat.

All rights to all posts and contents on this blog, including photos and artwork are reserved by jojo sabalvaro tan.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Watercolor Travel Journal - The Trip Home From Florida

My brother and sister-in-law  joined us in Florida to accompany us on our trip back home to Illinois. Our route took us along the Atlantic Coast with stops at Savannah, GA, Charleston, SC and Asheville, NC . We  also traversed the states of Tennessee, Kentucky and Indiana. The whole trip, at more than 1400 miles and 21 hours driving time, took us almost 3 days with overnight stops. Along the way, we passed by some of the most spectacular vistas - the banks of the Atlantic, marshes and estuaries,  marinas that made you wish you are a sailor, the enchanting Blue Ridge Mountains ,  farmlands of Kentucky lush with its blue grass and cows grazing and some of the most historic cities dating back to the birth of this nation where the plight of the new settlers come alive.

Here are some of my sketches from the trip:

We've Got "Georgia on our Mind in Savannah, Georgia
The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist 2015
Savannah, GA
From the Watercolor Travel Journal
by jojo sabalvaro tan

Driving into Savannah, Georgia, I was immediately taken by canopy of trees covering the quaint cobblestone trees. This being springtime, the azaleas are in full bloom adding sparks of color everywhere. The buildings restored or kept up to retain their old glory were majestically set. Our first stop was The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist on Lafayette Square. This cathedral built between 1873 and 1876 is a great example of French Gothic architecture. I love the cerulean blue ceiling and the stained glass windows. It was raining when we got to Savannah and they were predicting a tropical storm. Storms in this area are no joke, so our chances of seeing more of the city became quickly limited. We  felt the trip was worth it even if all we saw was the cathedral.

Lunch was at Mellow Mushroom a pizza joint with a very funky and lively vibe. We sat in a special booth hand-painted with portrait's of famous musicians. What a treat and the Holy Shiitake Pie pizza was delicious - one of the best. We wanted to take one of the trolley tours around the historic district but by the time we left the restaurant it was raining hard.

We did manage a short stop at the city market , a  four block square of shops and restaurants including one that belongs to Paula Deen, The Lady and Sons. After purchasing some mementos and a quick peek at Paula Deen's store,  the shops closed.

"Summertime and the Livin' is Easy" in Charleston, South Carolina

Sweetgrass Basket Weaver 2015
Charleston, SC
From the Watercolor Travel Journal
by jojo sabalvaro tan
In Charleston, we joined a carriage ride tour around Charleston. To avoid traffic congestion in the narrow streets, each carriage participates in a lottery where lettered balls are placed in a drum and whichever letter comes out will indicate which route the carriage will take. We headed west which took us all the way to the waterfront. Here is another city that fully dedicates itself to preserving its cultural heritage so much so that you immediately get the feeling of being transported back to the colonial times as we trotted around.  Just like many cities/towns in the southern states with access to the sea , Charleston's history was embroiled in the slave trade and the American Revolution.  Here I had another one of those belt-out-a-song moments, this time the song Summertime, when I remembered that the play Porgy and Bess was set in. Press on the title to hear Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald's version of the song.

The City Market, which has functioned as a meat and produce market  and a place to gather and socialize since the 17th century, is now a place where vendors sell all manner of goods and the Gullah people (or Geechees) hawk the traditional sweetgrass woven baskets. I wanted to get one of the baskets as a souvenir until I saw the price. One small basket, the size of a small astray, can run as much as $50, maybe more. I think that if they price these baskets more reasonably, they will make more money in volume sales. But my guess is there is no need to since people are buying them no matter what the price is anyway.
 Keeping up with the Vanderbilts in Asheville, North Carolina
The Gate House Shop 2015
Biltmore Estate, Asheville, NC
From the Watercolor Travel Journal
by jojo sabalvaro tan
I really wanted to see the Chateau-style mansion owned by the Vanderbilts , a prominent family whose wealth stem from their shipping and railroad empires during the gilded age, a time of rapid US economic growth in the late 19th century.  The Biltmore Mansion is said to be the largest private residence in the US. The mansion was designed Richard Morris Hunt and the grounds by Frederick Law Olmstead, both preeminent figures in American Architecture.

