“When I start drawing an ordinary thing, I realize how extraordinary it is, sheer miracle. ”
– Frederick Franck
Having grown up under the creative eye of my father, a trained artist, and having taken painting lessons throughout my childhood, you might say art is in my blood. But it wasn’t until two and a half years ago that I finally discovered a way to marry my love for travel with my love for art: by completing on-location watercolor travel sketches.
Since my first sketching trip to Portugal in January 2011, I have now sketched my way through 15 countries, and my sketches have been featured on sites such as Gadling, The Huffington Post, Wanderlust, and in WildJunket digital magazine. And yet the biggest highlight and honor thus far was being featured in The New York Times this July.
I also recently released my first book of sketches, Beneath the Lantern’s Glow: Sketches and Stories from Southeast Asia and Japan. You can read more about the book here and, if you’re so inclined, order it on Amazon here. I also have a small line of sketching products (i.e. prints, greeting cards, etc.) available for purchase in my Etsy shop.
My sketching philosophy
An intrinsic quality of my travel sketches is that they are done on-location, as per the manifesto of Urban Sketchers (USK) – a nonprofit comprised of artists, illustrators and other creative types from over 30 countries whose mission is “to raise the artistic, storytelling and educational value of location drawing.” The first three points of the USK manifesto state:
- We draw on location, indoors or out, capturing what we see from direct observation.
- Our drawings tell the story of our surroundings, the places we live and where we travel.
- Our drawings are a record of time and place.
We live much of our lives today in a digital world, processing information – and places – second-hand through a myriad of screens. While I could merely search online for images of a certain city and sketch it from the comfort of my home, this would be missing the point – indeed, it would be missing the soul of the place, and for two reasons:
Connection – For me, sketching on location is all about connecting with a place. A crucial component of my sketching style is that I write annotations on each sketch, no more than three short sentences which convey details about what is going on around me: the sounds and smells, the snippets of conversations I happen to overhear.
Convergence – What I’ve come to love as much as the sketches themselves are the convergences that occur because of each sketch. Whether painting with a young boy on a sidewalk in Laos or befriending two college students in Vietnam who then invited me to draw with them, encounters continually unfold with people I would otherwise have never met had I not been sketching on location in their city.
My latest travel sketches
Here is a gallery of sketches from Beneath the Lantern’s Glow, which I hope will transport you to some of my favorite places in Southeast Asia and Japan:
How to start travel sketching
You can find a list of the sketching supplies that I use here. I’ve also written two articles for Matador about how to take your art on the road and what gear to use. Furthermore, if I happen to be passing through your hometown and you’d like to arrange a private lesson, please do not hesitate to get in touch – it’d be an honor to share my love for sketching with you!
Have an idea you’d like to discuss?
For a complete run-down of the various projects I’m available to work on, please visit my dedicated sketching website, Serendipity’s Sketchbook. I’m always happy to work on custom website headers, wedding invitations, commissioned sketches, etc. – anything, really, to help capture the world in a way that’s unique to you.