WAYNESBURG — Most people like to take along their camera to capture their travels for future viewing enjoyment. A few might even keep a diary of their day-to-day adventures. But Ruff Creek resident Leslie Fehling seems to have come up with a unique way of capturing those special moments experienced in places far away from home.
“Four years ago, I took along a sketch book on a visit to Alaska,” said Fehling, a part time artist, part time designer, who works out of her home making customized draperies in a business she started up in 2001 titled Leslie Fehling Designs. “I found it a great way to remember the trip. When you sketch things that interest you, I find that you bond with it and that it gets imprinted in your mind much more than a photo that you snap in a matter of seconds, then leave.”
In subsequent trips to Colorado, Texas and the North Carolina seashore, she took along her sketchbook and ended up with beautiful colorful reminders of things and scenes that captured her attention.
Recently she started a blog, lesliefehling.com, where she includes many of her drawings embellished with watercolors along with written narrative. Works in her Everyday Artist portfolio include images of everything that strikes her fancy in her day-to-day experience that range in subject matter from landscapes of Greene County and beyond to her dogs, cats, old churches, schoolhouses and more.
“Sharing my work on my blog is almost like a painted rather than a written journal,” Fehling said.
For someone who recently started up a blog, Fehling has the enviable success of having about 500 daily blog visitors, an assortment of people who know of her from her drapery business, from the sewing classes she’s taught, from newspaper articles written about her and from friends she’s made on Facebook.
An art studio major with a degree from Colorado College in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and a member of the McMurray Art League, Fehling said that anyone can draw and that’s it’s really only a matter of practicing.
“On my blog, I share my struggles in my art work,” she said. “I’m not a master, but I enjoy sketching and have fun with it. After I finish a sketch book, I find it gives me a sense of satisfaction.”
Taking the sketch concept another step forward, Fehling recently put together a sketch journal of her travels in Ireland. She and her mother, Saundra Conklin flew into Dublin in September 2011 and spent 16 days touring Northern Ireland and the southwestern region of the Emerald Isle, including the Dingle Peninsula.
“Ireland is somewhere I’ve wanted to visit for at least 20 years,” she said. “Mom is 79 and still active, so I thought the time was ripe for a first time visit.”
“Sketchbook Journeys: Ireland” is a 54-page tome with copies of her sketches interspersed with written narrative about her Irish visit. The book can be previewed on the publishers website blurb.com simply by typing the author’s name, Leslie Fehling, in the search block at the top of the home page. The book can also be ordered from the publisher online, and signed copies are also available at Artisans, 52 E. High Street in Waynesburg for $34.
“Ireland proved so much better than I ever dreamed it could be,” said Fehling. “I want to go back some day and take two sketch books along with me.”
On her travels, Fehling said she couldn’t believe the variety of the Irish landscapes - the rugged rocky mountains, the green meadows and the gorgeous limestone landscape (barrens) along the seacoast.
One favorite spot was Whitepark Bay near Bushmills Distillery in Northern Ireland, which she describes as having a beautiful white beach with green mountains in the background.
“We had fantastic food everywhere we went, including the pubs, and the breakfasts were simply unbelievable,” she said. “On the trip, Mom and I also discovered Irish coffee, which I now sometimes make at home.”
Now that her first sketchbook journal is published, she may do others as well. She’s thinking in terms of a composite of images from several travels.
For her 35th anniversary, for instance, she and her husband, Fred, a pilot for Mesa Airlines, flew to Pensacola, Florida for a visit.
Naturally, she took along a sketch book.
“People have been commenting on the sketches after viewing them on my blog,” she said. “I really like when people respond to my work.”
Fehling said that the sketchbook journal movement sort of grew out of the scrapbooking phenomenon.
“More and more people are doing sketchbook journaling not only as a way of recording their travels but also of chronicling their day-to-day life experiences.”
Keep an eye out for Fehling's blog entries on the GCM website by clicking here.