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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!

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Thrive: Word of The Year 2017

Word of the Year: Thrive

Happy New Year!

It's the start of another year. A great time to re-align our goals - and dream away.

Yes, in reality, it's just another day. Nothing truly special or magical on New Year's Day. It's only special and magical if we assign that meaning to it. And, yes, I choose to do just that. In fact, I love what Sarah Ban Breathnach says about the first day of the new year:

"New Year's Day. A fresh start. A new chapter in life waiting to be written. New questions to be asked, embraced, and loved. Answers to be discovered and then lived in this transformative year of delight and self-discovery. Today, carve out a quiet interlude for yourself in which to dream, pen in hand. Only dreams give birth to change."

That's why I usually try to prepare myself for this time of the year. For as long as I can remember, I've been journaling my reflections of the year that has passed - and writing about my hopes and goals for the year to come.

It's how I ended up with the One Word practice and my annual highlights.

And yes, I have chosen my 10th Word of the Year!

Using the One Word Workbook, I am embracing my Word of the Year in 2017: THRIVE.

According to, thrive means:

  1. to prosper; be fortunate or successful.
  2. to grow or develop vigorously; flourish.

It's a bold word in my book because whenever I choose a word, I often look at its opposite meaning. To me, this is important to think about because I believe that when we choose a word, we invite both its affirmative and negative energies to teach us something in our life that year.

That's why I never take the choosing of One Word for granted. It's powerful stuff. And, that's why I'm almost always a little bit scared whenever I choose a word.

In some ways, I see that as a good thing. To me, if I'm a little scared of the word, it means that it's meant to teach me something.

If you've used the One Word Workbook, you'd be familiar with some of these ideas and concepts. Including my annual habit of choosing a project to accompany my chosen Word of the Year.

My two favourite One Word projects are these two that I usually do at the beginning of the year:

  • Creating a Word Art based on my Word. In the past, I have often done this in an analog way. This year,  I opted to create a digital art version (see mock-up in the featured image). I created the initial idea for this late last year. And, I decided to make this available for others who might want a similar one to help them 'own' their Word.  So yes, if you're keen, you can get a custom digital art print of your Word of the Year. If you purchased the workbook, you would've also received a discount coupon for this custom art.
  • Finding an Inspirational Quote based on my Word. I would then either write this down somewhere - or create a piece using this quote. Here's one I created for Thrive:
"My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style." - Maya Angelou

"My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style." - Maya Angelou

My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive. - Maya Angelou Click To Tweet

I have shared more projects in my mini ebook, One Word Projects (available with the workbook).

So, why Thrive?

Well, for one, it's a word that has stayed with me over the last few years. It seems to be waiting its turn to take centre stage in my life. So, when I started writing in the workbook, and journaling, the word kept re-appearing.

And, I realised that yes, I don't want to just survive in 2017. I want to thrive - in life and in my business. And to me, thriving means not just growth or success. It's about growing and succeeding, amidst challenges and tough times.

You see, the last 6 months or so for me have been very tough and challenging - both personally and professionally. In fact, in some areas, the challenges seemed to have been going on for much longer.

Some of the challenges can't be easily changed or removed. So, I am choosing to thrive, in spite of that fact.

That's why over the coming days, weeks, and months, I hope to learn what it means to really thrive. Perhaps, find out how I thrive. Some people thrive in adversity. Or chaos. Or external validation. I want to define my own key to thriving. And, I also look forward to understanding what it means to empower others to thrive.

This is the exciting part of choosing One Word. The part where I make it 'mine' by doing these projects, asking these questions, and maintaining an ongoing interest on how to embed the word in my life.

What about you? Have you chosen your One Word yet? What's your Word of the Year in 2017 - and how are you making it truly yours?

And yes - if you follow me on Instagram and/or Facebook, watch out for my first giveaway of the year. You'll get the chance to win your own copy of the One Word Workbook (with One Word Projects Mini Ebook) and/or a Custom Digital Art of your Word of the Year.

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Record Your Year With One Word [Free Printable / Interactive PDF]

It's no secret. I'm a big fan of the One Word practice. I love it so much, I ended up writing a workbook and a mini ebook about it.

I'm also a fan of year-end round-ups. I've done it a few times on this blog. Usually, as my last blog post or my first couple of blog posts in the new year.

