Travel Sketching | The Battle Against the Fast-Art Era

The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls. Pablo Picasso

Technological advances have jaded our perspective of society and stripped expression down to a single click of a button. Sound a bit dark and depressing? Well let me elaborate….

I am not an advocate of tradition nor am I campaigning against progress. However, I would like to dedicate this post to something that I don’t believe can be replaced by technology – ART.

There are programs out there that can actually replicate the sound of guitar. The latest IPhone can turn a dull picture into a magazine cover, and the video quality is so good you could shoot the next Wes Anderson film with only 50% battery. There are several apps that can imitate the stroke of a brush, and the “paintings” that come out are better than your final school piece that took 2 weeks to complete. Despite the precision and convenience that these apps and programs provide us with, they could never replace the real thing. Anyway, I’m rambling – but that doesn’t mean there isn’t any truth in it.

What I would like to focus on is travel sketching. I do not consider myself to be a bona fide artist, and I am not in any way suggesting that I hold the key to artistic enlightenment. Yet, Jess and I have found this to be our new little hobby that we both very much enjoy doing. We have always enjoyed drawing and would very much like continue to do so on our travels around the world. However, what I would like to share in this post is my perception on this “rare and hidden” art form, and how we could attempt to change the way we travel by adding a bit of colour to our lives!

As children all we needed was a piece of paper and a crayon, and we could illustrate anything that we deemed necessary at the time. But as we grow, things become more complicated; we tend to be embarrassed about what we create and nobody wants to be caught drawing the Eiffel Tower like a kid who just fell of the monkey bars. However, if you do enjoy being creative and would love to capture all your memories – on your next big adventure – then there’s still hope for you yet. Like everything, the most important thing is to know what you need as well as a few tips and tricks to get the most out of your natural ability.

Your bag should at least contain the following:

  • Sketchbook (sturdy paper that won’t buckle)
  • Pencil for outlines; HB should do the trick
  • Eraser
  • Coloured pencils

Once you get comfortable using the basics you can start experimenting with drawing pens or a watercolour field kit. If you want to dive in and use everything at once, go right ahead – it’s art! Let’s get started!

  1. When you come across something you would like to capture, find a nice comfortable place to sit – you don’t want to rush it because you’re uncomfortable, it defeats the object.
  2. What I like to do is draw a grid; this will allow you to focus on one section at a time and keeps the drawing in proportion.
  3. Before you begin, study your surroundings. Try to maintain consistency as you draw so you can easily bring your picture to life.
  4. Once you have the outline, carefully erase the grid and touch up anything that needs additional attention.
  5. If you are happy with what you’ve done so far, try add a little colour to give it some emotion. At this point you could actually finish it off back at your hotel but  I would suggest completing it on location so you don’t interrupt the process. Some suggest taking a picture if you don’t have time or the weather isn’t ideal.

You won’t get it right first time around. Nonetheless, you will enjoy the time you spent recreating your favourite scene while on holiday and your new hobby will create everlasting memories. Escaping for a few hours and drawing or painting is a great way to relax and get rid of stress. “When you’re doing art, your brain is running full speed ” (Gary Vikan) So get out there and make your next trip a truly memorable one…

P.S.: If you are interested in further information on this topic search for the Urban Sketching Symposium on google or go on or go check out the instagram account of the amazing Amer!



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