Expressive Travel Sketching Workshop in Adelaide

Getting Started With Expressive Travel Sketching

Expressive Travel Sketching Workshop in Adelaide

Although I've been travel sketching on and off for most of my life, I didn't really take it too seriously until I made the decision to do so. I remember the exact circumstance: I was turning 40 and my husband encouraged me to go on a life-changing art trip to Italy. It was one of those major bucket list things: To go on a trip specifically for my art practice.

I decided that since I was going on an art trip with a group of fellow artists - sans husband and kids - I was going to live out my fantasy of spending most of my days during the trip in the pursuit of art.

Before going on that trip, I prepared for it by researching what would be the best art materials to take with me for travel sketching. I also tried to read as many blogs and books about sketching that I could find. That's when I discovered all about the growing movement of Urban Sketching. I was hooked.

Unfortunately, at the time, I couldn't find any travel sketching or urban sketching classes in my city or online. There weren't as many books available either. So, I just tried to learn as I went along.

So, I packed my travel sketching kit and went on an art adventure. I tried recording my trip from the moment I got on the plane. And, I tried to sketch at least one thing every day - from the streets of Rome and the ruins of Pompeii to the coast of Amalfi and the Tuscan Hills. It was bliss!

My fellow art tour mates were very supportive of my travel sketching practice. They looked at my sketches from the day and asked a lot of questions about sketching materials and techniques. It was then that I began playing with the idea of teaching sketching classes.

I didn't act on that idea immediately. However, I did get invited to teach art classes in a local art studio (the same people who organised the Italy trip). Since then, my art life has evolved and grown a lot. But, that travel sketching class idea was still put on hold.

Then, a couple of months ago, I received a very exciting invitation to hold a workshop at one of Adelaide's wonderful art supplies shop. The manager of the shop is one of my lovely Italy art tour mates. And yes, the best part: I get to teach Expressive Travel Sketching, live in Adelaide.

So, yes, come 4th of March 2017, Saturday, 1 to 4pm, I'll be holding the first ever Expressive Travel Sketching Workshop at Art Stretchers Adelaide. To learn more about the workshop and/or to book your spot, go to this page: Expressive Travel Sketching Workshop (Adelaide).

We're only able to allocate 8 places for this workshop and a few of those places have already been pre-paid and reserved. So, if you want to join us, do book your place soon.

It's our fifth day in London and getting ready for another full on day. Trying to keep up with my #DailyArt posts, even though the order is all over the place. This one's from Day 220.

What Is Expressive Travel Sketching?

In a nutshell: It's all about travel sketching using your own way of expressing what you see in the world.

It's not about getting perfect perspectives and straight lines. It's not about drawing and sketching in photographic ways - you have your camera for that.

Expressive travel sketching is all about recording your experiences using lines, shapes, textures, and colours that speak to you. It's about putting down memories on the pages of your sketchbooks. To make your experiences last longer, better than any photograph could.

In the workshop, I'll be sharing some materials, tips, and techniques to help participants learn how to record their travels in their sketchbooks with confidence and joy.

Realised my last #DailyArt post was from Day 219. It has been so hectic, so haven't had time to post more. Now, here's my first attemp at urban sketching in London. Unfinished sketch of Tower Bridge after a tour of Tower of London, on Day 222. And Day 2 o

How Do You Get Started With Expressive Travel Sketching?

There is no magic formula: You just need to start where you are!

Over the last couple of years, I've been privately sharing information to friends and peers whenever they ask questions about my travel sketching practice. What are the best materials to use and take with you? How do you begin a sketch? How do you sketch quickly?

When pressed for time, all you really need for your travel sketching are two things: Your sketchbook and a pen. They're the only materials I use consistently.

