Welcome to Moment Catchers
Hello! My name is Candace, and I'm a sketch artist with a passion for helping you connect with the world through art. Pull out your sketchbook and watercolors and find your favorite view — I'm glad you're here!

UPDATE: I’m currently inviting you to share a new story of connection from Asia here. I can’t wait to read your stories!

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“Since you cannot do good to all, you are to pay special attention to those who, by the accidents of time, or place, or circumstances, are brought into closer connection with you.”
— Augustine of Hippo

Last Friday, I set up what I expected to be a very simple giveaway on the blog. As a [very honored and excited] contributor to the latest Lonely Planet Travel Anthology, I’d received two copies of the book from the publisher, and to help share in my excitement for being part of the collection, I decided to give away one of the copies here.

I kept the method of entering the giveaway fairly straightforward—I merely asked people to leave a comment on the post, answering the following question:

What was your favorite travel experience?

I wrote up a quick post to announce the giveaway, snapped a few photos of the anthology to use across social media, and hit ‘publish’—after that, all there was left to do was wait.

Lonely Planet Travel Anthology

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For the rest of the day that Friday, I was supposed to be working on an Etsy painting commission—but I couldn’t help taking frequent breaks to refresh the post and see what comments had come in. The last time I ran a giveaway here on the blog, reading people’s responses had been my favorite part of the process, so again my curiosity was high.

And again, my curiosity was not disappointed. Within minutes of publishing the post, there was a comment from my long-time online friend Pauline, sharing about her time on the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage trail through northwest Spain:

“I have SO MANY amazing travel experiences. If I have to choose just one, I think it would have to be from the Camino. Our group of walkers all checked into the same albergue in Los Arcos. Come dinner time, we decided to go to a tiny bar in front of the cathedral. We ended up taking every single seat and keeping the bartenders busy the entire night—it was like our own private party in the middle of Spain. I loved every moment that night, and I’m always in awe of the connections you can make despite language barriers and cultural differences.”

By 10 p.m. that night, the post had around 45 comments. This was about the same number of entries my last giveaway had received, so the quantity wasn’t too surprising—but what did leave me altogether astonished were two other things.

First—the sheer breadth of places that you all mentioned. As I read through the comments, it felt as though I were almost flipping through an atlas: You wrote about Canada and Cambodia, Slovenia and Sri Lanka, Scotland and South Africa. Other memories were from Mexico, Morocco, and Mongolia, and from Bhutan, Bangladesh, and Botswana. It seemed like there was no corner of the world you all hadn’t traversed—from Peru to Portugal to a remote jungle village in Papau New Guinea; from Estonia to Easter Island to the Danakil Depression in Ethiopia.

Although I still had a little work left to do on my commission, I couldn’t help but set it aside one more time and pull out my notebook, which I normally reserve for to-do lists and schedules. With a ballpoint pen, I drew the most hastily drawn map the world has ever seen, settling for the mere suggestion of a continent’s shape instead of the exact shape itself. Then, with a blue highlighter, I went through each comment and placed one blue dot on the map for every one of your experiences.

By the time I was finished, I couldn’t believe what the map held—all in all, your favorite travel memories spanned 36 countries across five continents.

Hand-drawn map of the world

One very messy map to record the incredible breadth of your travel memories.

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But it was more than just the breadth of your responses that impressed me so deeply—it was the depth of the stories you shared.

So many of your responses went far beyond simply naming a place—you took the time to tell me why that place mattered to you, and I can’t tell you what an honor it was for me to read every story—once, twice, often three or four times, just to make sure I’d absorbed the details and little moments properly.

And as I kept reading through your comments (which soon tallied somewhere closer to 60 entries from six (!) continents), I was astonished by another thing: That while the location of your favorite travel memories varied greatly, there was one clear and common theme running through them, which had presented itself from the beginning in Pauline’s story about the Camino:

The power of connecting with others on our journeys.

