As an aspiring artist, one of my favorite things to draw are environments. There’s something freeing about being able to create settings from your imagination, or adding an unfamiliar twist to an ordinary scene – it’s satisfying, after pouring hours of detail into buildings and trees and landscapes, to see it all come together as one cohesive scene, inspired by the mental library of architecture and landscapes I’ve seen from all the places I’ve traveled.
My fondest memory of travel lies within Italy, both because of its stunning architecture, and because of the memories I’ve made there. It was the summer of 8th grade, and my family and I were excited about this trip- we had three weeks to spend before going to India, and they were packed with places and monuments to see. In Rome, we visited the Coliseum, an imposing building rich in history, dating back to the Roman empire. I still have sketches of the arches and curves of the building, but what I remember most clearly is having mock sword fights with my brother. Armed with our mighty weapons, the travel brochure and the can of sunscreen, we fought until the bitter end. We were sweaty and tired and covered in dust, but we didn’t care. When I first learned of our trip to Rome, I was excited about the opportunities I’d have for drawing, but I ended up gaining an even better experience.
A week later, we had left Rome, and were at the leaning tower of Pisa- the spectacular location of hundreds of tourists posing in very similar ways. And of course, as part of the tourist experience, we did the same. Leaning against the tower, holding it up, pushing it, even eating it- we tried it all. It was ridiculous, it was hilarious, and it perfectly summed up my relationship with my family. I never did get any drawing done that day, but when we arrived back at the hotel the next morning, the first thing I did was sketch out those ridiculous poses in my sketchbook.
What I’ve learned from travel is to treasure the memories. I’ve always loved drawing environments, but I’ve learned that having memories and stories to accompany those environments make them even better. Recently, I’ve taken to drawing environments for a story I have planned out, all in the same universe, and I can honestly say that the best settings, the ones that people are drawn to the most, are the ones inspired by memories of my own travels- the hilarious ones, the happy ones, and the ones I’ll never forget. Travel has been a big part of my life, and I hope sharing my experiences in Italy will help illustrate how travel can change perspectives and shape imaginations.
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