Welcome! My name is Candace and I’m a writer, sketch artist,
and illustrator with a passion for connection. I’m glad you’re here.
Six years ago, I made a decision that would forever change me as a traveler:
I brought a sketchbook with me.
Although I grew up in a creative family, I never went to art school, and I hadn’t picked up a paintbrush in over ten years. Still, I wanted to see if I could revive my childhood love for art—specifically to help me better record and remember my travels.
Because of my own journey as a self-taught artist, this is what I now believe:
Everyone can connect with the world through art.
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I’m originally from the state of Virginia, on the East Coast of the U.S. Although I didn’t travel outside the country while I was growing up, something in me still knew it wanted more—that little twitch they call wanderlust. At last, after graduating from college with a degree in English literature, I started traveling and living abroad in 2008, working as I went to support myself.
During my first years on the road, I was content to move through places swiftly, simply grateful for the chance to be exploring the world and snapping as many photos as my camera could hold. But at the beginning of 2011, I hit a wall in my journey.
I didn’t know how to slow down and be more present as a traveler.
I longed to leave a new place with stronger memories and vivid sensory details.
Most importantly, I struggled to connect with the people in each place.
It was like the world was a river swimming with minnows, and I was standing helplessly in the middle of it, unable to catch a single minnow that darted past me. I wanted to start catching the minnows—i.e. those small, fleeting connections that make a journey, which are so often the moments we most want to hold onto.
And that’s when I got the idea to start sketching again.
In January of 2011, I was living in London and studying towards a Masters in Travel Writing. On a whim, I booked a solo weekend trip to Porto, Portugal; on an even bigger whim, I decided to bring a sketchbook and set of 12 watercolor pencils with me. And it was there, on the edge of Porto’s Douro River, that I completed my first on-location travel sketch.
I immediately loved sketching for the way it slowed me down and helped me be more mindful. The second thing I noticed was how sketching makes your whole body pay attention—it brings every one of your senses to life. After years of traveling with my Canon SLR, it was my turn to be the camera. As though my eyes were the aperture and my mind a square of film to be exposed, I was absorbing each place more deeply than I ever had before.
Finally, I was living in the here and now.
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About The Great Affair
When I started sketching in 2011, I was focused on pursuing travel writing as a profession—never could I have imagined becoming a professional sketch artist, too.
But in 2012, I shared my first travel sketches online, and in 2013, I received my first commissions and began my journey as an illustrator. Best of all, I started having my sketches published with my writing. As a writer and artist, it’s an incredible gift to now share stories about the world through both words and watercolors.
Here are a few of the places my stories and sketches have appeared:
And as an illustrator, I’ve had the honor of working with the following clients:
But no matter the project or publication, my heart will always reside here at The Great Affair, the travel blog I started at the very beginning of my journey in 2008. As I’ve grown through the years—from a 20-something backpacker into a 30-year-old creative professional—I’ve loved helping this website evolve with me.
Here are three areas that might be of particular interest to you:
Blog — This is where I share my latest stories, sketches, and personal moments of connection with the world.
Resources — Visit this page for in-depth info and links on how to create a life of travel, how to get started in travel writing, and how to start travel sketching.
Portfolio — This site is also the online home of my illustration portfolio, so if you’d like to see examples of my professional work, please take a look here. I specialize in creating illustrated book covers, interior book illustrations, and illustrated maps.
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How you can start connecting with the world through art
Whenever people approach me while I’m sketching on location, the first thing they often say is, “I wish I could draw like that.”
Every time, I always reply with the same two words:
For me, the greatest teacher has been practice. But practice isn’t about getting it perfect—it’s simply about progressing.
You can begin by downloading my free ebook, Travel Sketching 101, which outlines my own sketching process step by step, my suggested list of sketching supplies, and the rewards of sketching—of which I believe there are many.
For me, sketching is about so much more than the final artwork. Sketching is about the experience—not the finished product.
Sketching is also a way of catching our experiences in the world. Now when I stand in the river of minnows that is the world, I feel more prepared. With my sketchbook as my net, I love being able to catch life’s little moments as they pass me by. Maybe it’s by spending a couple of hours on a sketch, or maybe just by pasting a few pieces of travel memorabilia in my journal, be it a bus ticket, business card, or wine label—for me, these simple pieces of paper represent real, tangible memories.
Most importantly, I believe sketching does more than help us remember places—it opens doors and creates connections.
I could write all day in my journal and no one would stop to watch or ask me what I was doing. It’s different when I have my sketchbook out. There’s just something about art that encourages people to approach you, to peer over your shoulder, to look up at the subject you’re sketching and then back at your drawing to compare likenesses.
I’ve been invited into family homes in Bosnia, danced with union workers in a Dublin pub, and befriended young monks in Cambodia, simply because I happened to be sketching on location. These serendipitous encounters—and the global connections they engender—are now the very reason I travel.
I believe sketching can help you make deeper connections with the world, too.
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How we can connect
I’m here to help you start connecting with the world through art.
Newsletter: Sign up here (you’ll receive your free copy of Travel Sketching 101, as well as weekly updates)
Facebook: The Great Affair Facebook page
Thank you for reading! I look forward to connecting with you soon.
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