To join me on a virtual sketching trip, download a travel sketch-journal here.
I add tutorials to them so you can learn the techniques and details you see in the sketchbooks.

My former workshop students asked me to upload my workshop workbooks to make them available to everyone. So you can also download a workbook and give yourself a workshop! Enjoy!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Peek Into a Travel Journal

I went to Whaleshead Beach last April (2009) with a sketching buddy, for the express purpose of sketching and journaling. Not many people are able to concentrate totally and ONLY on sketching and journaling during a trip, myself included.

Usually we artists have to balance artistic endeavors with hasty travel, socializing with friends and relatives with whom we are visiting, and/or attending to the business that made us take the trip in the first place.

And unless you go with a sketching buddy, your companions are all too likely to get bored and pester you (you can't really blame them!).

The Oregon beaches are about 150 miles and four hours away from my home, so it makes sense to leave on a Friday and return on a Monday. That allows the whole weekend for playing (plus the first evening's sunset and the last morning's quick trot along the beach).

On this journey, the weather was April-spritzy, with occasional brief rain, afternoon breezes, and sufficient (mostly misty) sunshine.

We stayed in a lovely little cabin at Whaleshead Resort, and spent the entire time roaming the beaches, collecting goodies to keep us busy drawing, pleine air and studio sketching and painting (sometimes it was too rainy or windy to sketch on the beach so we painted and journaled about our adventures in the evenings).

Below are my journal pages for that trip. There are captions under each page.

(click on any image to see a close-up

This is the cover, a collage of map and postcard, with copies of artwork (scanned in, printed, and cut out) pasted on later.

Maps can add a lot of fun (and clarity) to a journal. And don't get stuck on perfection ~ quick sketches, even cartoony ones, can add a lot of character.

Keep an eye out for ephemera to glue or tape in ~ mementos and things like tide tables (above) add to the story.

A little haiku can give interest to a page. And don't feel that you have to color everything once you start. Fade it off to black/white if you run out of time or energy.

For a change of pace, if you're doing nature stuff, stick in some "architecture."

If you're drawing something that will change (tide coming in, light/shadows), complete that part first then draw/color the rest.

You might incorporate some natural item as a design element. I used the surf grass as a framing and partitioning device in two pages above.

To emphasize the most important thing, color that but leave the rest black & white. I was using a ballpoint pen for these sketches, and you can get wonderful shading if you use a light touch (practice at home). The best part is that ballpoint will work on damp paper (I was on the beach, remember?) where pencil doesn't work well.

I made cracks in the rock serve as frames here. Outlining page titles and labels can give a lot of pizzazz to them. I went through and colored them later. And more haiku here tries to add some humor.

Be careful that you keep your sketchpad oriented properly in the heat of battle. I managed to hold it upside down for this sketch of a kombu seaweed, only realizing after I drew it that I'd upended the sketchbook. Since you would have to stand on your head to view it properly, see the next picture for the upright version of the kombu.

This makes a bit more sense, I'd say.

This is Whaleshead Bay at low tide with the largest rock, supposedly, "The Whale" breaching.

Here's the same place in different lighting. The nice thing about being the artist is that you can color your painting any way you want.

Except for the millipedes, this little collection was sketched and colored one evening from treasures gathered on the beach.

Try using a photograph as a base for a later sketch. The photo is the darker square in the lower right corner, and this entire page was done after printing out my digital photo of the scene. If you're on vacation, a quick trip to a photo shop with print-out capacity can add a lot of scope to your journal.

Don't be afraid to tackle something new. My attempt to show water pooled in the brown Mermaid's Cups was less than accurate, but it was fun trying. I think it needs some white sparkles. The before/after drawings of the sea star add a time element to the page.

The dining room table of the cabin did double duty for dinners and drawing.

For the final page, I used another photo printout and some sand (top right) as a paragraph divider. This was a fun, but exhausting marathon of sketching and journaling, an experiment, to see how much I could do in a 4-day weekend. I loved every minute of it, but I was ready to stop by the final evening. Next time, maybe I'll take it a bit easier.

Did you enjoy this? Did it give you any ideas for your own journaling? Leave me a comment ~ I'd love to hear from you.

Merry Christmas, if you celebrate that, and Happy Holidays if you don't. May your 2010 be simply glorious. Keep sketching!


Anonymous said...
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Sandra said...

Geez, I was going to comment on the huge amount of wonderful journal pages. Terrific. What a shocker to read the above comment.

Irene Brady said...

Sorry about that, Sandra. I've no idea what that was all about. Certainly nothing to do with me, or lovely Whaleshead Beach or my journal. And thank you for the compliment!

Anonymous said...

This is SO CREATIVE and FUN! WOW!!! I love it!! Ah thanks for sharing it!!!! :-)

Irene Brady said...

You're entirely welcome, Amanda.
It's always fun to share the experience with others. Glad you like it!

Jocelyn said...

Irene, your 4-day journal is a tour de force in sketching and notation! Your anemone haiku is hilarious. The variations in page designs, subject matter, and use of color and line makes the Whalehead Beach project a fine lesson in nature journaling. I can tell you weren't sitting around reading a novel that weekend! Wow.

Irene Brady said...

Hi Jocelyn!
Yeah, it WAS a busy time! I gave myself a challenge -- to use as many different elements and approaches as possible over the course of the weekend. It was a fun challenge to match each subject and sketching opportunity to a new way of presenting it.

And like all sketch/journals, each time I go back to leaf through it, I experience the roar and curl of the surf, the clackety lip-smacks of the mussels, the sting of windblown sand on my face, the salty scents, the gleam of sky on water.... just as I experienced them on the beach as I drew. Aren't journals wonderful in that respect?

mary bailey said...

Irene, thank you so much for sharing this journal with us. I see all kinds of possiblities here for my own journal. You have such a fresh way of looking at things, and as always your drawings are such an inspriration.

Irene Brady said...

I visited your site and saw that you are off to a good start with your own journaling, Mary. I'm delighted that I can add to your inspiration.

I've borrowed many ideas from others, and they always come out WAY different after passing through my lens of personal experiences.

Happy journaling!

Lynn said...

Irene, there are so many good ideas in this post. Your journals are wonderful - than you for sharing them. I am trying to do travel journals from my photos, and you are a real inspiration.

Kate (Cathy Johnson) said...

what an inspiring journal, Irene!

Irene Brady said...

We all learn so much from each other -- I feel like a sponge! I think that if you know something somebody else could use, you should pass it along.

Sharing is nearly as much fun as doing something in the first place!

Here's a grab-bag of other entries...

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