Monday, August 23, 2010

Traveling and Sketching

Ever since I was a kid I would take my sketchbook with when traveling.  Yet, hardly ever did I draw in it.  Most of the time I would be too busy hiking, cycling, and sightseeing with my family to settle down and draw something.
Now, as an adult I have been taking my sketching more seriously and make an effort to draw while on the road.  I would like to share a few tricks I've learned that make it easier to find time to sketch when having fun on vacation.

When I was in college I would drag around a full sized 8.5x11" sketchbook, inevitably I would never take it out of the bag and by the time I got back from a full day's worth of activity I would be too tired to draw.  If you haven't already, try using a small sketchbook, something that can fit in your pocket.  I have a little 3x5" watercolor paper moleskine that I take everywhere.  Now, I draw like crazy, and feel naked if I don't have it with me.  It has the added bonus of being less conspicuous, which is important when drawing people on the street. 
I have no real logical explanation for this tip, other than if it "feels" important then it is important.  When I was younger I would always buy the cheapest sketchbook I could find in the store.  Sometimes I would even staple computer paper together and use that.  I'm not sure why but I would end up never using the cheapies.  And then, interestingly enough, I would go out and buy another cheap sketchbook.  I was never satisfied!  I have a whole pile of cheap sketchbooks with one or two drawings in them.  Now I only buy expensive moleskine sketchbooks bound with thick watercolor paper.  They are really nice, and they don't fall apart.  Once when I was frustrated I threw one as hard as I could across the room, I was sure all the pages would fall out, but when I picked it up I couldn't find any damage.  Okay moleskine, I will assume you will be sending me a check for saying such nice things about your product.

I recommend watercolors because all you need is water to make them work and they travel well when dry.  When traveling I use the same kind of watercolor set I used in 4th grade.  You know the kind: It has eight little cups of color.  It actually works really well and it doesn't take up all the space in your bag.  Sometimes I will even ask for a cup of water when eating in restaurants just so I can do a little watercoloring.

DON'T GIVE YOURSELF RULES! (you're on vacation after all).
Traveling can be an inspiring time for an artist, and many artists find inspiration in their new surroundings.  When going on vacation I used to tell myself I was only allowed to draw things that I saw while on vacation.  Or in other words, I wanted to record what I saw and did during the trip.  What would always end up happening is I would become obsessed with trying to find the perfect thing to sketch.  Something that would encompass my entire experience, and more often than not I would spend more time searching than drawing.  Now I try to think about traveling differently, while the journalistic method may work for some, I just try and draw when I feel the urge, using the vacation as an excuse to let myself be carefree and not think too hard about anything I'm creating.  I find this works better than trying to make some kind of slide show on the pages of my sketchbook.

 Above is a photo of the materials I bring with me when on va-kay.  Notice the uni-ball ink pen.  It has waterproof ink, which is great because when you paint over your drawing it doesn't bleed and ruin your work.

I hope this advice was useful, everyone operates a little different, I just thought I would pass along a few things that work for me.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Today is my last day in Utah before I leave tomorrow for home in California.  So far Nicole and me have Kayaked, hiked, ice skated, and rode horseback.  I don't think we have ever been so busy having fun on a road trip before.

In my ongoing quest to improve my artistic skills I managed to find some time to do some watercolors this morning.  Often, I will return to sketches I have made in ink months before.  It's relaxing to sip coffee and quietly add color to my sketchbook.  A moment of reflection before another day of activity.  Perhaps we will go to the county fair for some good old fashion country fun.

My next blog will be about what I've learned using watercolors while traveling.

Friday, August 13, 2010


Having a great time in Utah.  It's nice to get up in the mountains and enjoy the fresh air.  Most of all it's nice to hit the road and get out of town for a while.  There is nothing better than a road trip.  Here is a recent drawing from my Sketchbook.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Trying out some new acrylic inks on 300 lb. smooth WC paper.  Acrylic inks are a little expensive but I definitely recommend them.

Leaving tomorrow for Utah to visit family and to enjoy the great outdoors.  May not get a chance to post again for a while.  

Friday, August 6, 2010

My Dog Thinks I'm Crazy

My dog thinks I'm crazy because he doesn't understand why I spend all day inside scribbling on paper when there is a great big backyard out there where we can explore, play, and sniff around.  

Ink and watercolor on 300 lb. WC paper.

Beagle on Carpet.

Dark Mood

I've been in a dark mood all night and I am not sure how I got into it, or how I can get out of it.  Sleep will probably help, yet it seems like there is so much to do.  But what?  Such a tangle.  Keep drawing and hope for the best.  This image reflects how I feel.  Pencil and acrylic on 300 lb WC paper.

Again, acrylics don't scan well, and some of the richness of this work has been lost.  I guess you'll just have to trust me on that. 

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


ball point pen and acrylics on 300lb WC paper

Red Blue

I've decided to take a break from watercolors and try out acrylics again.  The problem with acrylics is they scan kind of weird.  Oh well.

Pencil, acrylic, on 300lb. WC paper.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Street Scene

It's late, and this is all I got.  Not sure where it came from, but I like it.

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