So where do you begin travel sketching? Let’s start with a few tips I have found along the way.
Have a focal point. What is it about the scene before you that makes you want to sketch it? I learned that I had a weakness in wanting to try and capture some grand, expansive, breathtaking vista on a small sketchpad. Often the results would be disappointing. There would be lines and color but the eye had no idea where it was supposed to go; nothing about the sketch stood out.
When travel sketching we are capturing the experience as much or more than we are creating a work of art, so it is important to find some key object that puts the whole drawing into perspective. This can simplify the whole process as you add detail to the building, the tree, the vase, the glass, etc. Then the rest of the painting can be less precise, this actually makes the object that made you want to paint in the first place stand out clearly.
In this sketch it is all about the barn, the rest is given just enough attention to give the barn context.
When painting a grand vista, use something in the foreground to put it all in perspective.
Notice how in this sketch the detail of the umbrella, the railing, and the foreground trees create the idea of distance for the hills and Mt. Hood in the distance. Things that are far away will of course be less detailed and less intense in color. A whole sketch of just that would be bland, but the details in the foreground make the distant hills look just right; they actually enhance the feeling of distance and expanse.
You don’t have to sketch it all or fill the page. You are capturing a moment, and that moment may be summed up in rather briefly. This painting focuses on a portion of a fence, and some sunflowers, but it reminds me of a wonderful day sipping wine at Truitt-Hurst winery in Sonoma.