The last time I was in Asheville, NC to see the Biltmore Estate, we arrived there when it was already closed so all I saw of it was the gatehouse and the estate gift shop. This time around, it was still open but only for about a half hour more, certainly not worth the price of entrance. So once again, I am disappointed and have to console myself with looking at the gatehouse and of course, shopping at the lovely little gift shop.

  Looking for "Dueling Banjos" at the Great Smoky Mountains, North Carolina to Tennessee

The Great Smoky Mountains 2015
Along Route 441 North Carolina to Tennessee
From the Watercolor Travel Journal
by jojo sabalvaro tan
The Great Smoky  Mountains are part of the Blue Ridge Chain and a sub range of the Appalachian Mountains. The Smokies get their name from the fog that hangs over the range that looks like large smoke plumes from afar. I don't often attempt to sketch or paint  landscapes since I can not put to paper or canvas the magnificence, grandeur, glory I see. Many artists have been able to do so and their art are sublime representations of God's creation. With a lot of reservation,  I  took a crack at sketching The Smoky Mountains on my watercolor journal. I reminded myself that I was not striving for perfection or making a masterpiece but just to capture a moment that made an impression on me. When we  crossed North Carolina to Tennesssee on  the Great Smoky Mountains, a UNESCO World Heritage site, it was just around the time when the sky was ablaze as the sun was beginning to set  and the mountains appeared in ombre shades of blue. It was so breathtaking, My sketch did not come close to the scenery that unfolded then but I know when I see this sketch the memory of what I witnessed will keep coming back   .
"Grazin' in the Grass is a Gas"  in Kentucky Blue Grass That Is

Grazing Cows 2015
From the Watercolor Travel Journal
by jojo sabalvaro tan
Cows, cows everywhere. It's springtime and the cows are all out grazing on the lush blue grass of Kentucky and every other state we passed by. The preponderance of cattle sightings all over made me want to include a sketch of a cow or cows in my travel journal.  It is a normal everyday sight in the farmlands of America but after a long winter of being cooped up, seeing the cattle out there in the newly green fields of spring is somehow such a welcome and pleasant sight.  

There's a "Traffic Jam " in Indianapolis, Indiana

Traffic Drum Barricades 2015
From the Watercolor Travel Journal
by jojo sabalvaro tan
You can't drive across America without seeing these orange traffic drum barricades on the highway, more so in springtime when repairs to the havoc brought about by the cold, snowy winter on the roads become apparent. Spring is also the start of road construction season - new roads and bridges are built and old ones restored. We avoided most of the large constructions by taking mostly country roads on this road trip. But, we cannot fully avoid highway driving. In Indianapolis, for example, we came to a full stop on the expressway running into the much dreaded "highway parking lot syndrome."  This can cause an inconvenient travel delay of more than an hour or so. For my watercolor travel journal, I wanted to include a sketch of these traffic barricades, an omnipresent sight on any road trip.

Road trip anyone?

  • These sketches, along with the others featured on the On the Road Gain - The Roundabouts 2300 Miles See The USA Road Trip ( links below) were painted on Strathmore Windpower  140 lb cold press 6" x 9" spiral sketchbook using artist watercolors. Some of the paintings were sketched with a pencil and the lines gone over with a pen and then watercolor was applied, on others  I just sketched with a pen and then added watercolor. I'm not sure which technique I like better. I think it really depends on the subject matter.

  • Can you tell that the subtitles are derived from songs about the featured areas?

Please check out these related blogs

On the Road Again - The Roundabouts 2300 Miles See the USA Road Trip Part 1
On the Road Again - The Roundabouts 2300 Miles See the USA Road Trip Part 2
On the Road Again - The Roundabouts 2300 Miles See the USA Road Trip Part 3

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