As much as we might wish, not all holidays we venture on can be the idyllic, tourist-free, art safari holidays we dream of in our heads. Fortunately, it’s really not that difficult to indulge in a little bit of what you love, no matter where you are, or how many sombreros might have followed you out of the airport.
Here are my top tips for being a travelling artist, and at the end of this blog I’ll be adding a list of the supplies I carry with me.
Tell your other half
Maybe not applicable if you’re single, or if your confident enough to holiday alone, but if you want to have some time to sketch, paint or just think, you’d better let your other half know beforehand. In fact, if you’re travelling with a group, best you speak up early before you get dragged to every museum, cafe and metro stop within 50 miles and have not time to even take a toilet break.
Go to museums, galleries, etc
So, I’m not saying don’t go to any museums, in fact, they’re a must. Whether it’s a glorious art gallery like the Reina Sofia or Prado in Madrid, or just a local little gallery, or a museum of whatever takes your fancy. Make time for inspiration.
Scraps of paper, notebooks and a decent pen and pencil. Don’t get caught unawares trying to scribble the next Odyssey onto a soggy bar napkin with your eyeliner.
Wake up early
Sunrise is usually beautiful abroad, not just because sunrise is gorgeous anyway but because most tourists are still asleep (except my husband). Get out at the crack of dawn and have your half hour of tranquility before the world wakes up and you can’t move for socks and sandals.
Discover unique places
When I visited Rome a couple of years ago, of course I enjoyed the Colosseum (queues) and the Vatican (queues) and the Forum (not so many queues), but the place we really enjoyed was an old part of town across the river called the Trastevere, full of vintage shops, an old market, tiny bookshops and leather goods stores. This place was busy, yet quiet at the same time, and was fairly free from the usual rabble. A good place to discover some unique souvenirs and to really get into the local scene. One of my other favourite places has to be the Mercado San Miguel in Madrid, Spain. For all its crowds, one feels at home with the locals, eating while standing, enjoying the architecture and planning the next escape.
Go to green spaces
I’m quite a lazy traveller. I enjoy nothing more than sitting in a cafeteria at the edge of a square with a drink and a slice of cake watching the world go by. This is even better if you can do it in a green area, a park, a little garden, perhaps even just by a fountain so you can enjoy the sound of rushing water. Don’t forget your sketchbook and camera though.
Take the right tools
There’s nothing worse than finally setting down to work on a sketch, drawing or painting abroad to realise you don’t have the right colour, you’ve forgotten an eraser or you simply don’t have everything you need. While Google Maps might help you locate the nearest art supply shop, you might not find your familiar brands and products, and by the time you’ve bought them, it’s time to move on and your moment of creativity might be lost. Don’t underestimate being prepared.
Following up from the point above, it’s important to make sure you’re prepared for your trip, baggage wise. It’s usually wise to travel light, and don’t forget what can and can’t go in your hand luggage! Below you’ll find my list of supplies that accompany me on my travels.
Travelling Art Supplies List
- Sketching pencils – don’t make the mistake of carrying just one.
- Writing pen – for those amazing, wonderful ideas or simply to take some notes or keep a journal
- Books that inspire – whether it’s an artist’s bio, a good novel or a book of art marketing, whatever works for you
- Watercolour paints – I carry a travel-sized set of pan watercolours, as carrying half a dozen tubes takes up a lot more space and can get messy
- Selection of paintbrushes – again, I recommend carrying more than you think you’ll need
- Kitchen roll or tissue paper – for wiping, blotting, cleaning brushes
- Art pad – my preference is a sketchbook type pad or watercolour paper, no bigger than A4 size
- Plastic water bottle – to carry paint water
- Another water bottle – for the thirsty artist
- A diary or journal – you can either write a full-on diary of your travels, or just take notes whenever inspiration hits
- A camera – I personally have a Canon PowerShot which takes stunning daytime shots and is small and portable without the need for a massive camera bag or expensive travel insurance
- A stylish or artsy tote bag – to carry all your supplies in
What’s on your travelling list? Let me know in the comments.
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