25 September 2017

A Travel Journal

Hi guys! Have you visited new places recently? Like most people these days, we show off our travel photos on social media. It's immediate and we get comments right away.

As an alternative, do you keep a travel journal? I always have. Here's what they look like:

It's filled with checklists like landmarks to see and delicacies to try. I also write down my thoughts and highlights of the trip. But mostly, it's just words in these pages.

Do you know what some people do? They illustrate their trip! Let me show you:

via JR Sketches

The story of my red lines: pencils, setup lines and early work
via Liz Steel

Gurney Journey :: Mini Moleskine
via James Gurney
What sorcery is this? They're highly talented and I became jealous.

I want to be like them! So I'm learning more about this art. In my travel journals this year, I'm attempting to be more visual. I think it's a productive way to practice my brush letting and watercolor while telling a story.   

First, I gathered together my journaling kit. I keep it light and compact so it's easy to take anywhere.

I keep everything in a zipper pouch. Here's what's in it: 
  • Sketchbook - watercolor paper is my preference and this measures only 3.5 inches x 5 inches, making it less overwhelming to fill the page
  • Pencil - a mechanical pencil is ideal; no need for sharpening!
  • Eraser - I like using the pen eraser because it easily clips onto the sketchbook
  • Technical drawing pens in different point sizes - Micron, Le Pen and Sharpie are some of the brands I use
  • Paintbrushes - I have regular brushes and a nifty waterbrush (just press for water!) 
  • Ink pad and date stamp - these are not necessary but nice to have
  • Watercolors - an inexpensive set with primary colors suit me just fine

I like pan watercolors because they're less messy compared to tube watercolors. Did you know that you can remove the little pans from the tray? Yeah! You can customize a smaller set depending on what you'll be painting (ex. ocean blues or woodsy greens). I store mine in recycled mint tins...TADA! 

A sturdy, water-repellant envelope is a handy way to stash ephemera like tickets, receipts, coasters, and small keepsakes that you want to include in your journal page. It's a place where all these can hang-out while you await the next journaling opportunity. 

If you're travelling to many places (ex. different states across the US, or countries around Europe), use binder clips or an accordion envelope to segragate souvenirs.   

Here's a photo of my "work space" on a bench at the New York Botanical Gardens.

And here is another on a bench by the Hudson River.

Here are some attempts at illustrating my adventures:

New York Botanical Gardens exhibition

New York Botanical Gardens exhibition

New York City's Chinatown

Union Square Farmer's Market, New York City 

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Asbury Park, New Jersey

Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey

Portland apartments

The house on Vaugh Street

The Brooklyn Bridge, New York City 

These are my baby steps...TADA! 

Please stop by tomorrow. I'll show you another way how I practice this art.


  1. Your "attempts" as you call them are wonderful! They are happy and colorful. If you try to get TOO perfect with travel illustrations they look contrived and not like a person on vacation on the go. I have a tiny, little Sennelier brand set for the same purpose. (I like Sennelier's vibrant colors.)

    1. Oh Priscilla! You are always very encouraging! Thank you so much! I want to get a new set of watercolors...I just want to use this one up. I'll check out Sennelier for sure!

  2. Your "attempts" as you call them are wonderful! They are happy and colorful. Touvarism


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