collaborative travel journal 2

In past posts (here and here) I’ve written about collaborative journals, and my family’s ritual of drawing at dinner tables while traveling. We’ve just returned from a trip through the Caribbean, a journey of more than 2,000 miles by ship, which was filled with so much heat and sun, so many waves amidst so much water, and so many images flooding the eyes and the brain, that drawing and photographing (which also filled my days) were just as important as swimming and sunblock.

Here are the pages of our journal, in the order they were made.

We all felt that we needed a few days to find our exquisite corpse groove, which is one of those things that happens if you stop consciously trying.

Of course that’s what lies at the heart of the exquisite corpse game. You have to dive deep into your own third of the drawing, but you can’t for a moment think about what your collaborators might have drawn. What you can think about, if you’re drawing a middle or a bottom, is the two tiny lines that are given to you as a guide.

Sometimes wide apart, sometimes very close together, these little marks, when you really respond to them, are like energized links, holding the whole design together. The little connecting lines are actually a prompt.

When the book is passed to you, and you contemplate those small marks, new ideas will come and you’ll find yourself drawing something that will surprise you.

I actually think that the little connecting marks are the key to exquisite corpse.

All the rest – collaborating to make something, drawing secretively, trying to expand the notion of top, middle, and bottom – is of course important.

But when those connecting lines are given to you, and you respond to them in spirit or style, you’re like a jazz musician…listening carefully to find the groove, improvising, adding your part, becoming a part of something way beyond yourself.