6 Step Whimsical Travel Sketching

I’ve been trying to get in as much travel sketching as possible lately. You could probably say it’s my current obsession.

For fun, I laid out the steps I take to get to my finished product. Not quite James Gurney levels of professionalism, but here’s my own whimsical approach.

Step #1:

Find an appealing subject of your choice that you think you can stand drawing/painting for the next few hours. I chose a cluster of buildings in Hastings including one of my favourite take aways.

Soul Food and accompanying buildings.

Step #2:

Ink it out! I like to use Staedtler (sizes 0.1, 0.5, and 0.05) because they don’t bleed (even using watercolours over them), stay very black, and the nibs don’t break easy if you have a firm grip so no leaking later on.

All in ink.

Step #3:

Paint it in! I like to use Fabel-Castell watercolour pencils because they’re easy to carry, versatile, blend well, and retain vivid colours upon drying. Also can’t live without my portable paintbrushes by Derwent which let you load water in the handle so you don’t need a water pot.

Added paint, though not quite finished with that sky yet…

Step #4:

Admire your work against the scene you’ve been working with. Feel good about yourself – you’ve probably spent a few hours sitting near motionless getting baked by the sun, blown by galelike wind, or freezing your fingers numb. A high five is in order.

Painting on location. Stayed so long, Soul Food had closed and the shadows were decidedly longer than when I started out.

Step #5:

Go treat yourself to some tea or sweets at a café to warm up and revitalize while looking over your piece to see if anything needs final touches. I went with a personal brew of herbal tea as I lost all feeling in my fingers from the seafront wind – and a gingerbread cheesecake just for good measure.

Love my Hanushka Coffee House.

Step #6:

Step 6: Final touches. Take a step back and be proud of your plein air creation!

All done! Moodier sky and darker shadowing to make the buildings pop.

If you have any tips on how you do travel sketching or plein air painting, I’d love to hear how you get in your personal groove!

9 thoughts on “6 Step Whimsical Travel Sketching

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