Journal Ideas on the Run

The last year has seen a steep increase in my travel time. Which means I fly a lot and stay in a lot of hotels. Traveling can be lonely, and eating out every night is not the luxury it might seem. I don’t have a fat expense account, my diet is pretty rigid, and after a while, the idea of another Cesar salad makes me scowl. But this post is not about traveling, it’s about journal ideas when I’m traveling.

A muted wallpaper with several shades of blue and gray.

A muted wallpaper with several shades of blue and gray.

Hotels have a practical purpose to their carpets–they have to hide dirt and look trendy. Wallpaper has to be background to art and doorways and bedspreads are vanishing in favor of the bedroom equivalent of a table runner–a piece of fabric placed across the foot of the bed to remind you that there used to be bedspreads.

I photograph the patterns and then copy the idea into my journal. I may use different colors, sometimes I alter the scale, and sometimes I print out the photo and simply transfer it into my journal for color and shape use in a future project.

hotel2No matter how tired I am or how reluctant my brain is to write, the colors and patterns of walls, bedcovers, and floors provide endless design interest. Sometimes the design seems to emerge from the way-back machine (when, exactly, did that carpet above debut?).

hotel4On the other hand, from a design standpoint, the carpet above is interesting. I like the circles within circles, and the lines in the background gives depth to the whole thing. It was, in fact, the beginning of an idea for a Gelli Plate pattern I worked on. With different colors, it had an updated look.

hotel6Sometimes the wallpaper is simply interesting. This one was pleated, but irregularly. I loved the effect, which was limited to the elevator area. A whole hallways of orange and gold would have been too much–this wasn’t Vegas, it was Washington, D.C.

hotel1This coverlet detail above reminds me of my favorite “I can’t cut straight lines” solution. The fact that it is not symmetrical makes it even more appealing.

hotel5Oranges and earthtones seem to be having their heyday. Again. Which is why I liked this neutral-with-red striped bed covering in Dallas. The rest of the room picked up colors from this palette and made it effective for a small room. Another palette I’m saving for later use. I would not have mixed the pale gray-green into this mix, and the bit of pale apricot really works.

hotel7Bold works, too. I wouldn’t want this carpet in my home, but it was the inspiration for a collage I did that wound up in Joan Bess’s book, Gelli Plate Printing. The pattern-within-a-pattern was appealing.

Pg124Bessbk(p. 124 of Joan Bess’s book with my poppy collage, above). Inspiration is just that–an idea that you like, reworked in some other way. Because the poppy-carpet photo-transfer was in my journal, I began to play with the idea of poppies in collage. You never know where it will lead you.

Who would have thought that wallpaper and carpeting would be such an interesting addition to a journal? These walls did talk, after all!

-Quinn McDonald is a training developer and trainer. She teaches writing all over the U.S. and Canada. She is a certified creativity coach.

 

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14 thoughts on “Journal Ideas on the Run

  1. Looooved that first carpet. I remember the palette/designs from my scrapbook papers a few years back.
    I take a lot of pictures of everything but they are “for the record”. I´ll spare you the lot of ramblings about “memory” that I thought after writing that.

  2. I thought I was the only one who did this! I got an idea for one of my Halloween cards and a thank you card from the carpet and the upholstery on a chair in a hotel where my friends and I were staying. They thought I was crazy when I took pictures of it all and then, we all laughed when they received the cards and there were the designs! Now, when I stay in a hotel, I take a picture of the carpet and send it to them. “What can I make next?” or “Wow! This one is crazy! I’ll have to think about this one a bit.” Glad to know that I’m not the only one! Thank you for sharing!

  3. I woke up in the recovery room of the surgical center two years ago to the most intriguing curtain material! Couldn’t remember it when I got home, but I knew it was interesting. So when my husband needed a hernia repair, I made sure I took my camera along and took a photo of the curtain material while he was waiting to be wheeled in to surgery. The nurse thought I was a little nuts but she laughed when I told her that I’d remembered it from two years ago!

  4. Wow, I love that you noticed and took the time to take these photos! Such interesting colors, patterns and textures. Thanks for sharing!

  5. So glad I’m not the only one that runs through hotels photographing everything from artwork to carpets. 🙂 The difference is you really make use of those photos and I lose them somewhere in the electronic repository. This inspires me to go dig them out! Thank you.

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