Just the Essentials

So many lists. Still a lot to do. My trip to Italy is a week away and I am nearly ready…but not quite. There’s still paring down and packing and final workshop preparations, but what else can I manage to cram in? A bit of gardening? A few Italian language lessons? House cleaning? Another pre-trip journal page? Alas, this will be my last blog post for a few weeks as I like to unplug and immerse myself fully in a place while traveling and teaching. I’ll share my journey upon my return. A presto!

Tips and Techniques– I typically start a new journal when traveling, but I don’t want a big blank page staring at me when I arrive. Instead, I try to do some pre-trip pages to set the stage. This really helps me begin to think about letter styles, subject matter, color schemes, and materials. You can see that here on the opening page of place names. My initial idea for “Just the Essentials” was to sketch my shoes and my art supplies. But after struggling with the shoes, I decided to pull in the color grid element from the opening page and simply list the supplies. Who knows what will come next! Do you like to start ahead or do you wait until you are on location to begin your travel sketching?

Heads up: If you are near New York City and looking to celebrate spring, check out the New York Botanical Garden’s Colors of Spring and Plein-Air Invitational on May 14. I may be very jet-lagged, but I’ll be there.

33 Comments on “Just the Essentials

  1. Have fun in Italy!! Yes, I like to do a couple pages before I go over, too!! Title page with the whole theme…and prep for the trip!! Can’t wait to see your pages once you get over there!! YAY!!!

  2. Sometimes I do both. Before our trip to Maine, I did several pages of sketches. It was like a bucket list of all we wanted to do when we arrived. Then I sketched while there. I was surprised later to see we had done so much more. Usually ,though,I do it on the spot. Love your idea. And your layout.

  3. Have a wonderful trip. Your sketchbook is off to a bellissimo start!

  4. This looks so exciting, Jean! Enjoy every minute and all that meets you there! Looking forward to your “report” back!
    Safe travels🙏🌻✒️🖌🖍🖊📒❤️💛💙

  5. I can sense your utter excitement about this upcoming travel adventure! Undoubtedly you will have an incredible time exploring and discovering, journaling and teaching. Will those be your traveling shoes? Is that a painting of a bird you expect to find in Italy? Your lettering styles are bold, graceful and fun. Have a marvelous time Jean!
    My US and Canada travel journal has more pages than I expect to fill in one trip, so with each following adventure I continue on until the pages are full. It makes a nice reference on our travels. But when traveling abroad, a new journal is a must, and like you I also complete a page or two before departing, just to warm up!

  6. Enjoy every moment! Looking forward to seeing your pages after the trip — a dream trip, indeed! I don’t do pages in advance of a trio but I really like the idea of a bucket list page! I do try to hold myself to sketching 1 thing from each day or segment of the trip so I capture a theme for the day. My tendency is to want to sketch everything, but I probably won’t have time, so a theme page with a bit of writing or facts included seems to work well!

    • I usually commit to a page a day too. Otherwise I get ahead of myself and can’t finish. There has to be a balance between experiencing things and sketching the experience. Thanks for your good wishes!

  7. How exciting! Have a superb trip. I look forward with anticipation to the post-trip posts.
    I recently travelled to Salt Spring Island in British Columbia and kept a small travel journal of sorts (a first) which I am completing (words, collage, adding colour) now that I’m home. The first page is still blank. 😆
    Thanks to all who commented with their own tips.
    Ciao. Buon viaggio!!!

  8. Thank you for the wonderful inspiration.  Have a wonderful, safe & healthy trip.  Look forward to seeing your sketches upon your return.

    Pam HerlihySacramento CA

  9. Jean – have a wonderful trip! I daydream about art lessons in some beautiful part of the world, but that doesn’t seem to be in the cards for me. Lucky you – teach, see, enjoy.

  10. No photo? Thanks for sharing. I always enjoy your posts. Pat Spencer

    Sent from my iPhone


  11. Its that thing about for each trip you travel 3 times… but I haven’t yet done satisfying Pre-Trip journal page(s)! This summer I will, and your spreads are inspiring! Have I mentioned my Italy Envy?? 😂 I can’t feel too bad though, I have a couple of BC jaunts planned. I can’t wait to see your sketches!! Buon Viaggio!!

  12. Have a blast! I generally do several pages in a journal before leaving. Often a map, clothes I am taking, an itinerary with flight info, sketch kit, etc. I probably do it to avoid packing.

  13. I LOVE that your’ve drawn your shoes – Tracey Fletcher King (rest her soul) and Jane LaFazio draw and paint shoes and I’m always so inspired to give it a try – seeing yours just gives me that bit of boost! And I’m obsessed with your shoes – never heard of this brand before and I’m ALWAYS looking for comfortable shoes, especially now that I have a recovering from injury knee – hoping for many more sketches of shoes and your critique about how they fulfilled their mission on your glorious Italian trip. Also, of course, looking forward to sketches of birds and whatever else takes your eye!

    • I don’t want to burst your enthusiasm for shoes, but drawing them is not easy. I totally messed up my ink sketch, which is why I painted over it in gouache instead of watercolor. Still, I love sketching shoes and these are a worthy subject. Who knows, if it rains all week as is forecasted, we may be drawing a lot of shoes and few birds. I plan to enjoy it all regardless!

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