A little over a year ago, I embarked on a trip to Italy offered through Sheridan College. A group of us went and had a marvelous time exploring Rome, Florence, Bologna and Venice. At the end of it all, we were challenged to come up with a thesis project commemorating something meaningful to us about our month in Italy.
Throughout the trip, we used journals to record our experiences. Going to a new place even for a month can overwhelming as you take in new sights and a new culture. I took my journal wherever we went and wrote in it as I was having these new experiences, and this way I could read over them later and collect my thoughts. Rereading the journal entries was like opening a window back in time, and so this is what I chose to base my thesis on.
The scene is based on the frequent visits I made to Florence's Giardino delle Rose (The Rose Garden). After walking all day in 40°C weather (it gets pretty steamy in Italy), gardens became my favourite places. The Boboli and Giardino Bardini are also nice to check out in Florence. Probably my favourite outdoor place was the Roman Forum, with it's great ruins and hidden crevices.
I chose the Rose Garden in Florence because it was such a rejuvenating place, teeming with flowers of all kinds and little green lizards. My one regret is that I did not place a lizard in the final illustration! The scene I illustrated was cut from paper (including all the little windows). The book itself was sewn together using the coptic stitch technique, with the "journal" pages hollowed and glued together to frame the inner paper world. The paper on the book covers also bears a traditional Florentine pattern.
It sounds selfish, but I believe travelling is one of the best ways to reconnect with yourself and your work. Seeing yourself and others in a new context and recording your responses to a new environment are invaluable ways of discovering the world around you and yourself. One thing I learned from the trip is to feed your passions, which in turn feeds your creativity.
That and gelato is amazing ;)