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Creativity on the Move – Taking Your Talent on the Road

Creativity might meander down a winding path for some, but add wheels to your lifestyle and it races. Is it the new sights that inspire us? Or “headin’ out” that stimulates our urges to share ourselves with the world?

One thing seems apparent: creativity is stimulated by the moving road under our wheels. Take, for example, three Escapees women at the Evergreen COHO SKP Park on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula.

Each of them started on a different creative road:

One was already a commercial artist when she packed her professional gear into her rig and hit the road.

Another discovered a new craft while at an RV park, a craft that now often dictates her next travel destination.

And a third, after her travel adventures, gathered up her experiences to write a book.

Janet Tarjan Erl #115490 - Professional Artist Turned Traveler

Janet began her professional art career 40 years ago, long before she and her husband, Harry, began full-time RVing.

After completing her fine arts degree from the University of California, Davis, she illustrated and created museum exhibits, planetarium shows and illustrated computer game covers for Sirius Software and 20th Century Fox. She is a signature member of the National Watercolor Society and of the American Society of Marine Artists and has exhibited in over 70 exhibitions, winning many awards.

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“Shorebirds Ensemble” by Janet Tarjan Erl was juried into the prestigious “Birds in Art” exhibition sponsored by the Leigh Yawkey Woodsen Art Museum. Photo by Harry Erl #115490.
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Artist, Janet Tarjan Erl painted plein air to capture the beauty of a Gold Beach, Oregon, landscape. Photo by Harry Erl #115490.

Janet enjoys hiking and soon found that she loved plein air painting of scenic landscapes.

Janet and Harry enjoyed every form of RVing as they explored their native California parks, but they hadn’t considered full-time RVing until 11 years ago. They were in the midst of building a 3,000 square-foot home in Oregon when illness hit her. They bought a 27-foot, class-C Winnebago, a place where Janet could easily function and recuperate. By the time their house was finished, they both realized that the RV was all the space they needed.

Within a few years, they sold their house and print screen business and were ready to hit the road. Harry refitted a vintage 1984 Bluebird Wanderlodge with an art/office area for Janet, and they added extra storage for her art. They began traveling full-time, exploring all the Western states, looking for a place where she could eventually open an artist’s studio/gallery and where Harry could pursue his lifelong dream: to become an ocean sailor.

They eventually landed at Evergreen Coho SKP Park, in Chimicum, Washington. Being near Port Townsend with its well-established art community and location on the waters of Puget Sound, they knew they’d found their home base.

After becoming a leaseholder last year, they’ve been busy. Janet designed the new official logo for the park. Her watercolor, “Shorebird Ensemble,” was recently juried into the Birds in Art exhibition, which sets the standard for avian art, sponsored by the Leigh Yawkey Woodsen Art Museum. They recently opened a studio/fine art gallery in Port Townsend. In addition, they are enjoying their 23-foot San Jan sailboat.

Janet has another talent as an accomplished fiddle player. As an added bonus for her, Port Townsend’s Centrum organization offers an annual week long nationally recognized fiddle tunes gathering.

Janet says, “I am most inspired to paint those special places, subjects and moments that evoke rapture, reverence and awe—subjects that engage people to be grateful for their universe and the natural world that sustains them. My big goal is to continue traveling the world with my husband Harry, revel in the beauty and magnificence of the world and capture those inspirations through my art.”

Katherine Plisko #68699 - Found Her Creativity on the Road

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Katherine Plisko enjoys carving and painting gourds she’s gathered while traveling the U.S. Photo by Sandra Haven #103699.

Katherine and husband, Walt, began full-time RVing in 2001.

Ten years ago, as a leaseholder in Jojoba Hills, she watched the Wednesday morning gourd artists at work and, as she says, “they dragged me along,” both teaching her how to carve gourds and instilling a love of this art form.

Katherine has never stopped learning more about the craft, taking classes and participating in informal groups who love to share their efforts. She says it is common to find other Escapees members exhibiting alongside her at the many gourd exhibitions throughout the country.

She says there are downsides to traveling with such a hobby, most involving finding the space for equipment and for the finished projects. But Katherine adds, “You can always find space for something that you love.”

When asked what are the pros to a traveling hobby, she says, “Travel gives you so much more access to everything: art, music and writing. There are museums and colleges and classes everywhere. And you can travel to them when you live on the road.”

For example, Katherine and Walt travel six months out of the year and map their itinerary so they can attend classes during the week long Wuertz Gourd Farm annual festival in Casa Grande, Arizona, in February.

She also heads to Wellburn Gourds Farm in Fallbrook, California, where she chooses many of her gourds to use for months ahead. Then they are off to numerous gourd exhibitions around the country, where Katherine often shows off her handiwork.

