Travel sketchbooks are a great way to capture the essence of a place you visit on vacation or business. They are small, easy to pack and can be used with most dry or water-based media. On my recent vacation in Colorado, I brought along a Sennelier folding sketchbook (3×5 page size) and a Canson sampler which included a variety of papers designed for use with wet and dry media (5×7 page size). I would have loved to have brought along some Cottonwood Arts watercolor panels, but I ordered them too late for my trip and they arrived while I was away.
I prefer to sketch rather than paint formally when I travel. Most of my trips are with my family, or if I am teaching, with my students. Since I am busy doing activities with them, I can easily fit in an hour or two of sketching rather than a full day of painting. I also feel I can get to know a place better if I just sketch, not to mention the fact that I don’t really need to have framed and finished oil paintings of every place I’ve ever visited.
For this recent trip to the Rockies, I used a new type of sketchbook: the Sennelier accordion folding sketchbook made of 140# watercolor paper in a 3×5 page size. As implied, it folds accordion style and you can paint on both sides of the paper. You can choose to have your images run over several pages or confine them to one page each. This little book is very useful when hiking or if you are in a cafe. It is lightweight, takes up little space in your back pack and holds up to a fair amount of water without buckling (I don’t use as much water as most watercolor artists but it still would hold up pretty well if you use more than I do). On the side visible above, I painted scenes across 2 pages, on the reverse side, I flipped the book and did small, individual scenes in landscape format on each page.
The Canson sampler sketcbhook was one I received as a promotional gift. It’s got great illustrations of which media work best on each type of surface. (These were done by my Facebook friend Ed Brickler of Canson.) I chose to use the classic drawing papers for my pen and ink sketches done mostly in Aspen. I used a Uniball pen in burnt sienna.
When I got home, I found a wonderful package waiting for me–my first package of Cottonwood Arts cold press watercolor panels. I wish they had arrived before my trip! They are a wonderful surface for demos, field sketches and small finished paintings in watercolor. I ordered the rounded corner variety, which I like, but think I will switch to the standard square corners because they look less like coasters. The surface takes the paint nicely and doesn’t wash out the colors the way some surfaces do. I will definitely order more and will likely try the illustration board and canvas panels made by Cottonwood Arts.
So, the next time you are headed someplace interesting, take along a sketchbook and create a visual journal of your trip. It’s a great way to remember your journey and to capture the essence of the places you visit.