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The Artist’s Journey by Travis Elborough

In The Artist’s Journey: The Travels that Inspired the Artistic Greats) author Travis Elborough has traced the journeys made by 30 famous painters and provided fascinating insights into how these encouraged them to explore new ways of painting.

The stories are arranged in alphabetical, not chronological order.

A line drawn map accompanies each to show the journey the artist took. And scattered throughout the book are photographs of some of the cityscapes and landscapes which they visited and of the remarkable artworks that they were inspired to create when they were away from home as well as a few photographs of the artists themselves.

As I leafed through his book the catchy chapter titles like:

Albrecht Durer has a Whale of a Time in the Netherlands, Marcel Duchamp Becomes Obsessed with Chess in Buenos Aires. and John Singer Sargent Sinks into Venice enticed me to dip into what proved to be a captivating relaxing read.

Famous artists which are featured and whose stories I especially enjoyed were:

Marianne North

During the Victorian era, there were many restrictions on what women could do, but this did not deter Marianne North from going on many amazing solo adventures!

After the death of her Father in 1869, whom she had dutifully cared for, she was free to indulge her passion for travelling abroad. Her wanderlust knew no bounds! Armed with pencils and brushes, she visited 14 countries in fifteen years. One of her lengthiest excursions was to India where she spent over a year painting plants that were sacred to the various religious traditions. This entailed some arduous treks while travelling alone through rural villages and to quite remote locations. Travis recounts how this journey was far from stress-free. At one stage ants overran her and attempted to devour her oil paints while she was sketching the ancient buildings outside of Nashik.

David Hockney

Ever since watching Hollywood serials like Superman and Flash Gordon as a child, David Hockney had fantasized about going to America. He was able to realize his childhood dream when in the summer of 1961 he flew to New York on his 24th birthday.

It was to be a life-changing experience for him. Compared with Britain, where at the time homosexuality remained a criminal offence, and most gay men and women lived in fear of public exposure, he experienced a great sense of freedom. In L.A. he fell in love with the way light played on swimming pool surfaces. In a series of paintings, he captured the splashes and ripples wrought by handsome young male swimmers as they dived into the cool waters beneath hot suns and clear blue skies in California’s endless, year-long summers.

Hockney also discovered that American acrylic paints were far superior in quality to English varieties and their plasticity made them his preferred medium.


When you are travelling, you can’t always count on good weather! When Matisse embarked on his first journey to Morocco in 1912, he’d looked forward to being able to sketch and paint outdoors in the brilliant African sunlight. But on arrival in Tangier, he was met by torrents of rain, and it didn’t stop pouring for several weeks. Fortunately, he had booked himself and his wife into the best hotel in town. While cooped up inside their hotel bedroom he whiled away the hours by painting a beautiful Still Life of the bouquet of blue irises on their dressing table. Eventually, he was able to venture outside, and this led to many more paintings in which he captured the brilliant colours, light and patterns of Morocco.

The Artist’s Journey will appeal to art lovers and provide them with fascinating insights into the stories behind the creation of some of the world’s most famous paintings. Travis Elborough’s captivating snapshots of the journeys undertaken by the thirty famous artists may well whet their appetites to find out more. Wisely, he anticipated this so he has purposely provided a selected bibliography at the end of his book to show them the way to delve more deeply.

Reviewer: Lyn Potter

White Lion Publishing


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