Sketching while you travel can be difficult and is usually not always convenient. Some of the biggest reasons not to draw while on a trip is often how much time you have at the location, weather, and even finding a secluded spot to feel relaxed while you draw. I want to share how I tackled all three of these while traveling to Banff this past June!
For my birthday my best friend surprised me with a trip to Banff! Now to say I was beyond excited and shocked was an understatement! She told me the morning before my birthday, and we were flying out that night to Calgary.
We rented a car and drove the gorgeous hour and a half to Banff. The mountains were still covered in snow (which is my favorite way to see a mountain!). The mountains were EVERYWHERE you looked! The first mountain I fell in love with was Mount Rundle. I've never seen a mountain so slanted; it almost seemed fake!
Finding a Secluded Spot - Now from this photo, it looks like it was easy to find this spot where no one was and at first, it was easy...for about ten minutes. Then a few cars pulled up, and I had to find a new spot. I walked a little way down the path and found some rocks to sit on. I find it extremely important to sit where no one is around, so you not only see the scene, but hear the wind moving the water back and forth, or birds singing. Using all of your senses to take in a place brings more life into your drawing and painting. Make it a priority to find a spot you won't feel stressed and can relax.
Our second day we drove up to Lake Louise and Lake Moraine, which both were frozen over just a few days ago!
Dealing with Weather -I recommend having a sketchbook that can hold up in rainy weather, which means having a hardcover and heavier weight paper. I was beyond excited to see the famous mountains surrounding Moraine Lake. When we arrived, it was slightly drizzling. Unfortunately, we tried to wait out the rain, but it didn't seem to let up, so I pulled out my sketchbook anyway. I have been using Moleskine sketchbooks https://us.moleskine.com/en/ for the past ten years and love the art hardcover sketchbook. The pages are slightly heavier and will hold watercolor and acrylic nicely. The pages ALSO do well in the rain, thank goodness! Don't let a little rain stop you from sketching, just be prepared!
Having Enough Time to Sketch - Deciding before you head to your location that you are going to sketch will allow you to already plan ahead and make it a priority. I even suggest deciding on a specific amount of time; it doesn't have to be an hour, maybe fifteen to twenty minutes. I usually will tell those I'm with how much time I need, which allows them to decide what they want to do. My friend loves taking photos so while I'm sketching she can go off and shot.
Besides being able to sketch in the most beautiful places, I'd ever been my other highlight from the trip was going to the Mountain Gallery in the Fairmount hotel in Banff https://www.mountaingalleries.com/ I went two days in a row because I loved the gallery so much! If you find yourself in Banff, I highly recommend going to see the beautiful artwork.
Once I got home, I was filled with such passion and excitement to paint these new places I'd seen! Not only did I have photos from each location, but I also had a sketch to help me remember, visualize, and feel the place. My favorite part of sketching in a location is the feelings I remember when I look back at the sketch.
Sketching while you travel is essential for your painting process later when you are back in the studio. Reference photos are helpful, but there is so much more to take in and draw when you are actually in the place.
Below are the final paintings I was able to work on in my studio the following week!
Have you been to Banff?! If so what was your favorite part?