Written by Kerrie Abby
It was just 30 years ago that Polaroid instant cameras were the camera to have because a memory could be captured instantly on film. Even if the quality was terrible, you ‘shook it like a polaroid’ and in a few minutes the memory was forever imprinted on film. A family vacation at a national park might have been that perfect time to snap a picture with the Polaroid, and an image of the Grand Canyon magically appeared as a printed keepsake. Today, our cell phones come with high quality digital cameras as a Polaroid replacement. Apps like Instagram polish the photo with a variety of filters for a professional look, all in an instant. We share those photos with family and friends by text and social media, all in an instant. Memories are pixelated and preserved by technology because it’s fast and easy.
What if we just stopped time for a while and relish in those memories of the beautiful places we have visited or recall a happy moment in our backyard with a more creative method? What if we drew that memory, colored it, and documented the feeling we remember from the photos we have taken? Taking the time to recall the colors, shadows and lighting of that moment, remembering how the weather was, reminiscing the feelings of being in that space again. If it was far from home maybe it was a place that expanded our awareness of how vastly different it was from our familiar surroundings. And if it was in our backyard, maybe we shared a special moment with someone. It’s not time travel, but in a way it can be. Instead of scrolling through old pictures, live again in that moment through your art because that instant in the past left an impression on us that we call a memory.
I took my first art class in middle school and remember the excitement of learning how to draw, paint, and work with clay. After a few months of the class I became discouraged because my art teacher didn’t think highly of my work, maybe that’s why I chose accounting as a career. Just two years ago (I am now over 40), I took my second art class-one of those ‘Wine and Canvas’ events. This class reignited the excitement to have fun with a creative outlet (I think the wine definitely helped). While I still take photos of the places I visit away from home with my cell phone, I indulge in the memory when I take the time to sketch how I remember that moment where I am in a new place. The sketch doesn’t have to be perfect, but if it brings me back to a time where I experienced a pleasant memory, it becomes more meaningful.
Even better than recalling a memory by a photo is to take the opportunity to sketch or paint on location. Recently while on my dream vacation in Iceland, I brought with me my sketchbook and watercolor pencils because I had every intention of drawing a live view of one of the beautiful waterfalls or majestic fjords. The excitement of being in a foreign land and the whirlwind to see as much as I could in the short week I was there didn’t leave me much quiet time to sketch any of the beautiful places I visited. However, I did take many pictures and videos with the intent of later sketching those memories from the photos I took. Indulging in the time to sketch a live view of a beautiful place is the ultimate way to capture a memory.
I no longer have photo albums that keep my paper photos or old Polaroids, instead I have started using sketchbooks as my memory books. Looking at a photos of the past bring back memories, but sketching them helps to remember that moment with clarity.
Follow Kerrie on Instagram @Oregonknitter