In celebration of the launch of my new workshop, Travel Journaling: A Beginner’s Guide, I've been rummaging through my holiday sketchbooks and have compiled a few of my top tips which will hopefully give you some ideas and help if you get a bit stuck knowing where to start.
Travel Journal Tip Number 1:
Document moments of high drama!
There's a lot of these when we go away because Gav gets *very* stressed, sweary
and over reactive about camping and then more annoyed because the rest of us laugh at him (and I draw him!). Here we see him bracing himself for the worst, as we sit up all night waiting for the tent to blow away. We obviously did survive the night and rewarded Gav (for being a brave boy) with a cooked breakfast at the local cafe in the morning (bright and sunny…not a cloud in the sky…obvs!).
Travel Journaling Tip Number 2:
Can you see all the grubbiness on this page? The marks in this travel journal are really quite disgusting because they were created as a result of me sketching whilst the children were crabbing off the jetty in Dittisham, a lovely little spot along the Dart estuary in South Devon.
As the crabs were hauled in, all the sea water (and what can only be described as ‘crab juice') dripped onto my sketchbook. You might also spot some grubby flip flop prints on the page too as, in the excitement of bringing in the crabs, lots of children stood on it! The moral of the story is not to be precious because all
these marks and spots are a more important part of a the memory than the sketching or the writing. It's all part of the story of this holiday. I also have travel journals where ice cream, red wine and spaghetti bolognaise feature heavily.
Travel Journaling Tip Number 3:
Draw the things you love!
I collect letters and signs from wherever I go on my travels as I love typography and especially hand rendered signage….the more wonky and less pro the better! The important thing to remember is that you don't need to draw/collect *everything*. Find what catches your eye and inspires you! You could have a travel journal full of little houses, boat colours, food etc. It's a great opportunity to take time out on your holiday to think about what you really want to draw.
Travel Journal Tip Number 4:
Be Nosy … Listen to peoples’ conversations and write down what they say!
This is an excellent tip if, like me, you sometimes don't know what to write in your travel journal and it ends up like a very boring 'Dear Diary' entry. Normally, there are brilliant sound bites to be heard on a beach, cafe or by a harbour. Campsites are *sketchbook gold* as people are in a highly compromised domestic environment. I like listening to people talking when I'm sat on the other side of the hedge in my tent. My favourites are conversations about what to have for tea and gossipy chats about other family members and, in my head, I give a David Attenborough type natural history documentary.
FYI, unlike my fellow campers, I LOVE townies who have never camped before, shouty couples, people telling their children off and drunk people having a BBQ.
Travel Journal Tip Number 5:
Don’t take loads of art equipment with you
It will distract you, confuse you AND be an excuse not to begin because you can’t decide what to use. Watersoluable graphite and coloured pencils are a great idea because they are basically a normal pencil’s alternative cousin but still a friendly and familiar tool. They are much less scary than using ink and a bit more exciting than your everyday pencil. Draw your chosen subject and then wash over with a bit of water* to add a bit of simple tone.
*If you don’t have water you could always lick your sketchbook which is what I do quite a lot. It’s not very hygienic, I know, but please refer to journal tip number 2 for my thoughts regarding this.
Travel Journal Tip Number 6: Collage in holiday souvenirs
Paper ephemera is very useful not just to draw on but also to stick over pages you’re not so keen on. It’s also part of your holiday experience and even a boring old car park ticket tells the story of a day out plus it normally has the date on which is handy in a journal. I drew this picture sat on the beach at Marazion in the far south west of Cornwall and didn’t have my sketchbook with me. We had just bought some postcards on St Michael’s Mount so it seemed appropriate to immortalise it using the paper bag. I like the print repeats of little hills and castles in the background.
There’s loads more tips (and plenty of cheats) like this in my travel journaling workshop which is aimed at beginners and those who don’t know where to start. Check it out here!