Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Road Trip Sketches

When I taught my Maine workshop a few weeks ago, I had to do all the driving to Maine and back - 16 hours each way. I generally don't enjoy driving on a long trip. It's boring, exhausting, and sometimes frustrating, like the time I blindly followed my GPS into a traffic jam in the Bronx! But when we go on our annual beach vacation to North Carolina each summer, I get to sit back and relax in the co-pilot's seat, because my generous husband does all the driving. I read magazines, watch the passing scenery, drink coffee, talk to my mom in the back seat, and sketch.

Yes, I sketch in the car. While it's going down the road at 70 mph! It isn't always easy, but it's a great way to pass the time, especially on a long trip like our annual pilgrimage to the beach. It takes eleven hours to drive from our home in western Pennsylvania to the beach at Oak Island, North Carolina, where we've been going for years. That's a lot of time to fill, so this year I did a sketch every hour on the hour as we traveled along...

5-1/2" x 8-1/2". ink & watercolor in a Stillman & Birn Alpha series sketchbook

As you can see, I was very excited about the price of gas in Virginia. (Back home it was $2.45/gal.!)


This isn't great art, but that doesn't really matter, does it? It's just fun to be doing something during those long, seemingly endless hours. It makes the time pass quickly, and it's fun trying to think of different things to draw (like M&Ms!)


I used the simplest of supplies for these sketches...


...just a pencil, eraser, pen, water brush, and tiny toy watercolor set. This one was given to me by one of the students in my Maine workshop.  (Thanks again, Gretchen!) I found them on Wet Paint's website here.


This is a party favor type of watercolor set, so the paints it comes with are not the greatest, but I decided to use them for these trip sketches just so I could try them out.

I found them to be a little gritty, and they probably aren't lightfast, but the colors were fairly rich, and I enjoyed using them. I thought I wouldn't like the small size of the palette, since I usually like a generous mixing area, but when I wanted to switch colors, I just wiped the mixing area clean with a tissue, so it wasn't a problem at all.

This little baby-size palette was a lot of fun, and I quickly got used to its small size. It was handy to be able to just hold it in the palm of my hand to paint, and it easily fits in a pocket of my purse.

Today, back home, I cleaned out the original paints...


and replaced them with artists' quality watercolors.


I created three additional wells by using a hot glue gun to build a "dam" in the gap that originally held a tiny paint brush.


Here are the new colors I decided to try in the palette:

DS=Daniel Smith, AJ=American Journey (Cheap Joe's), HWC=Holbein Watercolors, WN=Winsor & Newton

It might be nice to have several of these little sets, each with a different selection of colors. I think I might just need to send in an order to Wet Paint sometime soon!


14 comments:

  1. I love Oak Island! We took our kids there for many years, but I have to say Southport is my favorite place! Sitting in a swing at the park, watching the barges come through. Wonderful place :)

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    1. I love Southport, too. Such a cute little town. It seems to have everything, including an art museum!

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    2. Yes! Thank you for sharing your travel sketches! They made for a nice little mental getaway for me. :)

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  2. Thanks for the reminder that keeping a travel journal can be fun. You captured so many little elements that make a journey interesting but that can slip by and be forgotten. Great idea for the small palette.

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  3. Fun sketches, Leslie. I'll have to try this next time we make our 11-hour trip from Ohio to South Carolina. I'm making a small palette out of a vintage child's watercolor tin I found on eBay that would be perfect for this sort of portable sketching.

    We always marvel at the sharply dropping gas prices the farther south we get. We'll miss the fresh peaches this year, as we won't be going down until fall.

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    1. It's funny that I ended up with three sketches about gas prices. Silly me! But really, it's amazing how much lower the prices are in VA!

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  4. So happy that you are having fun with the little watercolor box; isn't it amazing how quickly you become adept as using it? I traded out my quinacridone gold for gamboge but am thinking that i just might go back to plain old yellow ochre but other than that our color choices are quite similar. Your NC sketches are wonderful and filled with joy! xoxo, gretchen

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    1. I kind of miss yellow ochre - I'm so used to using it in every painting I do. I might have to stick it in there eventually in place of something else. Thanks again for the palette, my friend!

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  5. How fun! I love the bright, loose simple style. Trying to do one on our trip from NC to FL but I couldn't manage every hour-you are very disciplined! Hope it was a lovely vacation! And love the little palette. I have one as well but hadn't thought to refill it with quality paints for my purse. No excuse not to carry it now😊Love seeing your posts-I'm amazed that you get do much fine and still have a full travel schedule!

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    1. Hi Wendy -
      Sketching in the car really does make the time fly, doesn't it? I'm glad you gave it a go. Sometimes that's the only sketches I manage on a trip. Like this beach vacation - most of my time was spent doing family things and playing with the grandkids. And that's okay. There's a time for everything.

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  6. Just back from Oakland Island...fabulous visit!

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  7. Just back from Oak Island...fabulous place!!! Did you visit Southport as well? Also wonderful.....

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  8. Fun sketches done during your ride. I'm usually the one doing all the driving so I don't get to sketch. I like the tiny set and like you would change out the paint. Sets like that are great to have in the car, in your purse, in your beach bag so you're never without color.

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    1. I just ordered some more, so I can share them with my students and have a few extras. I was surprised how easily I adapted to the small size.

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