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.


Joe said...

Holy balls! You are one talented dude! Really cool stuff...

ANDROID said...

Thanks man!

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