Gill McC
Posted May 10, 2014 by Gill McC in Tips & Techniques, Travel Journal

Ah well, I dreamt of balmy spring days wandering the streets of Sorrento and sketching in the sunshine, but sadly the weather had other ideas. So, my journal comprises mainly of sketches I painted from images, and printed photos.

I like to start my journal with an itinerary page - a brief outline of what we did each day - and a weather record

I also like to include a map of the area - I simply go to Google Maps, print it to the scale and size I need and use old fashioned tracing to transfer it to my journal.

Do you suffer from 'blank page syndrome?' where it seems far too intimidating to make that first mark on the blank white page... Well, there are a few tips and tricks I have up my sleeve to get around this problem. For this journal I decided to use a technique that Jacqueline Newbold teaches in her wonderful DVD 'Art Journals on the Go'- to pre-paint some pages. I wasn't quite sure how this would work out, (especially as the colour ended up rather more intense than I had intended as I used Winsor & Newton Artists watercolours for the first time - the pigment is far richer in these pans than in the Cotman Student grade paints I am used to.) however, if you trust the process you will find it all works perfectly -

I sketched these trees from photos I had taken during the morning, by the time I sat painting in the hotel lounge in the afternoon, a full-blown storm had roared in - so the background seems very appropriate

The other pages worked well too - the first matched the colours of the flowers perfectly, and the second reproduced the look of the stucco on the church.

There are many techniques you can use if you do not feel your sketching skills are up to scratch - although I always say that keeping an illustrated travel journal is not about creating great art, but about creating memories...

This is a technique that anyone can do - I had a poor quality photograph of this wonderful wisteria-clad pergola, taken under grey skies so the lighting was not good. I converted the photo to greyscale, and printed it on watercolour paper - then simply added colour over the top. Do make sure that you only do this with a printer that has waterproof ink - such as Epson Durabrite, or a Laser printer.

There were many ceramics in Sorrento - a speciality of the area - many of them were on walls or pavements. I decided to re-create the look of a wall to mount the photos on. This was easily achieved by using a water soluble ink to draw in light brick lines (I used a Rotring Art Pen), then I loaded some raw sienna on my paintbrush and painted the bricks - just touching the ink lines and allowing the ink to run.

This was one of the few paintings I did in-situ, a wonderful pizza served in the tin tray in which it was cooked -

More to follow...
Tags: Italy, watercolor
RAZE Bonnie-Britt wrote at May 18, 2014
1 Vote
What a wonderful travel journal. I like the different lay outs a lot and the strong colours you use . I'll have a look at the video too.
RAZE Bonnie-Britt
Linda Stranger wrote at May 11, 2014
1 Vote
Gill, this is just wonderful, well done. I love all the pockets and pull-outs which add another dimension to the journal. And well done to Alex for filming it.
Linda Stranger