Photo caption: Urban sketching and painting, and its broader counterpart, travel sketching and painting, offers an infinite source of ideas for artists. Photo by Valeria Ushakova from Pexels.
One of the most exciting things about being an artist is coming up with new ideas for your artwork. Sometimes, however, you can get to a point in the creative process where none of the ideas you have excite you, or worse, you can barely come up with any ideas at all.
In these moments, it’s important to remember that the world is a vast place, full of beauty, right down to the small details. That’s why urban and travel sketching and painting have been sources of inspiration for artists for generations.
Here’s what you need to know about drawing artistic inspiration from your travels.
This is where the power of traveling really shines. One of the most impactful and fun ways to recharge your creative batteries when it comes to getting inspiration is to travel. Going anywhere new will surely bring about ideas that will take your art to a new level.
When you’re free of everyday home distractions, you have the opportunity to be aware of other things around you. Constantly seeing places and things with fresh eyes helps to give you a fresh mindset as well. Traveling also offers many moments of reflection and contemplation, and as you grow as a person, it will reflect in your art.
Keeping a sketchbook while you travel is not only a great way to capture memories, but it also catalogs your ideas, impressions, and emotions in real time. It records valuable imagery, techniques, and color schemes to use for future reference. A sketchbook is also a place that allows you to be playful and experimental. It may be, for example, that you first realize that you have a new favorite color by looking at your urban and travel sketches and paintings. This may be due to you being influenced by the color palette of a new place.
In the Mastery Program, we encourage students to keep a board on Pinterest that contains all of their favorite visual symbols. This board is their personal symbols board. These could be animals like lions, insects like butterflies or bees or different patterns like zigzag patterns. This collection of images help art students develop their visual voice and their own unique style.
Urban and travel sketching and painting activities give you an excuse to seek out first hand what subject matter you are drawn to. For example, if you love to paint flowers, you can visit a botanical garden. If you love to paint animals, you can visit an animal sanctuary. If you love to paint landscapes or cityscapes, you can take photographs and make sketches of scenes you’re in the midst of.
More importantly, urban and travel sketching and painting also help you to find out what types of images you’re drawn to. These are images that you can later add to your personal symbols board to help you understand what your personal visual language is.
This practice even works if you paint abstracts, the new colors, patterns, and even scents and sounds will stimulate that poetic and nuanced part of yourself for future pieces. Experiencing what already inspires you in a new way will add a level of depth and power the next time you paint whatever subject matter you choose.
Contrary to what it may occasionally feel like, ideas are infinite. Every detail of your adventures will leave an impression on you that will later transform into amazing ideas to implement in the future.
There’s so much diversity in the world; food, architecture, music, customs, and so much more. The people you meet along the way are vast reservoirs of knowledge and resources, just waiting to be tapped into. As you connect with them, the incredible memories that you’ve shared will also translate into ideas for your paintings.
The beautiful life experiences you record in your travel and urban sketching and painting activities will enrich your life and your art exponentially. Stepping away from the easel in order to produce newly charged artwork is wise; traveling is good for you! Remember to go out and explore the world, so you can return to the studio to add even more beauty to it.
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