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Hood Canal Bridge sketch by Maria Coryell-Martin.

Road Trip Sketching Tips

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Art Toolkit Team

Inspiration | September 19, 2022

Car trips can be a fantastic way to capture the world and the feel of moving through it, and an Art Toolkit can help make it simple. Here are some tips to make your next road trip sketch-worthy!

Road trip view from car sketch by Maria Coryell-Martin.
Waiting in the ferry line sketch by Maria Coryell-Martin
  1. Pack ahead! If you know the color palette of the lands you are traveling through, swap out your standard colors for ones you know will fit the landscape.⁠ Consider packing a limited Demi Palette or a Pocket Palette with Mixing Pans for extra color experimentation and workspace.
  2. Keep it simple; pack only a few favorites and keep your expectations low. You don’t need to create a masterpiece simply because you’re on an incredible trip! The act of making can add to the experience; remind yourself, “practice not perfection.”⁠
Road trip view from car sketch by Maria Coryell-Martin.
Sketch from the passenger seat by Maria Coryell-Martin
  1. Use a Water Brush! They’re so immediate and handy and mean less chance of spilling water all over your work.⁠
  2. If you feel overwhelmed by your environment, try making dots that reflect the colors you see out the window. Then give them names that remind you of where you were, like Royal City Golden Wheat or Columbia River Green.⁠
Road trip color palette by Maria Coryell-Martin.
Place-based color dots

We asked you for your road trip sketching tips and received some wonderful ones on Instagram!

I bring a little beanbag-backed lap desk. It makes it so much easier! I also throw a little non-skid pad on top to keep things from sliding around on those sharp turns.

Instagram avatar for Jen Theisen

Jen (@wandering.pine.art)

I’m using a little 2" x 2" sketchbook to draw our trip as we drive to the Rockies! The tiny size keeps the sketches manageable and I can draw as we drive. I’m using a fairly thick fude pen to concentrate on the main shapes as I draw so I don’t get too caught up in the detail.

Instagram avatar for Andrea England

Andrea (@andreaenglandart)

Keep a separate (tiny) book for using while traveling. This way it doesn’t have to feel as precious as your regular journal, and it can always be ready in the car.

Instagram avatar for katy/katrinkles

Katy (@katrinkles_knitting_jewelry)

Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us. Happy travels, happy sketching!