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Travel Sketchbooks

March 24th, 2019

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Artist, Susan Abbott, is teaching a “Traveling with your Sketchbook” workshop in DC and posted about it. I took a workshop with Susan in VT this past summer and I can attest that one gets their money’s worth from her. She covers so much and caters it to each person’s level. Susan’s blog post asked for comments/thoughts on personal experiences and I wrote the folllowing”

“For years I took new sketchbooks on trips and returned with them as new as when I left. All the things you mention in the post. Then one year friends gave us some tulips at the airport on a trip to France and the French let me take them with me… So I sketched them in our room once each morning until they dropped and then I kept sketching on that day. I realized I had given myself permission to sketch. After that I started making one quick sketch from my window each am on trips – sometimes an incredible view, some times a parking lot… but once I did that I would continue to sketch for the rest of the trip. Now I can’t imagine travel with out sketching. Perhaps the favorite thing to do in my life.”

It got me thinking about how important sketching is to me and I thought I’d share my thoughts here. I dug out that old sketchbook and below are some of my sketches from that trip”

Image of first quick sketch of tulips
First quick sketch of tulips – I was tired but wanted a record for our friends

After this I warmed to the task.

Image of drawing from hotel window Image of Niki de Saint-Phalle Image of schloss in Baden Baden, GR
from left: hotel window, Saint Malo, FR; Stravinsky Fountain, Paris, FR; Schloss, Baden Baden, GR

…and finally, I just sat down and drew. This sketch book became a wonderful journal of out trip – drawings, ephemera, notes.

Image of first quick sketch of tulips

Unfortunately, I used a pen with ink that bled through the page to the image on the other side. Didn’t do that again!

As I said in my comment, once I make that first sketch on a trip it is as though I have given myself permission to continue. Don’t know if this works for everyone but it sure works for me. Sketching when traveling has become one of my favorite experiences. It allows me to slow down and see things that I would have missed and gives me wonderful sources of memories – how I felt when I saw these things and as I sketched.