Drawing · Sketchpads

Should I Take My Sketchpad on Holiday?

I asked myself this very question as I was packing for my holiday earlier this summer.  For me it was a simple answer, yes. This was because I was going on an art holiday!  However in the past I haven’t always travelled with my sketchpad, in this post I want to describe the benefits as I see them of taking a sketchpad on holiday with you…

Keeping it Light 

First and foremost I think it is very important to be practical when packing art materials for a trip, you can’t bring everything. I cut it down to the essentials so I feel free and mobile.  My essentials might be different to yours, it depends on the media that you like to use.  I don’t like bringing paints or any wet media with me so I stick to dry media; pencil, pastel and charcoal.

I only bring the essentials; sketchpad, pencils, willow charcoal and putty rubber.

Responding To Your Environment

What I bring might depend on where I am going, for example I might want to bring greys, blues etc. for an environment like the Irish Sea and maybe a different palette of colours if it is the Mediterranean Sea like aqua blue and white.  I think about a palette of colours I would like to work with, or just go greyscale with pencil and charcoal.  This can be frustrating if you are somewhere very colourful if you don’t have the colours! This is where the camera can be helpful.

Not Just Sketching…

Being in a different environment is stimulating to our creativity because we are seeing new things, new shapes, new colours.  I find I like to use my sketchpad as a type of journal as well, I write down things in it, doodle, collect imagery, objects.

I started keeping travel journals as a child, I used to stick things in it like sugar sachets from all the guesthouses, hotels and cafes we used to visit.  I also used to enjoy writing down what I’d had for breakfast and draw pictures. These journals then evolved into sketchpads. I think sketchpads should be personal to you and used for whatever inspires you and we don’t necessarily have to ‘sketch’ in a sketchpad.

A doodle inspired by some graffiti art.

Here is a doodle of some graffiti art I saw while on travels in Berlin…inspiration is all around us!

I am always grateful after the trip or holiday that I took my sketchpad because it is a personal record of that time.  As someone who doesn’t like clutter I don’t like collecting things but I have held onto a sketchpad from a trip I made to Scotland in the 90’s.  It is a very special memory of the time I  had there, the watercolour sunsets and mountain views I tried to capture aren’t great but that doesn’t matter to me.  The strange thing is that when I look at the watercolour sketches I can remember exactly where I was and how it felt.

Be inspired on your travels and make sure you have your sketchpad by your side to capture it!


5 thoughts on “Should I Take My Sketchpad on Holiday?

  1. Thanks Rebecca, good advice about thinking where you’re going in order to select a more limited palette. Hadn’t thought of that.

  2. I started taking a small art kit on holiday a few years ago. It’s been wonderful! I wish I could stick to dry media as you do but I find I am lost without paint.

  3. Absolutely take it, I took my watercolour sketch kit with me on holiday a couple of weeks back and some 6×4″ cut out watercolour paper.

    Whilst I only ended up doing four paint sketches of the holiday (and some other non-holiday related sketches) I’m absolutely certain I’ll remember them long after I’ve forgotten the photos.

    Added to which I’ve used artistic license and chopped out some details the camera would’ve caught but added nothing to the memory of the place.

    Next post should be “Should I carry my sketchbook at all times?”. To which I’m guessing you know the answer 🙂

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