Connection has become the very lifeblood of my vision and vocation, so it was a serious thrill to discover how many of you also place value on connecting with others. Here are just four of your stories that came to immediate life for me on the screen:

“In 1986, our Fiat Ritmo was traveling through Greece, fueled by my father’s love for classic history and my mother’s enthusiasm for beauty and nature. That old car of ours broke down twice, was towed, repaired, towed again, and didn’t manage to bring us to Mycenae in time for a visit. The archaeological site was already closed and the keeper was going home. When the man noticed my father’s delusion, he gave him a lemon as a present “for his little daughter.” To me, such a gift represents hospitality, friendship, and the value of little things.”

— Marianna

“Travel is such a wonderful opportunity to connect with people and one of my most amazing experiences was meeting a family in the village of Cassis in the south of France. My husband and I struck up a conversation with a woman and her young daughter at the train station, joined them and more of their family for coffee and patisserie at their home, stayed for drinks of the local liqueur and talk of family, genealogy, and local history, then returned the next day for a personal tour of the hillside neighborhood. It was such a lovely time, and we treasure the experience and the lasting friendship.”

— Gayla

“My favorite travel experience was on the overnight train from Zurich to Amsterdam this summer. I was leaning out the window in the corridor and a boy came up and joined me. We got to talking and I asked him if he would like to play chess, as I always carry a pocket chess set with me wherever I go. He said yes, and so we settled at the end of the carriage on the floor and played chess for the better part of the night!

I taught him a new version of chess my sister and I invested called anti-chess. I learned so much about Switzerland from him, and we talked about everything Swiss—Swiss cheese, Roger Federer, the Bernina Pass. Next morning, he asked for my name just so he could give me credit when he taught anti-chess to all his friends. We wished each other the best of luck and parted ways. I don’t know anything about him, except that he made one mundane train journey through Europe very memorable for me!

Both Zurich and Amsterdam were beautiful to me, but I feel on any journey, it’s the people that make the trip magical.”

—Manalika

“One of my favorite travel moments arose from disappointment. I had made my way to Iskenderun, Turkey, late last winter, following rumors of the possibility of passage to Israel via boat. No boat, so I decided to head back north. I had five hours to fill on my last day in town and there was this one view that had been on my mind since I had arrived.

I make my way to the pier and settle in to sketch the waterfront and mountainous backdrop. I’m getting into the groove, soaking in the sun, weeding through the details, and at some point between outlining the view in pencil and picking up my pen to start inking, I am surrounded by wide eyes, curious smiles, and Turkish chatter. A group of kids had snuck up and wanted to see what I was doing.

I smile back, apologize for not knowing what they are saying, and hand over my stack of finished, painted postcards as a way to engage without words. They love the one with the pelican from Izmir. I get an idea. I point at my pen, then at them, miming drawing in the air, and get a round of enthusiastic nods and wider smiles.

I dig deep into my pack for extra paper, the parents have drawn closer at this point, questions of where I’m from, am I a student? Nope, tourist. One-word sentences back and forth, their English better than my Turkish. Out comes the paper, I hand around pens, and we’re huddled around my bench sketching away.

At some point drawing turns into a language lesson, I learn the words for bird (kuş) and foot (ayak), and I am being called abla (‘sister’—I love this Turkish custom). Drawings are signed and gifted to me, cheeks are kissed, I thank the parents for stopping, grateful for the connection, disappointment at not finding the boat forgotten.”

— Genevieve

Travel sketch by Genevieve Lacombe

Genevieve’s travel sketch from Iskenderun, Turkey.

Travel sketching with kids by Genevieve Lacombe

A few of the local children Genevieve connected with in Iskenderun.

Travel sketch by Genevieve Lacombe

To read more about Genevieve’s time in Turkey–and especially to see more of her wonderful sketches–visit her blog here.

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By the end of the weekend, I knew I had to do something—to honor your stories, and to thank you for taking the time to share them. And I decided that the perfect ‘something’ was to create a more finished version of that first messy map I drew.

Illustrated maps have long been a favorite sketching project of mine, but never before have I created one specifically for this blog. Usually, each red dot on one of my maps has the name of a place beside it. This map is a little different, though—next to each red dot below is one of your names, marking the location of your favorite travel experience. And each illustrated ‘vignette,’ or what I like to call the small sketches embedded in the map, also stands for one of the places you wrote about.

