I just came back from a trip to Austria where I went to visit some friends of mine. It was a great holiday and one of the things that I am super happy about is that I kept a travel sketchbook!
A lot of the time when I travel I take a sketchbook and some pens and pencils with me and I end up not drawing at all.
However, just before I went on holidays I got inspired by the fantastic Christine Nishiyama (also check her Skillshare classes, they’re great!) who had just completed a road trip and had kept a travel sketchbook which she shared on Instagram. Her illustrations were so simple, beautiful and fun at the same time that they made me want to give it a go.
So I decided that I too would draw my adventures!… And the thought totally terrified me!
I mean, there is so much great stuff on Instagram and the likes that I felt very pressured to produce something that looked awesome, even though the whole point of going away for a few days was to relax and have fun.
And then I remembered how Christine’s account of her road trip and experience of drawing in her travel sketchbook made it sound approachable and laid back.
I wasn’t too sure how and where to start but I decided to be brave, forget about the idea of making something perfect and I gave travel sketching a go – my way! And I learnt a lot in the process!
Here are 8 lessons I learnt from this experience:
- Drawing when you are away is not like drawing at home: some of the materials I brought with me were different from what I normally use which means that I had to adapt my drawing a little.
- Sketching the illustrations in pencil first made it feel too ‘controlled’. I was spending way too long trying to get things perfect so after 30 minutes of not being happy with my drawings on day 1 I erased everything and went ‘freehand’.
- Going straight into painting without sketching my illustrations first forced me to think differently about what I was painting/drawing, loosen up and not ‘care so much’ (it brought back memories from the last Inktober challenge!).
- I gave up on perfection… and it felt good! At first I was really disappointed with some of my illustrations that looked inferior to what I normally draw at home. As soon as I reminded myself that it was okay for things not to look exactly like my photos, I started to enjoy myself a lot more and funnily enough the illustrations got better!
- Drawing complicated stuff (like people kayaking) freehand when you are hungover is very difficult. Actually drawing anything when you are hungover is more difficult!
- Wait for the ink to dry! I really should have remembered this one since I work a lot with Indian ink. Except that since I used an artist brush pen instead of my usual brush and bottle of ink I didn’t quite think it through which resulted in small smudges here and there – lesson learnt!
- I added some text to my pages but I didn’t have a particular plan when I started writing. Like the rest, I decided not to overthink it and I just wrote whatever came to my mind. I might not win the Pulitzer Prize for it but it worked just fine for me.
- As the days passed and I started to let go some interesting things started to happen. I became more confident and it was reflected in every aspect of what I drew (use of space, colour, subject matter, etc.). Sure, it was maybe not the illustration project of the year, but it was mine, and I owned it!
In hindsight there’s a bunch of stuff that I would now do differently.
But you know what? It actually doesn’t matter so much. Yes, there were a few bumps but there were some really cool things too!
As imperfect as they are, not only do those illustrations tell the story of what I did during this trip but they also show how I grew in just 6 days and that, in itself, is amazing!
And I am so proud that I committed to drawing every day and that in addition to the photos I took I also have illustrations of my holiday!