“Journeys are the midwives of thought.”
— Alain de Botton
A little over one year ago, I found myself sitting along the Antrim coast of Northern Ireland, my feet tucked into borrowed boots, my sketchbook open on my lap. On its pages was a brand new sketch that I had titled “House by the Irish Sea,” in homage to Moddi’s beautiful song, “House by the Sea.”
Once I’ve finished a sketch, I normally hold it up to the landscape that had inspired it, take a picture of the sketch in context, and then pack up my supplies and move on. But there was something about the Irish landscape that led me to take pictures not only of my sketch, but of my seat along the sea — the perfectly shaped boulder I had been perched on for two hours — and even one of my sketching supplies spread out on the boulder’s grassy surface, the verdant coastline just slightly out of focus in the background. The sea had brought me fresh inspiration that warm May afternoon, and I wanted to carry that inspiration home with me.
But it wasn’t until the next day that I had the chance to pause and reflect on what my time along the Antrim coast had meant for me. It wasn’t until I boarded a train and began the next leg of my trip to Belfast that I could sit back, let my mind relax, stare out the window, and finally open my art journal to write, “What a gift of a journey.”
This unique marriage of inspiration and reflection is what I love most about traveling as an artist — and why I know travel will always play a key role in my creative journey.
* * *
Friends, all of that is to say: I’m thrilled to be sharing a new creative journey with you all today — one that you yourself could win! You should know that I have a very high bar set for what external opportunities and contests I share with our community here, but I recently received an email from Rail Europe that left me thinking, “Well now, that would be perfect for Moment Catchers.”
They were writing to tell me about their second annual #TalesonRail artist-in-residence program, which they felt would be a good fit for our community of travel-loving artists — and as soon as I read more about the program, I couldn’t help but agree.
Here’s what the residency is all about:
“We believe that travel is one of the best ways to find inspiration for creative projects, but we know it isn’t always easy to get away from work or other everyday life commitments. We want to give two creative individuals the chance to get away and focus on a personal or professional project during an inspiring, creativity-filled train journey through Germany and Switzerland in late September 2017.
This opportunity is open to aspiring writers, visual artists, musicians, photographers, videographers, and any other creatives from the U.S. and Australia. The most exciting part? We’ll produce a video series about the artists’ experience, with episodes to be released online in early 2018!”
Immediately, my mind conjured the many train journeys I’ve loved taking through the world — the shorter trips in Europe, like my journey to Belfast in Northern Ireland; and the longer overnight journeys in Asia, through countries such as Myanmar and India, where the train feels like a world unto itself, and for as long as we’re traveling on it, we get to be a small part of that world. And so, too, could I picture the inspiration each journey had held for me — all the notes I had written and the journal pages I had filled.
As Alain de Botton has expressed so perfectly in The Art of Travel, there’s truly nothing like a train journey to inspire creative thought and spark new ideas, is there?
* * *
How to apply for the TalesonRail artist-in-residence program:
There are much more details about the program on Rail Europe’s website, but here are a few essential notes about how to apply (and perhaps the most essential thing of all to keep in mind is that you must be a resident of the U.S. or Australia):
1. Make sure you’re following @raileurope on Instagram.
2. Upload a photo to your Instagram account. The photo should show a place that has inspired you creatively, and the caption should explain to Rail Europe in 3-4 sentences why a trip like this could really help you move forward with a creative project you’re working on or have been wanting to start.
VERY IMPORTANT: Make sure to use the hashtag #TalesOnRail2017 in your caption so Rail Europe can find your entry.
3. That’s it! You have until July 17, 2017 to enter. Rail Europe will contact a winner a few weeks after the contest closes.
It’d be so fun to see a writer or artist from our very own Moment Catchers community take part in this residency, so know I’ll be wishing you the best of luck if you enter 🙂
* * *
Disclosure: Following FTC guidelines, I want to be clear that I was compensated by Rail Europe to help share the news about the #TalesonRail residency. But know that I accepted the fee only to cover the time it took me to put this post together — and that I genuinely felt this was a perfect opportunity for any of our Moment Catchers from the U.S. or Australia. Thank you!