I imagine that people with photographic memories have mental scrapbooks that are constantly recording entries and that in a short time the individual has an enormous library of shelved, yet accessible volumes.  I, on the other hand, have only one mental scrapbook.

Codington Woods, New Jersey

Somewhere inside my head I have both a black chalkboard and a scrapbook.  I use the chalkboard when asked to spell a word.  I write it out, then read the letters aloud.  Poof…. the word is erased.  I use the chalkboard to write lists that also are immediately erased after re-reading.  I use it to work out perspective, three dimensional images and compositions.  The chalkboard is something I use with intention.  The scrapbook, however, is out of my control.  The entries are made rarely and without my guidance.

The scrapbook began when I was young, perhaps around the age of five.  The first few entries were houses with towers or fascinating roof shapes.  The images from the scrapbook flash into my mind at odd times over the years, perhaps triggered by a smell, a sound, a feeling in the air.  A few of the other entries are:

Rusty pipes against an old brick wall, lit strongly by sunlight.

A dead tree against a strong blue sky on the trail to the base of the Grand and Middle Tetons.

Small yellow butterflies surrounding a large tree in Yosemite.

A thin, elderly man in pajamas and robe smoking a cigarette at the Veterans Hospital.

The pine forest at Watchung Reservation in 1969.

There are less than a hundred entries in this selective, mental scrapbook.  The latest entry is the berries and tree limbs against the blue sky at Codington Woods last Thursday.

Though I rarely work from photographs, I chose to get this image onto paper in more detail than I could by simply viewing my mental scrapbook.  I’m thinking it might be of interest for me to attempt expressing some of the other entries.  The idea of getting those images on paper is a bit frightening to me.  They have been with me for so long and I worry that I won’t do them justice.  I don’t have photographs to use for reference as I did for the trees at Codington Woods.

I’m curious …… Are mental scrapbooks and chalkboards common?  I assumed everyone has them.

Drawing: Drawn first with Waterman Phileas fountain pen filled with black ink, followed by watercolor.

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