I was an art teacher for 20 years, so I always considered summer as the time when I could “catch up” on my art making. I couldn’t wait for my schedule to be free so I could start drawing again. Now that I’m working full time as an artist, I draw with more frequency, but I’m still habituated to the arty pull of summer.
I like to record my travels as I am inspired by my surroundings. Sometimes these drawings are quick sketches, with impressions that are grabbed quickly to preserve a memory, color or thought.
The Colosseum, the coastline of Ancona, and an empty gelato cup from a trip to Italy in 2011 demonstrate on-the-fly sketches I might collect.
Other times, I rework or create new drawings or paintings back in the studio after collecting sketches and photos. These entries are more complete impressions of my surroundings where I incorporate objects, scenes, and details to capture what has seeped in during my visit. Like with the quick sketches, colors, objects, and landmarks dominate the work resulting in a portrait of the place I visited.
Top: My homage to Georgia O’Keefe after visiting her home and studio in Taos, New Mexico. Bottom: St. Francis and Ganesh were both images I encountered in the mountains of Santa Fe. I was there in 2013 while a large wildfire raged on the mountain.
I rarely leave the house without a means to record the world around me. I wrote a post about what to include in your portable studio, which you can see here. I find that having a sketchbook is a great alternative to staring at your screen in the airport or on long car rides. The drawings don’t have to be perfect, just a sincere effort at recording your impressions. You don’t have to travel far to find something to put in your sketchbook, either.
The perfect spot to draw. This small beach is just down the street from my house.
After all, as an artist, it is your duty to find the beauty in the seemingly mundane things around you, to find the extraordinary in the ordinary. I’ve drawn things ranging from other travelers to my kitchen serving bowls. I even spent one summer drawing the salt shakers in restaurants in which I was dining. You’d be surprised at the variety!
I hope you are inspired in your own way to record a memory this summer. Happy art, everybody!