As I sat on the floor of San Salvador’s airport on Monday—painting the map during another seven-hour layover on my way back to Uruguay—I couldn’t help asking myself: Is this the start of something new? Perhaps we can all keep collaborating, sharing our stories and creating art that speaks to a real spirit of community and connection. (And if that sounds like something you’d like to see more of on this blog, please feel free to let me know.)

There’s a lot happening in the world right now that would lead us to believe how disconnected we are from each other—but if this map says anything, I believe it’s that connection is real, alive, and important to us all.

Geography of connection

Be sure to click on the map for a closer look at the names of everyone who contributed to it, as well as a few more excerpts from their stories.

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Thank you again for sharing your stories! I’ve also uploaded a high-res version of the map here, so please use or share it any way you like, or even print it out…nothing would make me happier.

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  • Gayla

    Candace, this is beyond beautiful and amazing and so very inspiring! Travel breaks down barriers and allows for such a wonderful human experience. Thank you for chronicling our journeys and encounters.

    • And thank *you* for contributing last week, Gayla! I’m so happy to hear you enjoyed the map, and I can’t wait to hopefully create another one here for us all soon 🙂

  • Chuck Dillon

    I’m sorry I missed the chance to submit a story but it was wonderful reading them and seeing your work.

    • Please keep thinking of a story, Chuck! I’m hoping to create another map of connection soon, so I’d love the chance to include a story from you then 🙂

  • manalika

    This is simply the most thoughtful and touching gesture I have ever seen anyone perform. Thank you so much Candace! Your map currently sits as my desktop background, where it will stay for a long time to come, proudly displayed.

    • Manalika, your kind words mean the world to me–thank you for taking the time to share them. It was an honor to include your story of that connection-filled train journey through Europe, so it’s wonderful to hear the map resonated with you!

  • Syowoe

    So cool. And such an uplifting experience at a time when those are rare. What a great idea. You are awesome.

    • Thank you so much for your kind words here, Syowoe, and thank you again for contributing! I loved getting to include your story from Cambodia, and am thrilled to hear the map resonated with you 🙂

  • susyflory

    I love it! Maybe there’s a book here :0)

    • susyflory

      And i have a story about Cuba….

      • Please hang onto it! I have a feeling I’ll be creating another map of connection very soon, so I would *love* to include that story from you, Susy. <3

    • My mom just said the same thing yesterday as well! It’s always fun to feel those wheels starting to turn in your mind, isn’t it? 🙂

  • Kathe Byrne

    Love, love, love!!! Tears of joy and connection. May I use this on the top of my FB page? If not that is fine.

    • I’m so happy to hear the map resonated with you, Kathe–and please feel free to use it anywhere you like! As long as you don’t mind attributing it with my name, I would be honored for you to use or share it in any way 🙂

  • Miriam

    Wow! This is way too cool! Thanks for awesome map you created!

    • I’m so glad you like the map, Miriam! And thank you again for contributing 🙂

  • Sunny Christian

    wow, I feel so privileged to be on your map Candace! and what fun to be there along with all the other adventurous souls. Thank you, bless you 🙂

    • Well it was a true privilege for me to receive your stories and get to share them on the map, Sunny! I loved working on the map and thinking about how many stories and adventures it represented 🙂 Sending those blessings right back to you! <3

  • Treava

    Candace, this is amazing. What a wonderful map full of life and stories. Thank you.

    • I’m so happy the map resonated with you, Treava–and thank you again for contributing last week! 🙂

  • Corinne Vail

    Candace, You have a gift. Yes, you can write. Yes, you can paint. But your true gift is that of caring, sharing, and loving all people. This is a beautiful idea! It made my day.

    • Corinne, I can’t thank you enough for your kind words here–they mean so much to me. Thank you again for contributing last week, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

  • Wow! What a truly fantastic idea to make a map of all the comments. Just lovely. We are all connected!!

    • Thank you so much, Kristine! I’m thrilled to hear the project resonated with you 🙂

  • Devika Agarwal

    What a beautiful project! You literally put me on the map 🙂

    • I’m so happy to hear you enjoyed the map, Devika 🙂 Thank you again for contributing to it!

  • Nice map!

