Tag Archives: learning

8 Lessons I Learnt From Keeping A Travel Sketchbook

Hi everyone!

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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’.
  3. 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!).
  4. 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!
  5. Drawing complicated stuff (like people kayaking) freehand when you are hungover is very difficult. Actually drawing anything when you are hungover is more difficult!
  6. 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!
  7. 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.
  8. 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!