Photo caption: Travel and urban sketching fill your sketchbooks with new color palettes and give you an opportunity to try out new art supplies. Photo courtesy of John Milan.
It’s exhilarating: freedom of being the master of your time. That’s why life as a traveling artist is a very joyous one. It’s almost like playing 24/7! Seeing beautiful sights, trying new foods, learning about other cultures, and so many more benefits come with the experience of travel. Pair that with the ability to make beautiful art, and you’re in for having incredible life-changing memories!
One challenge you may come across on this beautiful adventure is balancing the time you have to create consistently. Practical things, like location, weather, and space play a role in procrastination. Below are some practical tips for utilizing your time on your travel and urban sketching adventures.
Pay attention to factors like the time of day, where the light is, and the weather when you’re painting outside or when the van is turned off. Be sure to estimate how much time you’d have to work outside before such factors begin to interfere with your work.
If you’re working in oils, the alla prima method is probably the best process for traveling. Working in alla prima means starting and completing a painting in the same sitting. This type of painting can end up being beautiful and lively, but you still have to be mindful of storage while the painting is drying.
Plein air boxes usually come with storage space that allows your painting to dry. You could also plan out your paintings and do one oil piece every couple of weeks to ensure that each piece will be dry and secure.
Having to wait for things to dry can be discouraging, however. If working in oils like this isn’t your preference, then there are a lot of supplies that are fast drying, portable, easy to use, and easy to clean up that you can use as well.
An alternative to alla prima is using mixed media supplies in your process instead. Either way, it’s imperative to know how to work quickly and to work in a process that you love. A good example of a process that works would be to work on several sketches at once, and then to add layers of mixed media marks and at once, and then finally, add paint to each piece as well.
This way a consistency in the look of your paintings will naturally emerge, and clean up will be much simpler after each session. For the final painting layer, you will waste less paint because you’d be working on multiple pieces at once.
This makes it more convenient than squeezing out paint for each piece, and having to clean up unused paint that could’ve been used in another painting.
As you continue to travel, you will become more innovative and resourceful with your process. You will start to get into a rhythm with exploring, observing, and making great art inspired by your adventures.
Memories created and captured through your artwork are highly valuable. Do not only yourself a favor, but also your collectors and the world a favor by recording those priceless moments and feelings you’ve experienced in your travel sketches. Make time for your art. This way, no matter where you are, you will find yourself at home.
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