Photo caption: Although she sometimes has a proper studio, Esther Franchuk must be flexible when it comes to studio space when she’s traveling. Photo courtesy of the artist.
Artists travel with a fire in their heart to find and communicate the beauty of this world. However, there are barriers we all face and must overcome on our journeys, and professional artists are no exception.
In the first part of this three-part series about traveling artist Esther Franchuk, we had the opportunity to hear a bit about how her explorer brand voice emerged, as well as to hear about her experiences in Greece as she traveled with the Milans and the rest of the school group.
In this part, we will dive deeper into some of Esther’s past travel experiences that helped her solidify her understanding of what it meant to be a traveling artist. We will also talk with her about when she first started traveling internationally and how those experiences are reflected in her travel sketching and painting activities.
Given that Esther is now so closely associated with traveling and painting around the world, you’d be forgiven for thinking that she has been traveling and painting for decades.
However, that isn’t the case. She says:
It’s hard to believe, but I first went abroad when I was like 21 years old, so it was pretty recent. It was just like five years ago. And that was my first trip ever outside my home country.
She did have some advantages, though, when she was ready to add the travel sketching and painting element to her artist brand. What some people may not know is that before Esther studied in the Mastery Program at the Milan Art Institute, she was in a traditional art school in her home country of Ukraine. It was there that she first learned that it was important to go outside and paint.
Ever since I was in my first art school back when I was 15, every time, we will go outside and…just sketch outdoors and bring all this travel art supplies and sit on the street and paint the buildings or draw the different architecture elements and all of that.
And it felt just so alive, like you just immerse yourself into the place and you feel more deeply and you remember all of the details. You remember the smell, the taste, the sounds. You remember what the people walking by looked like and what they said and how they reacted and it just creates this image of a real artist that stands in the street, painting live. It’s this interactive experience.
So I think that was when the real drive for art on the go started for me personally because I was just so immersed in the atmosphere of creating a memory and creating an experience instead of just taking a picture and working in your studio.
Artist Esther Franchuk has experienced working in a studio and outdoors, allowing her to expand her visual expression. Photo courtesy of the artist.
Despite coming from a tradition of painting on location (plein air), Esther experienced a few missteps when she was first learning what it meant to travel with art supplies. It was her trip to Asia and Nepal that taught her the importance of carrying an ample amount of art supplies.
And that’s when it hit me so hard that I was in one of the most beautiful places on earth and I didn’t have much art supplies with me, just like these small sketchbooks. So I explored and researched in the town, the closest town nearby and the only thing I could find was this really cheap watercolor paper that wasn’t even meant for watercolor because it was so thin and bad quality but I just didn’t care.
I bought that paper as much as I could, as much as they had in the school supply store because it was a really poor area and there wasn’t much there to find and I had my really small set of watercolor and my other sketchbook. And that’s where I got really excited, really passionate about painting live in these places because that’s where I remembered my art school years and painting in my hometown.
And I was thinking, the way I felt back then was just so wonderful and beautiful and how much more memories I would create if I paint here in the Himalayas, in Nepal.
She admits that the trip to Asia was an intense one, but ultimately, it was that experience that allowed her to find her way.
So I was painting mountains, painting streets, painting every single free moment of my trip because it was a really intense trip as well. It included a lot of social work. There was no electricity, no running water. We were all really tired and exhausted. Art was like my escape and just like my place to process and observe and it was just really beautiful and I think that’s when officially me traveling with art started in that three-month trip to Nepal.
Esther has gained quite a bit of wisdom in her travels, which allows her to really make the most of each location she’s in. Here are a few of the takeaways from her early years as a traveling artist.
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