Arts preview: “How I Spent My Summer Vacation” chronicles, well, you know, via illustrations

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From the July 4, 2013 edition

The tendency for most folks on summer vacation is to take plenty of pretty pictures. Cartoonist Matt Wyatt takes a different approach to capture his travels—illustrating.

“There are places where rather than describe what I saw, I drew a picture. It’s almost like an illustrated travel journal,” Wyatt said. “Sometimes I’m capturing things that you can’t see in a photo.”

Upon looking at old travel journals filled with his sketches, Wyatt decided to enlarge and color some of them. More than 30 of Wyatt’s illustrations from his travels became part of the Ohio Art League’s July exhibition, “How I Spent My Summer Vacation.”

Wyatt took photos for himself while traveling, but his illustrations carry more weight.This seems valid, especially in regards to a moment when Wyatt was holding a wild anaconda. Rather than snapping a photo, Wyatt encapsulated the event in an illustration.

“This was a wild anaconda,” he said. That’s a singular moment, so the pictures I have just don’t capture it.”

Of course, not all of the works picture Wyatt handling wild animals. He arranged the pieces in a narrative form, so viewers will see not only highlights of Wyatt’s travels, but also pieces that document the beginning the travel process.

“The first picture is a guy’s back at a computer monitor. That’s me waiting for the guy at the computer so I can get some travel guides,” Wyatt said. “There’s a gas stop early on, some of these are flights. A lot of these things ring true for every trip.”

Wyatt has travelled to about 30 states and “most of the Caribbean Islands.” At the show, snippets of information next to each workwill provide context, however Wyatt hopes that they’re not relied upon too heavily.

“If you’re trying to explain your drawing, you haven’t really done your job,” Wyatt said.

All of his illustrations used in the show are compiled in a book that Wyatt will be selling during the exhibition.