Sometimes, though, year-end highlights can be a bit overwhelming to write. So, I thought this year, I'd do a different kind of round-up.

This is how I ended up with The Year in One Word printable/interactive PDF worksheet. It's now available for free in our newly revamped* Content Library. So, anyone who wants to look back on their year and record some words to remember their year can do so in a simple manner.

The image below shows the worksheet as a blank printable, which you can print using your own printer and fill out using pens, pencils, and markers. It also features my own filled-in worksheet, which I did using my computer.

The Year In One Word

I'm really pleased with how The Year in One Word printable/interactive PDF worksheet turned out. It's possible I may have spent way too much time designing it. But, I think I'd enjoy using this every year, so I figure that it's worth it. It would be even more worth the time if other people would find it useful too. That's why it's now in the Content Library.

The general idea is that this resource enables us to come up with one word summaries for the year. It has a spot to write down our Word of the Year. Then, each month of the year has a place where we can write a one word summary for that month. If we'd like to add one word (or a few) notes in each month to remember some things, there's a spot for those notes too.

I enjoyed making - and filling-in - this journaling worksheet. It was lovely to look back on the year (even with some of its tough and painful bits)... without feeling overwhelmed with all the writing and journaling.

So, I hope that you would find this useful in recording your year too!

If you're a subscriber, you'll be getting an email with the latest password for the library. If you're not subscribed yet, just sign up and make sure you watch out for your Welcome Email. That's where you'll find the password.

Happy reflecting! And, may your new year be even more amazing!


* The content library has been through several revamps this year, as new resources become available and taking list members' feedback into consideration. My hope is to design and develop a content library that's super useful, beautiful, and simple to access for list subscribers.

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One Word Workbook – Tips + Video Walkthrough

When One Word Workbook launched last week, I was cautiously hopeful. It's something that I've wanted to do and share for so long, I was really hoping that others would love it like I do.

So far, I've heard some great feedback. My biggest pleasure is seeing the workbook actually used by someone to find focus and inspiration.

To show that I'm actually using this workbook for my own One Word of the Year, I decided to do a video walkthrough (see below). It felt a bit odd, reflecting and writing 'in public' - my thoughts, feelings, and experiences laid bare. Granted, it's all sped up, but I still felt quite vulnerable. 🙂

The great part: I'm absolutely certain that the workbook works! As I went through the exercises myself, I found my mind getting clearer with the words that mean something to me this year. And, ones that would help to guide me for the next year. I'll be revealing my Word of the Year in 2017, but you can see in this video now how I got to that point.

Thing is - I knew it would work. As I mentioned in my previous blog post and on the workbook, it is a process that I have been using for years. I even started writing it all up 3+ years ago, thinking I'd create an online workshop. But, I now think that the workbook format is a good one.

In any case, as I was filling out the workbook, I thought I'd share some tips on making the most out of the process:

Tip 1: Answer each exercise as best as you can.

Even if it's just a few words. You don't need to write in full sentences. If you notice in my entries, I used a lot of a just words and phrases. Incomplete thoughts. But, it's good to work on each concept in the process. It really helps!

There were a couple of times I thought I'd skip some, especially since I was doing a video capture. I thought people would understand. But, I also realised that it is detrimental to my own process. So, I kept at it. And I'm glad.

Tip 2: Don't get stuck!

Even if you feel like you only have one or two things to write for now, that's okay. Keep moving! Don't stop. Just allow your mind to unfurl and open itself up on the page. Don't overthink. Reflect, write, and then go to the next item.

Tip 3: Allow yourself to move forward and backward in the process.

Yes, One Word is not necessarily a linear process. If you filled out a box and decided to move on, it's okay to go back. Add some more words, phrases, or sentences to something you thought you've already completed.

Tip 4: Be open!

When I was collecting my words - I didn't discount my sources. I found words from books nearby, receipts, letters, poems, notes, boxes, Post It Notes, and such. I let everything speak to me.

And, in the process, I discovered words that I didn't think I'd even consider on a usual basis. The theme that emerged was completely unexpected, but not a surprise.

Tip 5: Use the resources available.

I've added links and such in the workbook. Make use of it! It's helpful to have an internet connection available, especially if you're filling the workbook out digitally.

If you decide to print out the workbook like Margo Min, have your digital resources handy. Or, at least, keep a dictionary and thesaurus nearby.

Oh, and yes - don't forget to save your work while you're filling out the workbook!

