Travel Sketching: An Interview With Traveling Artist Esther Franchuk, Pt. 3

By Milan Art Institute on July 9, 2021
Travel Sketching: An Interview With Traveling Artist Esther Franchuk, Pt. 3

Photo caption: Travel sketching and painting influences Esther Franchuk’s color choices, which can change, depending on the country. Photo courtesy of the artist. 

We all know that artists are world changers, but something that isn’t talked about enough is how artists must operate in the world they paint. There are challenges to overcome, compromises that must be made, and mindsets that we must shatter in order to break into our destinies. 

All this week, we have been following Esther Franchuk, an artist who is known for being a traveling artist. In part one of this series, we learned about her trip to Greece with the Milan Art Institute and in part two, we learned about how a trip to Nepal solidified her feelings about traveling in making art. 

In this final installment, we explore Esther’s adventures in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. We learn about how it has affected her choice of color, the projects she takes on and more. 

Tell Us About What Makes Mexico A Great Place to Paint

Photo caption: Art is everywhere in Mexico, which is why it’s such a wonderful place for travel sketching and drawing. Photo courtesy of Esther Franchuk.

According to Esther, 

Mexico is amazing because it’s really colorful. It’s really alive. There’s colorful buildings, the beautiful nature, beautiful amazing wildlife and there is so much culture and so much color and patterns, local dresses and clothing and colorful buildings, lots of flowers and animals. 

There are murals everywhere. The whole town is just covered in murals. Every single building is a piece of art. It’s all so vivid and colorful and alive and inspiring. I have just been really encouraged because I have never saw so much appreciation of art in any other country than I see here in Mexico.

…Everything is so authentic and so different from what you’re used to seeing in Europe or the US. It’s really an enriching culture. It’s a culture of creativity. There’s so many types of handmade art in every single medium. I’m really inspired by Mexico overall and it is one of my favorite places that I have been and that I have lived so far. 

What Would Surprise People About Being a Traveling Artist?

Esther admits that being a traveling artist, while rewarding, also comes with its share of challenges. Each time she travels to a new country, she must adjust to being in a new apartment and being around a new language and eating different food. Everything is new. Even doing art changes. 

She explains:

And it’s not always that easy. You can never have the proper studio. Basically, you’re always changing places. You learn to adjust and reinvent the place you create. You transform every single place you stay into a tiny art studio for a couple of days or a couple of weeks or a month. That has been my main challenge probably because I never have a home. 

It feels like the whole world belongs to me in some ways, but then I just miss having a wall-size easel and all of my art supplies close by. Every time I travel, I have to take the main, basic colors. Basic acrylic, basic oils. None of the extra stuff, so I only bring basics with me and then if I have to travel for longer - in this case, I’m almost four months in Mexico - I have to bring some of my stuff, but I also have to buy stuff. 

It’s not always the same quality and the same type of art supplies you’re used to, so that is like another challenge because you have to keep on painting and you have to keep on being inspired, for example.

The artist also admits that finding the motivation to paint larger pieces was elusive when she first arrived in Mexico. 

I wasn’t really motivated this last month to create big-sized pieces because I just had this idea that if I have to leave and I don’t find a place for all of these paintings, what am I going to do with them? It doesn’t make sense to create bigger pieces if you’re not staying for a while in the country. 

Art Opportunities for the Traveling Artist

Photo caption: The place where you travel can change your art in a good way. Photo courtesy of Esther Franchuk.

However, the motivation to do larger pieces returned to her when she got an unexpected opportunity while she was painting on the beach. She was basically discovered by someone who was going to be holding an art expo in a few weeks’ time. 

The only catch? She needed to have 10 big pieces ready to go for the show. This provided Esther with enough motivation to paint 10 large canvases in the space of about a week or so.

Here’s what she has to say about what that opportunity did for her motivation:

I was working really hard and it just reminded me once again how opportunities can pop up from nowhere but you have to act on your faith. If you want something to happen, like I really wanted the exhibition in Mexico, you have to act on it. 

You’re not just hoping for this to happen and then you don’t paint…I didn’t have all these [big] paintings, but then the opportunity showed up. I wanted it so badly, so I don’t care about what I am going to do with all of it. 

But I just really wanted the exhibition so I decided I was going to do this production week of 10 portfolio pieces just for that because in the end, that’s what I’m living for… to leave my mark in every place I go and to paint and to spread the beauty and to reach the places I travel to with things I paint and with paintings that got inspired by the place.

And that expo was just one opportunity. It turns out that traveling to and painting in Mexico has provided her with many career-boosting opportunities.

I’ve never have had so many opportunities honestly in my life as I do here. I’ve never had so much and so many different projects in one season and in one place ever before.

And that’s what really surprised me. It’s really good. It’s really inspiring. It’s motivating but also overwhelming. I already did a couple of interesting collaborations and I’m going to work more with local artists. 

I’m going to collaborate with different mural artists and also I’m doing murals myself, which is so uncommon to me. I’m collaborating with photographers and videographers.

So, I’m thinking about what would be the best options to pick because I don’t have that much time but I have so many opportunities. And I never had so many opportunities before in one place and in one season, so I’m really grateful for that. 

Some Final Takeaways…

To be sure, Esther has had a career that is nothing short of heroic. In the last several years, she has gone from never having traveled abroad to being an international traveler many times over. Along with her travels came a great deal of wisdom. Here are some final inspiring thoughts she’s gotten from her travels.

  1. The place where you are and the culture that you’re in affects your art and your daily schedule. For Esther, her painting routine changes depending on where she’s at in the world. Her work is affected by the colors in her surroundings, the architecture, the people and more. The lesson here is that it’s okay to let new experiences make your art new again.
  2. Travel can change your art process. Esther admits that the way she creates paintings has changed. Now, instead of creating her sources solely on Pixelmator, she does a lot more predatory sketches. She tries out new mediums. She works out compositional elements by hand. 
  3. Traveling and painting has allowed Esther to have many lives in this one life. There is a quote from Eastern Europe that goes something like this: The more places you have visited, the more opportunities you have had to become human. One of the reasons why Esther loves traveling so much is because it has given her so many opportunities to explore her humanity.

Looking For More Artistic Inspiration? If So, Read These Blog Posts...

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Milan Art Institute
Milan Art Institute

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