A Journey of Art

Even when I carve out time at home to work on my passion—creating watercolor and pen-and-ink illustrations—I still get plagued by the “shoulds.” I should be doing the laundry. I should catch up on some paperwork. I should take the dog for a long walk.

But when I brought my art materials with me on a recent Azamara voyage, I didn’t pack the “shoulds.” They stayed firmly at home where they, ahem, should be.

We all crave being in the moment when we’re on a cruise ship – forgetting all the cares of “real life” and just focusing on what’s in front of us. Creating art does that for me.

As the Azamara Journey sat at the port of Miami during my most recent sailing, I quickly unpacked and sat on the balcony. I was soaking in the cityscape when I got inspired to whip out my travel kit—a pencil, cool little set of four watercolor trays that compactly screw together, two paintbrushes, a watercolor journal and a handful of Sharpies.

If only I had thought of it sooner! Just 20 minutes into my painting, the horn sounded and the ship was in motion. The Miami skyscrapers were turning away from me in the late-afternoon sunlight, and I sketched furiously to get the piece finished. That’s OK. I was happy to merely sit in the sun and have a brush in my hand.

One evening, I had an early dinner and then went to the pretty Mosaic Café, where a crew member had just set the tables with freshly cut Gerbera daisies. The barista thought it was a little strange that I ordered my latte with an extra empty cup on the side, but he soon saw why: I set it up next to a tea light and a cube vase with an orange daisy, and I spent two hours painting a still life scene.

Such a pleasant evening! I could hear music from the nearby lounge. The other guests who walked by my table smiled and said hello but otherwise left me to my craft. And I didn’t dip my paintbrush in my drink like I usually do!

The next morning, I jumped at the opportunity to grab a poolside table while docked in Cozumel, Mexico, and make a painting. The Azamara Journey was docked in the slip closest to the port, so I had this unobstructed view.

I sat in the shade and painted this scene:

Looking back on it now, I can see in my work that I was very relaxed that day. I felt free enough to play with the perspective and angles a bit, and the colors are brighter than I usually paint.

I keep this small piece in my art studio, as a reminder how I shouldn’t let the “shoulds” get in the way of creating art with an open mind and free of distraction. And should a time come that I forget that?

Perhaps it means it’s time to take another voyage.

Elissa Leibowitz Poma

Elissa Leibowitz Poma is an artist in Silver Spring, Maryland, and staff member at World Wildlife Fund, Azamara’s conservation partner.

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