Now a leaseholder at Evergreen Coho SKP Park, Katherine shares her passion with other Escapees.

Last year, she offered a gourd class and had 18 eager beginners. Katherine and another experienced gourd artist, Susan Schneider #104054, are now planning more classes for Evergreen’s members in this fascinating craft.

Diane Koeb #38249 - Travel Inspired Her Creativity

Diane Koeb had no formal training in art, crafts or writing and no plans to pursue them—until she began traveling.

In 1995, when she and her husband, Dick, retired, they hit the road in their 30-foot Hitchhiker fifth-wheel and never looked back. They traveled extensively throughout the country and also landed jobs on cruise ships.

From water to land, their adventures piled up, as did their stock of photos, postcards and mementos.

But as much fun as it was, the hard part about traveling was being separated from their grandsons. Diane says, “I wanted them to know that no matter how far apart we were, we were always close at heart. I thought I wanted it to be a storybook, but then it became a travel storybook. And it also became an incentive book for the boys to set their own goals and have dreams.”

With a bit of help and coaxing, that pile of memories and photos began to take shape. Some travelers, write commercially viable books about their travels or take to the road of their imaginations, writing fiction. But Diane’s purpose was specific—to share her travel adventures with family. By focusing on that goal, it became clear she only needed a little guidance and an Internet-based publishing program and she could fulfill that dream.

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Diane Koeb’s travel/picture book is a dream come true for her, and a treasure for her family. Photo by Sandra Haven #103699.

This resulted in her self-published hardbound book, “Where, Oh Where, Are Grandma and Grandpa D?” which chronicles, in brief descriptions and memorable photos, the Koeb’s first 20 years of travel adventures. She has passed out her copies to family and friends and started a new collection of mementos for a sequel.

She is grateful to have completed not only decades of travel adventures, but also to have fulfilled her dream of sharing those experiences with her family, an important item on her bucket list.

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Finding Your Creativity

Whether you are already artistically inclined or want to explore creative possibilities, travel adventures can open your eyes to numerous possibilities. There are always other creative people on the road willing to share their passion for their art. And who knows—the next great landscape scene or shapely gourd or unique snapshot might be your stepping stone to a creative detour along your own traveling road!

Organizations for Creative Minds

Colleges, professional organizations and private groups offer artistic, musical or literary programs in many communities. Google before you arrive or ask about them when you get to your destination.

As an example, Port Townsend, Washington, is a thriving seaside community that offers numerous venues for creative experiences for RVers, including:

Centrum (www.centrum.org) in partnership with Washington’s Historical Fort Worden State Park, is a gathering place for artists and creative thinkers and students of all ages. They attract about 27,000 artists, creative thinkers, students and fans each year and provide year-around programming with two-to-seven-day workshops in music, dance, writing, visual arts and theater, led by masters from around the world. Some favorite festivities are Fiddle Tunes, Jazz Festival, Voice Works, Writer’s Conference and Acoustic Blues.

Northwinds Art Center (www.northwindarts.org) is a community cooperative that features not only an art gallery and exhibition venue, but it also provides programs in writing, books and songwriting.

Also check out local artist studios when you travel. When you visit Port Townsend, stop by Janet’s Tarjan Erl’s gallery/studio
(www.tarjanstudio.com) at 1015 Water St.

Where to Stay

Evergreen Coho SKP Park
(www.evergreencohoskprvpark.com) is only about eight minutes from Port Townsend events, workshops and marinas, too. Call 360-385-6538 for reservations.

Finding Gourds on Your Travels

Gourd enthusiasts can be found in all states. Start by viewing the American Gourd Society’s (americangourdsociety.org) map with hundreds of chapters.

Notable Gourd Farms
Wuertz Gourd Farm
(www.wuertzfarm.com) celebrates in February with a festival of gourds in Casa Grande, Arizona. Enjoy the numerous activities and take a class in this fun art form.

Wellburn Gourd Farm (www.welburngourdfarm.com) in Fallbrook, California, offers many gourds for sale at their farm, as well as free online tutorial videos to get you going, no matter where you are parked.

Online Book Publishers

There are numerous Websites to help traveling writers publish their books no matter where they are located. Here are a few that specialize in printing only a few books at a time and that are particularly useful for a travel photo book:
Shutterfly (www.shutterfly.com/photo-books)
MixBooks (www.mixbook.com/photo-books)
Costco (www.costcophotocenter.com/Shop/Photobooks)

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Sandra Haven #103699

Sandra encourages and coaches writers to help them share their stories with readers. She has been an editor for writers online since 1992, a great job for a traveling RVer. She and her husband, Dennis, traveled throughout the U.S. and volunteered for Washington State Parks before living full-time and becoming leaseholders at Evergreen Coho SKP Park, in Chimacum, Washington.

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