anna brones

writer + artist + producer

Armchair Travel Sketchbook

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“Art is the only way to run away without leaving home.”

– Twyla Tharp

What does travel do for us? We travel for many reasons. Sometimes it’s to new places for unexpected experiences. Sometimes it’s to well-known places that feed our soul, places that provide a sense of calm and grounding. Sometimes it’s simply because we need a reset.

Today is for conjuring up a little bit of the magic of travel without going anywhere. We’re going to do a bit of armchair travel journaling. A dose of travel without leaving home.

Supplies:

  • Pen or pencil
  • Paper or notebook

Optional:

  • Watercolors, markers, etc.
  • Reference photos or an old travel sketchbook

When I travel, I am not always great at keeping a travel journal or sketchbook, but when I do, I always love looking back on them. I think the main draw of a travel sketchbook is that when you come across a sketch from one of your travels, you always think “oh, I remember that day.” Yet in the moment, when you’re hesitating to put pen to paper, it’s so easy to think to yourself, “I can’t draw that.”

But no matter how quick or messy a travel sketch is, when I have looked back at them later, I have never once thought “that’s terrible.” Instead, those sketches evoke feelings and memories. They capture not just places but moments in time. They hold smells and sounds and textures.

Today we will focus on exactly that, and it doesn’t matter what the end result is. It’s the practice of taking yourself somewhere else through art.

There are two ways to go about this prompt, pick whichever one works for you.

Prompt #1: A meditation on place

In this prompt, you are going to pretend that you are in a place that you want to go to. Ideally it’s a place that you have already been to and love, because you are going to work on mentally putting yourself in that place.

Close your eyes for a moment and envision that place. Where are you sitting? What are you looking at? What temperature is it? What do you hear? What do you smell?

When you open your eyes, write a short travel journal entry, as if you were in that place. I think it’s helpful to choose a time of day for this journal entry, which will of course help to guide you with what activities you would be doing in that moment. It can also be helpful to make a little bullet list of all the elements your senses are picking up on.

Once you have done a little writing about where you are, what you are seeing, and what you are feeling, add some drawings. I think it’s helpful to focus on a few objects that help to capture the feeling of a place. So let’s say you put yourself on a beautiful beach somewhere tropical; focus less on capturing the entirety of the beach and everything that’s on it, and focus instead on a handful of individual elements that feel true to the scene. The blue of the water, a towel, a shell on the sand.

I found that after doing this exercise, it was clear from what I had written and drawn that I was craving certain things. Things that could be found in that place, but also things that I could do for myself here at home. So maybe doing this exercise will allow for a little introspection on where you are emotionally and what you’re craving right now.

Prompt #2: Take inspiration from a favorite travel photo

It’s always fun to go back through photos of where we have been before. Find a photo from a trip that you loved and use that as your reference photo.

You can choose to write about that moment, or draw it, or both.

When drawing, same thing here as above: challenge yourself to focus on a few different elements that you really want to highlight. Or maybe you want to let loose a bit and make a blind contour drawing based on your reference photo.

Whatever prompt you do (or maybe you do both!) I hope you enjoy a little armchair travel. As Twyla Tharp says, run away, even if it’s only for a little bit.

This was a prompt featured in Creative Fuel Challenge, a semi-regular newsletter with creative prompts. I usually send it out twice a week, and it’s intended to inspire a little but of extra time for creativity in your day. Sign up here.

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Written by Anna Brones

July 13, 2020 at 10:48

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