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These days when I go on vacation, I always take a sketchbook and a very small box of paints. At the very least, I try to do something small when I can steal the time.

I remember the first time I took a sketchbook and paints on a vacation. . . I was so timid I never took them out! The next time I painted in my room away from the eyes of onlookers.

Gradually as I gained confidence, I became a brave artist and painted outside. The more I did it, the less I worried about others and the more I wanted to record my adventures with my art.

sketchbook 2

I’ve found that keeping a sketchbook travel journal is a wonderful way to store memories even if you don’t actually paint much in them. A good substitute is taking a photo, noting the number of the photo, and then making notes in the sketchbook for a future painting.

I will often note colors and impressions, details and even feelings to evoke memories back at the studio. That way when I go to paint it the scene comes to life again.

If you get a chance, though, you can paint a small scenes in your sketchbook, too. A sketchbook journal is the perfect size to do quick studies. Many of my sketchbook paintings are unfinished because I had to move on. I find that some of those unfinished sketches are favorites of mine. . . I’m not sure why, but I try to remind myself it’s not always about finishing. Sometimes it’s just about starting, isn’t it?

sketchbook 3

My sketchbook journals are usually a mix of written notes (something for each day of my travels) along with small watercolor sketches.

When I go back through them it is much more than a photo album—it is a record of my experience in the “here and now” of “then and there” if that makes sense.

I have some other sketchbooks that aren’t for traveling, but are just for everyday journeling. I don’t actually write every day, nor do I sketch daily. I just like to have them as a way to observe and then reflect on some of the important (and not so important things) that interest me artistically.

sketchbook 1

I try not to be too serious about them. They’re for my eyes only, after all, so I can have fun and just play in them.

Recently I was rereading The Pastelist’s Year by Elizabeth Mowry. She writes about keeping a journal to record her impressions of nature during her walks each day.

I thought that was a good idea, and I will probably start to do that as well. It gives me a third reason to have a sketchbook journal, beyond just travel and working out compositions and things.

As you can see, there are many ways to keep a sketchbook journal and just as many reasons why you might want to do so. For me, the value grows with each journal I fill. . . besides which, they’re just fun!

For more from Michelle, please visit michellemorrisart.blogspot.com.

*Note: this post may contain affiliate links*

If your goal is to raise an artistic child, you must take part in showing your child how to "see" like an artist. This doesn't happen on it's own. . . but with your help, your child will learn to be aware of what is around them, and to understand what it is they are seeing.

You'll find that all children except for colorblind children understand the concept of color. . . but. . . read more

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