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Jessica Wesolek recently posted a wonderful article on the guilt of not completing your travel journal on the actual trip. She has kindly given me permission to re-post it here -

Just the other day, I was talking to a dear friend (Hi, Ann!) about the fact that she has boxes of “stuff” from our last couple of journaling adventures and she feels frustrated that she hasn’t gotten those books all done.

I bet you know that feeling.

I sure do.

At our Santa Fe Retreats, we have an abundance of studio time and students do get lots of pages “all done”, but there is always more input of visual treasure than there is time – especially around here.

The truth is that I only know about three people who go off on an adventure and come home with a finished travel journal. These are either people who choose just a few subjects and sketch and paint on site, or people who stay up until midnight in their hotel rooms to finish each day’s pages.

I faced up to the fact a long time ago that I am neither of these.

I have this thing abut being comfortable when making art. Baking sun, wind blowing my hair in my eyes, passers-by interrupting with questions and comments, carrying a camp stool or sitting on a rock, rain, cold – ALL of these do not make me comfortable.

So I have long depended on my camera for back-up – to take scenes back home with me, but there was the hassle of editing photos and printing them, in order to work from them.

The iPad came along and changed all that with its great camera and BIG viewing screen. I don’t have to edit or print unless I want to put an actual photo or a Sheer Heaven transfer in my book.

I can work from my reference photos right on my iPad, and even zoom in to see every tiny detail.

Those of you who have been following this blog for awhile know that I have come up with many “best” journaling kits for travel – always looking for the next improvement.

But no matter how good those kits get, I have finally understood a basic truth about myself.

I love making art at home. Even my travel journal art.

I enjoy reliving the adventures this way so much more than rushing on site or in a motel room that I am only in for a night (my travel style for road trips.)

I have ALL my supplies around at home – no matter what new expressive idea I might want to explore. I have EVERY color of ALL my media.

Working this way allows my actual travel time to be full of experiencing the place – rather than shutting myself up indoors – a prisoner of my pages.

I still sketch on site and in coffee shops and restaurants – but the point is, I can do that in a relaxed manner because I don’t have to FINISH anything.

And I can use artistic license to condense the parts of an experience into a single whole that says it all.

Although I took photos from the car along the route shown above (the VERY boring Texas Panhandle on I-40), and even pulled over for quick & dirty reminder sketches along the roadside, the actual spread was done after I got home – where I could print out a map, sketch ALL the roadside architecture in one place, and figure out a cool way to indicate the constant wind.

My travel journals now have three parts, and each part is big fun.

Anticipation is always the best part of any trip, so the planning is great.

The actual trip is also great because I can take it all in and don’t have to pass up a bunch of adventures so I can complete a painting of one.

And then, the replay - after I get home, I have the adventure all over again as I interpret it in my visual journal.

When I wrote my Travel Journal Workshop a couple years ago. I had all this in it.

But, for some reason, I kept trying to change my habits so I could be one of those urban sketcher types.

I even recently organized a group to meet for journaling at a local bakery. I didn’t finish any pages while at the bakery and found myself taking lots more time back at home to “over<produce” my sketches – as I am prone to do.

And that’s when the truth finally hit home. It’s ok to “travel” at home.

I am still working on this trip- a road trip to and from Michigan in 2008. Each leg of the journey has its own volume, and I love revisiting all the memories.

SO, if you are frustrated by all the unfinished books around you, don’t be.

I am not the “Queen” of any of this or anything, but I give you permission to let all that go.

See those unfinished books as a luscious, creative, playground that can keep you “traveling” for a long time after you return home.


Jessica also has a Travel Journal Workshop that you can download
Gill McC

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
Art Workshops
(Art workshop/retreats, tips & tutorials of international arts instructor/travel leader Cynthia Padilla).
Elisa Pages
Hello from France !

Back in June I went to Brussels, Blegium, for work.
I only visited for one day but I wanted to keep the photos.

I did this journal as soon as I came back...I was very fast to do

I picked up the airport magazine because I liked the format and the images where fun, so I simply stuck the tickets and collected items as well as the photos, directly in the magazine.

I also stuck elements I cut out from the tourist office brochure

Have a good day xxx
John Payne
I've been a member of the EverydayMatters Yahoo Group for a few years (Danny Gregory). Danny wrote a very popular journaling book of that title and then started the public Group (check it out if you haven't already). I gathered suggestions from posts to that group and to a private one called Love This Journal (Jessica Wesolek, on-line classes)and posted the compilitation on Everydaymatters. Since I produced the document I think I can post it here, too. If you have more suggestions please respond:

1. Before the trip, discuss what all parties want to accomplish on the trip. Discuss sights, activities, etc. and include your goal of sketching and be clear about the time requirements. Negotiate. If your traveling partner spends time with you when you journal, be willing to reciprocate.

2. Sketch while others;
a. eat
b. shop
c. read
d. sleep
e. any other activity

3. Similarly, be prepared to sketch when opportunity presents itself;
a. windshield time (let partner drive)
b. bus ride
c. trolley ride
d. ferry ride
e. plane ride
f. train ride
g. while waiting in line (at restaurant, tourist attraction, etc.)

4. Contribute to written journal daily, start sketches or leave spaces for them to be drawn later. Take good notes/pictures for reference and finish the sketches in evenings or back home.

5. Keep small journal with you always, making notes throughout the day. At night, compile them into your regular journal as a way to wind down as the day ends. Beware of too many journals!

6. Expect to be interrupted. It will happen! Pencil
layout and inking may require concentration, but the process of adding color may allow for dialog with partner or public who approach you and want to chat. Great memories can come of these chats, too.

7. Be prepared to cut short a sketching session (or any activity) if the group dynamics aren’t going well. This is the type of compromising that goes along with any group (even if only 2) travel. There are times when group harmony requires spontaneous changes to the itinerary.

8. Just take field notes/pictures and practice sketches. Start from scratch when you get back home. Be advised that if you loose interest and stall once you get home, you have no journaling to show for the trip.

9. The opposite of #8 is that you could set a goal that the travel journal STOPS when you get home, or when you go to bed the day you get back. Nothing demands every sketch to be finished. Get what you can in the moment. In the evenings you can add dialog to the journal to explain any unfinished items.

Not solutions, but could be considered;
1. Don't try to journal when traveling with a non-journaler. (Don’t be bullied out of something you love to do, though.)

2. Organize trips with fellow sketch journalers to share the experience.

Misc. Comments
1. Think over your supplies before you leave.
2. Consider carrying a gluestick to attach used tickets, receipts, etc. (a.k.a. ephemera) to your journal pages as you travel.

Some suggestions contradict others. The ‘right way’ for you may be a combination of suggestions. You need to select what works for you, as there are many ways to do travel journaling.
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