Basic Travel Sketching Kit

When I'm able to take my 'extended' travel sketching kit with me, here's a list of additional basic things I use:

  • Portable Sketchbook - Usually, A5 size or smaller; my favourite right now is a 4x4 inch travel sketchbook I bought from Paris a few months ago. Yes, it's great if you can start collecting sketchbooks and other sketching materials from places you travelled to. I bought my first pen nib and ink in an old paper museum in Amalfi, Italy. And, during a recent trip to England, I bought a set of coloured pens. Such purchases become part of your travel memories.
  • Black Felt Tip Pen - Preferably, one that can create varying lines like a metal pen nib or fountain pen. But, your regular black pen would do (Sharpie, Micron, Artline, Uniball - 0.5 or 0.4). Try to bring at least a couple of back-up pens, in case you misplace or lose one. But, one pen usually lasts a while and they're generally easy to replace (unless you're going some place really remote like the middle of an African bushland).
  • Portable Watercolour Paint Set - You can buy pre-packaged ones with 6  to 12 half-pans of watercolours. Or, you can create your own using an empty travel palette and tubes of paint. Make sure to have your primaries: Red, Blue, Yellow. Other recommended colours: Green, Brown, and Grey or Black. Orange and Purple tend to be easy to mix. But, a nice Pink, Fuschia, or Magenta, as well as Turquoise and Teal  are all a bit tougher to mix. If you think you'll use those colours, best to get them pre-mixed. Some brands to consider include: Winsor and Newton, Golden, and Daler-Rowney.
  • Waterbrushes - These are paint brushes that you can fill with water, so all you need to do is to squeeze it a little to moisten your paints. They're absolutely amazing! I love mine. At a minimum, I like having at least two: one with a fine tip and another one with a broader tip. Usually, round brushes, not flats. If you can only bring one: choose the one with a fine tip. Some recommended brands: Pentel, Sakura, and Art Spectrum.
  • Tissues (Travel Pack) or Rag - For cleaning your brushes between changing colours and at the end of the session. For blotching and/or keeping pages dry. Lots of uses for this!
  • Watercolour Pencils - These are especially handy when you visit places that only allow dry medium (like museums and galleries), so you can add colour to your sketches without dealing with water on the spot. You can always soften the pencil marks with a waterbrush later on. Just 6 to 12 colours would do. There are varying quality and prices for watercolour pencils. For the cheaper range that are still decent: Steadtler, Micador, and Crayola. For higher end and better quality: Prismacolor and Daler-Rowney.
  • Sharpener - Ones that have a case for holding pencil shavings would be best.
  • Mechanical Lead Pencil - Preferably, one with a fine lead (0.5mm). I usually go straight to paint or pen when travel sketching, or use watercolour pencils. But, occasionally, I feel the need for good old pencil for certain techniques and styles. Try to bring at least two, so you have one back-up. Any brand would do. I usually just buy the cheap ones from Big W, Target or any supermarket and newsagent.
  • Water - To keep hydrated and for refilling your waterbrushes. Though you can always refill your waterbrushes during toilet stops or back at your travel accommodation.
  • Travel Sketching Kit Case -  A place to put everything in securely. Mine's an old pencil case that my daughter owned but wasn't using at the time.
  • Camera Phone or Camera - Technically not a sketching material, but it's handy to have. Especially if you wish to record the scene you're sketching, so you can refer to it later if you need to add finishing touches to your sketches. It's also a good tool to use for remembering your sketching session (see photos above, like the one sketch with Tower Bridge).

I usually bring this kit in a separate bag or backpack, together with a DSLR camera and other travel gear. I keep my essentials (i.e., small sketchbook, pen, pencil) in my handbag, so I can easily take them out when there's a quick opportunity to sketch.

Travel Sketching Kit

I'll be sharing more tips and techniques at the Expressive Travel Sketching Workshop. And hopefully, also in future blog posts if any of you are interested. Just let me know through comments or emails!

About the Author Shai Coggins (MTeach, MSoc Sci App Psych)

Shai has been managing and blogging here at ShaiCoggins.com for 17 years. Here, she writes about creativity, productivity, and how to recharge for a better, happier lifestyle. She is the author of Today: Life Journal, Colour Bliss: Kaleidoscopes, and a little known children's book. A serial entrepreneur, Shai also currently runs Vervely.com, a boutique digital media agency offering online content, community, and conversion marketing services. Her blogging experience and digital work have been featured in various media, including being listed in Fast Company's "Most Influential Women in Technology" list. Originally from Manila, Shai lived in Singapore and the USA before moving to Australia with her British husband. They have two children, a pet bunny, and a rambunctious rescue Labrador.

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