Watercolor Snapshots started as an art project to paint daily during my year abroad in Italy and China. The goal was to document a journey without a camera, but still reference the visual style of traditional color photographs. With a 3.5″x5″ watercolor card, a few paint brushes, and paint, all lighter and more compact than a digital SLR, I set parameters for the work—paint small and everyday. I found myself painting on trains, kayaks, in meat markets, the freezing outdoors, and mountaintops. I was engaging myself in my environment through art. Painting in public and unconventional spaces became more than documentation, it became a mode of the art—performance art.
Over two hundred seventy-three watercolors were painted from observation during 13 months of travel in 2008 and 2009. The collection of paintings inspired me to design a book. With assistance of Elizabeth DeWitt and Nathan Fulton, Snapshot was self-published in 2012. Money generated from the very small run of hardcover books went to fund a self supported bicycle tour across the country and the continuation of the Watercolor Snapshot project.
To date over 500 Watercolor Snapshots have been created. While the parameters of painting watercolors to documenting travel have remain the same, the intention of the project has evolved. Initially the project focused more on the scenery of a visited country: the vibrant scenery of Italy, the massive crowds of a Chinese landscape, the lonesome trails of backpacking and bike touring. Events after painting during the trans American bicycle tour, I realized painting was more than documentation, its a method to communicate and connect with people. Now, project has evolved once again, paintings created are given away in exchange for a portrait, a way to remember a person and moment shared.