Sketching on Vacation

My friends and I went on holiday to Mexico from May 28th to June 3rd—we call it a friendscation. It was a welcome respite from work work work... and I was super stoked to travel somewhere I'd never been before. I've an inclination for history, museums, archaeology, sightseeing, etc, but this trip was more of a resort-y type of vacation. Going to the beach, drinking at the pool bar, soaking up the sun. Hey, I like that sort of thing too.

I brought a sketchbook to the beach a few times. I drew whatever looked interesting—the resort, the man selling cigars, seagulls, palm trees, volleyball players, sunbathers. A lot of my sketches were absolutely terrible, but some of them turned out quite alright. That's what a sketchbook is for, right?

Tips for Sketching on the Go

  • Always have your sketchbook and a pencil with you. A sharpener and eraser may come in handy as well. I bought a relatively inexpensive Pentalic sketchbook that I wouldn't fuss over if it got ruined. I like using a Prismacolor Turquoise pencil in 4B, which gives me rich, dark marks, but I might bring a 2B or HB along as well. Having your tools with you means you'll always be ready when creativity strikes.

  • Pack light. That's the beauty of pencil and paper. You really don't need much, so there's no excuse not to bring it! I think my sketchbook is roughly 5 x 7" and fits easily into my knapsack.

  • Draw live subjects quickly. I like guessing how long live subjects will stay in one position. At the beach, I would spend about five to ten minutes on sleeping/sunbathing people, and quickly make some rudimentary marks in a few seconds for people playing volleyball. This is a great way to practice gestural figure drawing.

  • It's okay to feel self conscious. I felt a lot of pressure to make really good sketches at first, because I thought people would want to look over my shoulder to see what I was up to. And they did. But I found that people are generally supportive, even when I feel like my sketches suck.

  • If you mess up, just turn to a new page. If you're like me, you want to make every page absolutely perfect. It's taken a lot of years and a lot of abandoned sketchbooks for me to realize that that's never going to happen. Nowadays, I start sketchbooks in the middle, and I turn to a random page whenever I pick it up to sketch. If I mess up when I'm on the go, I turn to a new page. When you're out and about and there's limited time and opportunity to sketch live subjects and scenes, you've just got to move on!

sketching on the go vacation sketchbook