Whether you’re traveling to exotic places or just to the corner coffee shop, the lazy days of summer offer a dramatic change of pace from the sights and sounds of the school year. From colors and textures to shapes and compositions, capturing the cool things you see in a traveling sketchbook can provide inspiration year round!
A small sketchbook is perfect for fitting in your purse or travel bag. Keep it with your keys so you’re sure to grab it every time you leave the house. Take a moment to stop and sketch the interesting things you see during your day, such as:
Master of the traveling sketchbook, Danny Gregory, recommends sketching daily. Having trouble finding a worthy subject? Danny suggests sketching multi-sensory experiences, unidentifiable objects, boring everyday objects, and honing in on the details.
A combination mood book/scrapbook/sketchbook, you can also tuck inspiring finds into it, using a small glue stick to adhere them to your pages when you get back. Consider including things like:
- Color Diary. Focus on one color a day, sketching that particular object or tearing photos out from magazines. When concentrating on one color, you might be surprised at what you learn. Do you see any trends? Specific colors used on specific products, for example?
- Material Swatches. Find a unique texture or design on a textile piece? Add it to your sketchbook. From napkins to clothing, amazing patterns abound and might make an awesome addition to a future piece.
- Magazine Pictures. Tear out images that strike you for any reason—unique color combinations, compositions, designs, art pieces that you’d like to modify… anything.
- Maps. From the muted colors to the random patterns, maps have made an appearance in many a masterpiece, including several by Vermeer. Stash a swatch from your travel map (once you’ve made your way home, of course) in your sketchbook.
- Stamps. Cool colors, inspiring subjects, interesting artwork… stamps are rife with inspiration! Check the ones on your incoming mail at home and definitely visit the post office of any foreign lands you visit for these fun and inspiring keepsakes.
- Quotes. Whether you use the actual quote in your artwork, a saying that inspires—or makes you laugh—is worth keeping in your sketchbook. You never know when you might need a little pick-me-up.
- Candy Wrappers. From modern designs to vintage layouts, candy wrappers—and other consumables packaging—makes great food for thought.
- Rubbings. If the pages of your book are thin enough, toss an unwrapped crayon in your bag and take a rubbing of the interesting building materials you come across. From brick to concrete to fossils, there are some amazing textures to be captured if you’re on the lookout.
Remember, your traveling sketchbook is not an exercise in neatness. The messier, the better. Your book should be bulging with bits of inspiration you’ve collected from all over. Neat and tidy doesn’t always tend to inspire, but piles of materials are sure to get your creative juices flowing.
You can also turn your traveling sketchbook into a collaborative project. With a true traveling sketchbook, it’s the sketchbook that does the traveling, moving from one owner to the next, each adding their own sketches, thoughts, and inspiration before passing it along, again, to the next contributor. Consider exchanging your sketchbook with fellow art teachers in your area this summer. You may come away with an interesting new creative perspective. You might also consider this as an ongoing class project, with each student adding an entry (or a few) to the sketchbook before passing it on the next student.
What inspires you? Can you capture it in a traveling sketchbook? Let us know in the comments below.