In the last few years, I have made a point to pack my travel journal and watercolors on our trips, and this practice has helped me hone in on how best to teach my travel journaling classes. I have fine-tuned a process that works well for me and thought I'd take a moment to share it. Here are my steps...
1. I want to be fully present in the moments with my family, so I don't typically paint en plein air, though it is really fun when I get the opportunity. I take photos with paintings in mind and then find time later to paint in my sketchbook using my reference photos. I'm an early riser, so often I will paint before anyone else has rolled out of bed.
2. I sketch my drawing into the journal, thinking about what to include, what to edit out, how to layout the page if I want to include a label or a whole paragraph, and where I want the edges. Sometimes I paint to the edge of the paper, sometimes I tape off the edges for a crisp frame or loosely draw in a frame, and sometimes I keep them loose.
3. I then decide if I'm going to outline everything in a micron pen for a more illustrator style or if I'm going to just paint.
4. When the sketch is satisfactory, I start painting. Getting the sketch right, with all the proportions and angles, is important so it doesn't look weird at the end. It's easier to erase pencil than watercolor! Watercolor is done in layers, so having a hair dryer or craft heat gun is handy to speed up the drying process between layers.
5. The final step is to add the writing. I often just label and date the page, but many people treat it more as a journal, including weather, people, and descriptions.
Here is my most recent sketchbook of a quick trip to Colorado for a family reunion. I included the reference photos so you can see how I edited colors and removed people/objects that I didn't want to include. I was able to complete a page a day, which made me very happy!
Jill Pearson, owner & instructor at Riverwood Studio, Oronoco, Minnesota