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Sketching En Route

Finding time to do the things we really want to do, rather than squishing them in when time allows, takes some creativity and planning. If you’ve always wanted to do a journal with drawings when traveling, perhaps this will be an encouragement.
The small (5.5×3.5) accordian-style Moleskine sketchbooks have become favorites for daily travel sketches. The paper is smooth, almost velvety, and takes rollerball pens for a “skate.” The nib glides over the surface and makes drawing effortless. This is not the paper for watercolor – I use it for contour drawings. The fold out pages allow a very wide landscape drawing if you like though mine are usually a double, or 7″ wide.

The images shown are from a 2008 trip to Prague which preceded a river cruise to Berlin and then on to London to meet my husband. I made a sketch each day from May 26 to June 29, just a simple contour to serve as a memory and to hone my eye and hand. This can be surprisingly difficult to do whether you are on a painting/sketching trip or traveling with others who do not draw. By making that pledge to yourself, the daily log is more likely to be accomplished.

This tiny sketch book is a wonderful distillation of that trip. In the first drawing I’m reminded of that first overeager, exhausting day where I gratefully sank into a bench to sketch beneath a leafy tree. The second was done with a cool drink in Prague’s Old Towne Square where we were treated to a raucous parade celebrating something and then the 148 steps I climbed in the lesser Town Bridge Tower to get a different view of the city. 
The first of the second group was done while I was sopping wet and grateful to get out of the rain. Brenda Swenson and I had misjudged the storm and finally sought refuge in a bar where the proprietress gave us handfuls of napkins since she had no towels. This one evokes strong memories but likely would not have been included in a larger sketchbook. The Municipal House was an Art Deco delight and these are just a suggestion of the stained glass windows. Prague’s many towers and spires  made for a fun day which we declared “wonky style”. We worked in this whimsical way for the entire day. 

Daily sketches, whatever size, build skill and the “hurry-up” element is good for looking clearly and working quickly. I find these wee sketches an amazingly accurate way to recall the sights, sounds and experiences – even those several years past.
And the best thing? Your travel mates will love to see what you’ve done and the more you do the better you get, no matter what age. How many things can you do with that promise?


  1. renaissancerules
    July 24, 2010

    Wonderful sketches and encouragement, Judy. Thank you. I found personal journaling very difficult to begin after a professional lifetime of daily, multiple-meeting note taking and sketching – a form of journaling but very limiting. Encouraging everyone to break out and do it without the worry of accountability to a client or group – regardless of skill or appearance – is a great lesson to teach!

  2. dottykatz
    July 30, 2010

    You mean we might get better if we practice? 🙂 Who would have thunk it?

    I'm enjoying your blog. Thanks for sharing!


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