If you haven't got a copy yet, get your One Word Workbook here. And, please do keep me posted. I'd love to know how you're going with your One Word journey!

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Find Focus and Create Change With One Word

As the end of the year closes in, how do you start winding down and preparing for the new year?

Usually, there are holiday parties, family get-togethers, and glorious get-aways that take up a lot of our energy during this season. So, taking time for planning and preparation can be a challenge.

However, one of the things that CAN make a difference in how our year unfolds may be attributed to how we approach the coming days, weeks, and months.

That's why one of the many long traditions in our society is making New Year's Resolutions. We make them with the hope of creating the change we hope for in our lives. But, unfortunately, it's something that most of us inevitably break within a few days of stating our resolutions.

Goal-setting is also another practice that many undergo in the new year. Myself included. I love setting goals. But usually, what we hope to achieve at the beginning of the year may not be the same a few months into the year. Our situations change. Our viewpoints shift.

So, while a year's worth of goal setting is also great practice, this is actually something that should be approached with a bit more fluidity. We need to review and adjust our goals every few months or so to make them fit into the more current version of ourselves.

One Word. Find Focus. Create Change.

That's why One Word is better than New Year's Resolutions and Big Goals.

The practice of One Word is not one that you can break or fail easily, like New Year's Resolutions. It also doesn't need to be reviewed and adjusted regularly, like goal setting.

If you've given your One Word enough time and consideration at the start, it's an amazing tool to use as a guide throughout the year. And, if you commit to 'owning' your One Word throughout the year, it can leave a lasting, life-changing impact.

Blogger and fashionista extraordinaire Julie Bonner of has this to say about the One Word practice:

"Once I started doing a word of the year instead of resolutions, things started falling into place. It also made making decisions so much easier because I base them on my word."

Julie Bonner,

And, I wholeheartedly agree. One Word offers a simple and powerful way to find focus and create change.

That's why when people started asking me questions like: "How do you choose your One Word of the year?" or "Do you find that you lose touch with your One Word as the year goes on?" - I started taking notes and documenting my own One Word process.

I want to help others find the joy and empowerment that One Word can bring. That's why I ended up creating the One Word Workbook, as well as its companion resource, the One Word Projects mini ebook.

LEARN MORE About One Word Workbook

What's One Word Workbook all about?

In a nutshell, One Word Workbook is a 50+ page PDF document with tips, ideas, interactive ('fillable') pages, inspirational quotes, and check-in pages. It helps to guide you in a more thoughtful, considered way of choosing your One Word for the year. And, it provides some resources to keep you accountable and focussed, so you can really 'own' your Word and keep it top of mind throughout the year.

This type of commitment to your One Word helps to unleash its real power and potential in your life.

After all, what's the point in choosing a Word of the Year if it doesn't really do anything for you, right?

In my experience, such a commitment to my One Word helped to open an incredible array of opportunities and lessons that helped me to grow and find abundance in many ways. Amazing businesses, friendships, jobs… These are just some things that have come about through my words of the year over the last 8+ years. This is why I love sharing about this practice.

I know many others have found similar successes and joy. And, I hope that many more will find such rewards from the One Word practice.

If you're someone who wants to see what One Word can bring you in the coming year (or even many years to come), I hope that you'll give One Word Workbook a go. I look forward to supporting you in the process!

Words are powerful energies

What about One Word Projects?

One Word Projects is a 20+ page mini ebook in PDF format. It contains 10 projects, with tips and ideas on how you can maximise the use of your One Word. You can opt for simple or more elaborate approaches to the projects.

The idea is that you get to develop a relationship with your One Word, so you can experience its true value and impact.

So, remember: Choose your One Word wisely!

You will have to live with it for a year. And, if all goes well, even for longer than that.

Yes, you can choose it using a 'gut-feel' approach. This can work for a number of people. In fact, I've done it during the first couple of words I've chosen. It's only when I realised just how powerful it is to choose a word that I decided to be more careful and deliberate.

No matter how you decide to choose your One Word, it will attract certain people, situations, events, and opportunities into your life. That's why it's important to have that confidence in the word that you invite into your life.

So, if you would like some guidance on choosing and committing to your word, then One Word Workbook might be able to help.

LEARN MORE About One Word Workbook
Find Focus. Create Change. Choose ONE WORD for the Year! Click To Tweet

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