A Virtual Tour in Watercolor

Around the World in 80 Days

``I see that it is by no means useless to travel, if a man wants to see something new.``
~Jules Verne...Around the World in 80 Days
Earlier this year I started painting photos I found on Instagram in a watercolor sketchbook as a way to practice my watercolor skills and develop a regular painting practice.  I filled my sketchbook with 50 of these paintings over the course of 84 days. When I was evaluating what I wanted to do next, I was struck by the number of days it took me to finish my sketchbook. My immediate association was with the Jules Verne book “Around the World in 80 Days” because so many of my paintings were of international locations. That was when I decided that I wanted to continue using Instagram for reference photos but rather than just selecting photos that appealed to me at any given time, I wanted to plan out a virtual trip around the world in 80 days of painting.


The Plan

  • paint my way around the world with the help of my fellow Instagram users
  • divide the world into 24 segments using the longitude lines as a way to define areas (every 15 degrees beginning at the Prime Meredian).
  • select one photo from those posted on Instagram that will fall within each world segment
  • begin with the area between the Prime Meridian and 15 degrees East for the first photo selection
  • after consent is received from the photographer, paint an image using the photo as a reference
``If to live in this style is to be eccentric, it must be confessed that there is something good in eccentricity.``
~Jules Verne...Around the World in 80 Days
When I thought of the plan, it seemed simple enough. But traveling around the world, in real life or virtually, takes quite a bit of planning. Not only did I want to do a painting for each of the 24 segments, I wanted them to be interesting to me both as an artist and a traveler. The left side of my brain (also known as the accountant in me) wanted to circumnavigate the globe from east to west in the order of the longitudinal areas so it was truly a trip “around” the world. I was almost about to give up on the idea before I even started because I couldn’t find a photo in the first area that ‘felt right”. Then I found it…the perfect one…taken in Rothenburg on der Tauber, Germany by Instagram user @magictiron! The photo captured not only a beautiful historic area but included a hand holding a travel notebook. To me, it was a sign that this project must happen. I contacted Tomy, the photographer, and he gave me permission to use his photo as a reference for a sketchbook painting. And so it began…my trip started on May 24th, 2017, when I posted my painting of that photo.
The project has been slow to start because of the time it takes to find the photo, contact the photographer for approval and then, create the painting. Previously, I would have a few photos waiting to be painted. Now, I was having to wait. Fortunately, after less than two weeks, I am finally in a place where my itinerary is set for the next stop or two.
The map below shows the places I’ve been as I circle the globe during this project. You can follow along here or on my Instagram account.
``his curiosity drew him unconsciously farther off than he intended to go``
~Jules Verne...Around the World in 80 Days