What would you do if you could take a year out of your normal life and go anywhere you wanted; with only the long road ahead to lead you to your next destination? Well, Watercolor Artist Don Getz had a chance to find out and he took it.
Don is from Ohio, and has lived there most of his life. For the majority of that time, he was content to stay there, with his lovely wife and family, and paint. For years, he produced art, taught workshops, made instructional videos, and journaled to his heart’s content. However, as we all know, things change whether we want them to or not.
“Since teaching watercolor from 1967, I have always cherished the idea of doing a country-wide tour while having the opportunity to see America’s back roads and teaching as I traveled. After losing my dear wife, Judie, last August, to COPD, and not getting any younger, I considered myself up to the task and made plans to teach my favorite techniques to students all around the nation.
Planning for the tour started in February, as I looked at my “bucket list” for those things which I wanted to achieve in my artistic life. I’ve enjoyed sharing my art knowledge with fellow artists for over fifty years. It’s a joy sketching & painting ‘en plein air, over being in a studio. Journaling can be done anywhere; on a ship, a train, car or whatever. This makes it ideal for seniors who can’t or won’t lug an easel and other items used in sketching and painting.” Don Getz
So, Don had this idea that he would sell his home, store his possessions, and hit the road. He, then, approached Cheap Joe’s with the opportunity to ride along with him and enhance his traveling workshops with Goodies and materials to use along the way.
With his van loaded to the max, Don headed out on his tour in September 2012.
This blog includes Don’s last entries in his journal with sketches and notes from his final weeks on the road. Don arrived home in the middle of September and is now settling in and working on his new journaling book.
“I submit a pic of my ‘studio on wheels’… No cute name as it was just a utilitarian method of traveling and making the trip comfortable, especially with the XM radio tuned to the appropriate soft jazz station, Watercolor – 66 on the dial!
I would do my sketching in the driver’s seat and then shift to the passenger’s seat, so that I could use the console to place my palette with the water cup in the cup holder – worked like a charm for windy or misty days.”
“I used my ‘artist’s license’ on this sketch. The building was a miserable shade of gray, so I kept it white, added a metal roof and accent colors.
Now I was happy!”
“Same town, same parking lot, as it was…”
“I find it hard to pass an old tractor, even when it adorns some old farmer’s front yard. The background has been greatly simplified to keep focus on the subject.”
“I remained after the class session and sketched the left part of the ‘river walk’, leaving a portion of the ink drawing for viewers to fill in what’s missing.”
“Quite a bit of sketching here, but I used my ‘plexi’ time saver, doing only the outlines of each building that I wanted in the sketch; transferring those shapes (REMEMBER, that we are drawing shapes, NOT things!) to the journal and then filling in the shapes of windows, etc… Only that which is needed. This two pager is the river walk which I did my class demo on the right page.”
“I drove up to northern Michigan, to sketch the old Mission Lighthouse, getting there late in the afternoon, so I had to work fast, before I lost the sun… Didn’t change a thing… Even the three barrels -imagine they represented whale oil storage (or booze?).”
“I somehow managed the time to pull off the pavement and do this sky study – which might well be the first ever for me… It was just too great to pass up. Yes, it was almost dark by the time I laid in the color washes.”
“Back in Manistee – second workshop there – I liked this old building in the town center, but I wanted to concentrate on just a part of it… note that I did not include a border which I felt was not needed.”
“Hearing about an old steam tractor meet in northern Michigan, I hit the road, after the second session in Manistee was finished, to sketch some of the action – which was plentiful! … 16 steam tractors and over 200 farm tractors of all vintage. At 7am there were 16 steam whistles sounding off, one after another! Time to get to work… Great stuff!”
“On the way south, passing through Holland, Michigan, I spied this authentic Dutch windmill; stopped and got this sketch & back on the road to Saugatuck.”
“A very busy vacation town, I took the class to this quiet cove for the morning project. As much as I would like to believe, a typical day was one sketch in the morning; possibly two after lunch, as we often sketched until 5pm. … Too much camaraderie.”
