Tag Archives: journaling

Filling the Well


Sea shells in grid pattern, travel journal by Lucinda Howe

In this technique, you go beyond simply recording, and start “filling the well” with source material for future creative ventures.  You begin to combine your experience of the place with your personal interests.  Of course, there are many ways to do this, but here are a few prompts to get you thinking.

  • Try some new ways of combining drawing and painting supplies.  Buy unfamiliar art supplies at local art supply shop.
  • Start a series of images based on your other interests – architecture, food, sports, shopping, animals, religion, etc.   Make notes on how to use these when you get home.
  • Leave some space to add photos or embellishments with other media after you return home.
  • Observe the local color palette and notice whether it influences you to change your usual palette.
  • Experiment with techniques and themes observed in galleries and museums
  • Pay attention to the design of the page as well as the content.  Think about whether you like things arranged on a grid or randomly.  Do you like richly layered pages with color out to the edge, or do you prefer a lot of white space?
  • Once you get home, use your journal as source material for new directions in your art.

For some really personal and inspirational journals, take a look at An Illustrated Life: Drawing Inspiration from the Private Sketchbooks of Artists, Illustrators and Designers by Danny Gregory.

Fair warning:  If you get hooked on visual/verbal journaling while you travel, don’t think you can give it up when you get home!

By the time you read this, I should be back from France.  Have I been practicing my own instructions?  I’ll give you a report next week.  Until then, keep drawing!


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Borrowing Language


Grand Cayman Restaurants, page from travel journal by Lucinda Howe

Words and images combine well in a travel journal.  But if you don’t consider yourself a writer, don’t dispair.  Here are several ways to add language to your pages.

  • Incorporate printed ephemera (items designed to be useful or important for only a short time such as  pamphlets, tickets, wine labels, store receipts).
  • Borrow words from signs, ads, restaurant menus in the language of the country you are visiting.  Write down snippets of conversations overheard in public places.  Collect local idioms.  Quote local celebrities.
  • Make notes of your observations.  For example, my notes from a previous trip to France say activity around the square included “a woman in a red dress walking four dogs with red bandanas”, and there was noise from the “Esthetique Canine blowdrying a fluffy poodle”.
  • Use letter stencils, drawn letters, handwriting, or calligraphy. Use the letters as design elements.
  • Make rubbings of signs or carvings using thin paper and crayon or graphite and add them to your journal.

If you are interested in journaling as an art form, both for travel and everyday life, a good resource is the book, The Decorated Journal: Creating Beautifully Expressive Journal Pages by Gwen Diehn.

Next week:   Filling the Well

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Getting Acquainted with the Landscape


The Island of Patmos, Small watercolor drawings from the travel journal of Lucinda Howe

In preparation for my upcoming trip to France, I’ve been reviewing my notes about travel journaling and looking back at what I’ve done on past trips.  Most of my journaling falls in three categories and requires only basic supplies such as a small watercolor kit and some pencils and pens.

Getting Acquainted:  Landscape “Snapshots”

When traveling to a new place, my first goal is to absorb the feel of the place.  I also want to be prepared to move when my traveling companions have taken photos and are ready to go.   In this case, I make small (approximately 4×6”) line drawings in pencil in my journal to capture basic shapes.  People are just torso and legs with a gesture or posture.  I may draw a door or flower box rather than the whole building.  Along with the drawing, I note the character of the place in words.  For example, “white rectangular buildings with red roofs, bright sun, strong shadows”  or “busy, noisy, colorful flower market”.  I also record the weather, sounds, and smells… church bells, diesel fuel, birds, lavender, etc.

When I stop for lunch or in the evening, I add color and details while the scene is still fresh in my mind.   For these small landscapes, a soft wash of color in the background and some foreground details with an ink pen may be all it takes.  In other cases I add color only in the area of greatest interest or define shapes with brush strokes.  I’m trying to create physical memory though my hands and not to worry about completing a painting.

I leave some white space on the page and add place names and dates, and soon the book is full of very personal landscape “snapshots”.


Next week:  Borrowing language


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