  • Anne Harrison

    I’ve been looking for a world map for my blog – you’ve inspired me to make my own! Lovely post

    • I’m so happy to hear that, Anne! I started creating hand-drawn maps about 2.5 years ago, and swiftly fell in love with the process. I hope you enjoy it just as much 🙂

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  • parwatisingari

    wow enjoyed your writing, and I think I enjoyed the ancient mariner’s map the most.

    • Thank you so much, Parwati! I’m grateful to hear the post and map resonated with you 🙂

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  • Bernard

    Hello Candace,

    I just broke into tears while reading your post -by chance: I was glancing through the default ‘best content’ feed of the WP app.
    I’m currently traveling, and I really get what you mean: I just got a similar, connecting experience in San Pedro de Atacama.
    What’s more, the love you poured into this post is really touching. I want to do like you do. Thank you 😊
    That said, there is one thing that bothers me: most of the dots you put are located in Europe. This reminded me of a cruel truth: not everybody got the chance to travel. Damn, why? Why can’t everybody make great connections like this? 😣😢 Well, an other important factor is your blog’s audience, so I hope money’s not *that* critical. Also, not traveling doesn’t prevent you to make real connections where you live. I’d be glad for any thoughts you could share on that.
    Anyway, thanks again for your post, it still is really inspiring.

    Good luck on your side and cheers!

    Bernard

    • Hi Bernard! Thanks so much for taking the time out of your current journey to read this post and say hello–it’s great to hear from you. I was especially thrilled to hear that you just made a new connection in Chile…for me, those moments are the cornerstone on which my journeys are always built, and I hope the universe continues to send them your way as well.

      In terms of the questions you raised, I just thought I would point you to two other recent posts, to help share some broader context surrounding this map 🙂 The first post was a few weeks ago, when I planned to give away a book to one reader at random, and in order to enter the giveaway, I simply asked readers to comment and share about their favorite travel experience:

      http://www.candaceroserardon.com/2016/11/book-giveaway/

      I didn’t specify at all where the experience needed to take place, so it just so happened that many readers wrote about journeys to Europe. When I created the map of connections, I didn’t add or takeaway their responses–I merely created the map to reflect the breadth of places that readers had mentioned…so I hope that helps explain why there’s a larger focus on Europe here than on other continents 🙂

      That being said, I also wanted to share another post with you. I’m now expanding this project into a book, and will be highlighting stories of connection from all across the world! At the moment, I’m currently inviting readers to share about a moment of connection from Asia. The stories that have been submitted so far are deeply moving and beautiful as well, so I thought you might enjoy reading about their connections from another corner of our world:

      http://www.candaceroserardon.com/2016/12/geography-of-connection-2/

      Finally, you’re very right–having the ability and means to travel is absolutely a privilege, one that never ceases to humble me. I consider it a tremendous honor to have been able to see as much of the world as I have so far, and I now consider it just as great an honor to share the connections and lessons my journeys have gifted me. One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned is exactly what you said above–that transformative connections are able to happen no matter where we are in the world, even in our own backyard. Thank you for that great reminder, and again, know I’ll be wishing you all the best as you continue your journey!

  • RIYA

    Wow,the way u described the geography of connection is super and unity comes to mind.keep on writing ur travel experiences.
    thanks Candace Rose Rardon

    • Thank you so much, Riya! And I love that this map inspired you to think of unity–for me as well, hearing everyone’s stories was a very powerful (and much-needed) reminder that there is still unity and connection in the world, no matter that it often feels the opposite right now. It’s for that reason alone that I’m excited to keep working on the project 🙂 All the very best to you!

  • Lisa

    I love seeing how people record their travels in art.

    Lisa @ https://hopewellslibraryoflife.wordpress.com/

    • I’m so glad to hear that, Lisa! That makes two of us 🙂 Do you draw or sketch during your journeys as well?

  • Pauline Susanto

    As I mentioned on Instagram, I LOVED that you added the pilgrim shell on the map. I think I’m going to print it out and frame it and put it up in my living room. I’ll take a picture and share it with you when that’s been done 🙂 Thanks for including me, Candace!!

    • Pauline, as soon as you shared your first story from the Camino, I just knew there had to be a pilgrim’s shell on the map! I’m so happy you love that detail, and am even more honored to hear the map might soon grace the walls of your living room–please please do send a picture once you’ve done it! Wishing you a wonderful holiday season 🙂

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