“Near Saugatuck, but a very likeness to camps in the Adirondacks which I simply had to draw… a good portion of the buildings were hidden by foliage… again, I used my “artist’s license”!
“On the back roads to Ohio, I stopped at the Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners -yes, that’s the nearest cross roads with a U.S. Post Office – and managed this brief sketch of a Classic Duesenberg. Get to Gilmore, as they have done great things, five new buildings and more under construction!”
Arriving, back in Ohio, I made sure by stopping at Swenson’s Drive-In, for a Galleyboy sandwich… Yes! I was home a week before my year on the road was up with over 13,000 miles behind me. My only regret… the trip ended one year too soon ! I had a fantastic time, to say the least!
I am in the process of writing a book on my “Odyssey” and am planning to add a few sessions on using the ‘plexi aid’, which really speeds up your sketching of buildings and other shapes… There I said it again – draw shapes, not things!
Good luck with your sketching and do it EVERY day!!
In conclusion, I wish to thank my son, Jeff, for the idea and tech assistance in creating my tour blog, Cheap Joe’s Art Stuff for sponsoring my trip, and MonaLisa for getting the ‘care’ packages, full of Goodies, out to all the workshop locations and keeping the Cheap Joe’s Sketchbook blog up to date.
Good work, guys!!
Don has logged in over 13,000 miles around the country during his yearlong U.S. Odyssey Journaling Tour 2012-2013. He has conducted many workshops and passed on a wealth of information about journaling to hundreds of students. Don has filled many sketchbooks with countless sketches and paintings of everything from the everglades of Florida to the scenes of Yellowstone. He has spent the last year of his life living out of his van and moving in and out of motels across country. He is now ready to focus on compiling the material, sketches and all of his stories and adventures into a completely hand-illustrated book about his odyssey.
Cheap Joe’s has been proud to sponsor and follow along with Don during the past year and cheer him on from the sidelines. He has chosen many Cheap Joe’s fine art products to chronicle his adventure on the road. Don believes in slimming down your supplies to include just the few items above to keep your journaling kit portable, lightweight, and convenient. He knows if you will keep the supplies with you, you will be more likely to take the time to journal anywhere! You really only need just a few things to get started and get going!
While following along with Don for the last year, he has taught me an immense amount about journaling. The best tip that I acquired from Don was the plexiglass panel and dry erase marker technique for transferring complex scenes to your sketchbook very quickly. What a time saver!
For my tracing panel, I chose a convenient product that was already cut to size, the 9×12 Optical Quality Poly-Glass Sheet designed for use in framing. It was perfect, very reasonably priced, and readily available from Cheap Joe’s! I used a common black fine tip dry eraser marker which I purchased from the Dollar Store and I had everything I needed to try out Don’s neat trick. The idea is to steady the clear panel in front of the scene and trace the most important details on the plexiglass panel. Then, hover the panel over your sketchbook page and draw what you see underneath on the page. It is a little tricky, but after a while you get the hang of it and it saves you an enormous amount of time! Don uses this technique quite frequently while journaling outside. The results are incredible!
So, what would you do if you had the same opportunity? It is only you that can answer that question. I think Don had the right idea not to wait for the perfect time to do something you’ve always wanted to do. There will never be a perfect time only an available time and some of us have trouble finding that!
to explore your dreams,
to travel and see the world beyond your home town,
to share your talent and passion with others,
to fulfill the desires of your heart.
Make the time, or it will never be there until you do.
I hope you have enjoyed this adventure with Don Getz as much as I have. Don has given us all something to think about and now we must find our own “odyssey”, our own adventure, our own special passion to pursue.
Thank You, Don, for letting us participate with you on this incredible journey around the U.S. and Good Luck to you on your next “bucket list” entry! We eagerly await your book and all of the wonderful sketches you have produced during your trip. Thank you also for sharing your tips and tricks for more productive watercolor journaling and we hope to see you again along life’s road in the near future!
Have a Happy “Make Time To Live” Day and get out there and do something extraordinary today!
Happy Painting… Keep Your Brushes Wet and Your Pages Full of You!