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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Travel Journal Tricks

I have been a road tripper since I first learned to drive.

I have been a travel journaler since I first began art journaling.

I do not have the discipline of someone like Kate who can sketch as she goes, but even if I did, that would not work so well on the long stretches of highway that try to bore you to death enroute from this place to that.

There are several of these stretches that I have traversed many, many times in my travels - like the one across the Panhandle of Texas, for instance. At first, you get off at a lot of exits to find interesting things - like old Cadillacs with their noses stuck into the ground, a 19 story tall cross and a leaning water tower that looks as f it is in mid-fall . But after that, what's left for next time?

So, I developed a plan - a challenge, really, to find the "essence" of this road by observing details. I make notes and quick sketches in a tiny Moleskine as I drive (I know, I know - worse than texting), take shots through the car window with my iPhone, and sometimes pull off at an exit to make visual notes of some architectural anomaly or change in landform.

Afterwards, I compile all this into a single spread that tells the "story" of that piece of road.

Scale is not important. Those ranch buildings in the Panhandle are few and far between - but they did seem to all fit just a handful of styles. Perhaps they all come from one ranch building prefab place.

The sky is only a pale blue and it is always windy. I got that effect by erasing wind spirals out of a Panpastel background.

The land is FLAT all the way until you get close to the Oklahoma border, and then some soft hills rise out of the flatness. On this particular Spring trip, the trees had not begun to bud out yet, and were black line drawings against the horizon.

All of that is in this one spread, and made this drive not quite so stultifying.

I have put many of my travel journaling tricks and tips in my Travel Journal Workshop, and I have just made it a WHENEVER workshop you can take whenever you want.

Details can be found here:

Posted by jessica


  1. I love this idea, except doing these things while driving (lol), and have a few stretches here that I might try it on. Love the wind.

  2. Great idea, Jessica. You are SO right. Sometimes it's really a challenge to find something interesting to write about or sketch. But making it a challenge can be a lotta fun.

  3. Wonderful points, Jessica, and you DID capture the essence! Love those wind swirls.

    Just to clarify, I don't really have discipline, just passion. Gotta do it, NOW. (Guess I don't have the discipline to wait! :-D )

  4. What I missed most about my recent car trip was I couldn't draw as I was driving!!! Your pages always fun to see.

  5. Jessica! I know exactly the route you are talking about! We used to drive from AZ to southwestern Ontario Canada every summer to visit our families. And the trip from NM to OK was very LONG!!!! I love your idea of trying to find something to document along the way. Of really looking to see what is around. Did you pass by "the thing" by any chance??? And the wind, oh my goodness, it never stops for there is nothing to stop it!!
    Great post!!!

  6. OH, Oh, Oh! I checked out your site Cre8ite.com :)
    I just LOVE that your travel journal workshop has MICHIGAN! on it!!!!! Of course I'm from Michigan and as your Journal entry was of the Texas Panhandle it caught my eye as I had just finished watching the Detroit Tigers smash the Texas Rangers!!!! I think I need to do a drawing of the Tigers ROArrrrrrrr! :)


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