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Capturing the Journey


By Michelle Dutro, Expedition Guide on the Wilderness Explorer

Mary Hickson of Bournemouth, England perches atop a fallen tree on the calm shore of Virginia Lake in Southeast Alaska. Making a careful selection from her quiver of colored pencils, Mary smoothly sketches lines on her pre-treated paper until a rowboat swims into focus on the page. Trees are added to frame the craft, now slumbering in the grasses, while Alaska’s famously chaotic forest floor spills greenery across the background of the piece.

“It’s not exactly what it looks like,” Mary said of the scenes she draws, “but it is what it feels like.”

Mary says she’s always been a drawer, but she picked up this specific style for her trip to Alaska. Each day, Mary finds a scene that encapsulates the spirit of the experience and adds it into an accordion book. Each page is connected, so the trip can be stretched out and viewed as one long piece.

“I knew I was coming on this special trip and I wanted to capture the whole journey on one piece of paper,” Mary explained.

To treat the paper beforehand, Mary accordion-folded watercolor paper, splashed on some ink, and seasoned it with table salt before wrapping the paper in plastic wrap. The resulting texture adds a misty, ethereal quality that perfectly captures Southeast Alaska’s mystique.

“It’s a place like no other,” Mary said of Alaska. “I’ve lost a piece of my heart here, honestly. I’ll have to come back.”

At home in England, Mary works with many different mediums, focusing on Japanese woodblock prints. I asked if art was what she did for work, and Mary replied, “It’s what I do for love.”

The photos contained in this blog post are Mary’s original works of art. Any reproduction or sharing is prohibited.

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