My sketchbooks are one of my most prized possessions.Simply because they are documentations of my imagination, thoughts and travel, and how it’s changed over my lifetime. I look back at a sketchbook from 15 years ago, and my mind can immediately shift back to the mindset I had at the age of 14 years old… or at least trigger memories of what that time was like; and boy how they have changed!
I believe that keeping a sketchbook is one of the most important methods to improving and growing your art and creative mind. Sketchbooks allow you to be free… and delve into your deepest imaginations. One of my favorite sketchbook exercises is to do blind contour sketches. Simply to sketch an object or person without looking at the paper, or lifting my pencil/pen. It improves hand eye coordination, and the result can be both therapeutic and often quite humorous.
(Click the link above for a great article on sketchbooks!)
Set your imagination free!
Take your lines for a walk. Long walks, short walks, it’s all the same fun.
Shadow Dancers prepping for Trick-or-Treaters…
After experiencing the magic of Sennelier upon my arrival in Paris, I took a walk along the infamous Seine. It was a gloomy autumn afternoon, yet the grey light continued to radiate off of the cream colored stuccos scattered throughout the city. A Parisian glow.
Continuing the great battle against jet lag, I stopped at a small cafe for a café au lait and some lunch. That’s when the never-ending consumption of bread, cheese, wine, and coffee began… and it didn’t stop for the next 7 days. It would’ve been unacceptable to do Paris any other way… right?
Freshly energized with some wonderfully brewed caffeine, I went back to wandering the streets of Paris in my favorite olive green cape coat, mapless. The thought of buying a map never really crossed my mind. I love the idea of finding your way through a new city by chance and stumbling upon things in an unexpected sense.
There I was, walking through Paris, a bit delirious, wondering how this could all be real. It was one of those moments you’ve dreamt about your whole life, and now that it was a reality… it was difficult to grasp. Paris was flooding my mind with dreams and inspirations.
Wandering through the city I had seen small glimpses of the Eiffel Tower, so I knew it’s general direction. However, I had lost track of it after lunch, so I was feeling a little disoriented (it was acting as my North Star). I continued down some narrow cafe lined streets, and all of a sudden there it was! The Eiffel Tower appeared magnificently between two rows of buildings.
I think I circled the Eiffel Tower twice, taking it all in. It was charming. I eventually climbed my way to the top to get a glimpse of the city from above. It was the perfect way to mentally map out where things were located for my next adventure…
Let me backtrack for a moment…
On my flight to Paris, I was far too excited to sleep. I tried, but I just couldn’t possibly shut my mind off. The plane section was only about half full. Lights off, apart from a few movies flashing by on passenger’s screens. The silence playing with the soft hum of the plane engines.
I was listening to my favorite playlist, specifically this song. I looked outside at the pitch black sky, and all of a sudden I saw the clearest, brightest, and largest Big Dipper I had ever seen. It was like we were floating through outer space just passing through a sea of stars, with the Big Dipper shining brightest. So I stared, with a perfectly accompanying song. The notes on the piano became the sounds of the stars…
Arriving in a city I’ve never been, language unknown; It’s an odd feeling. Somewhere between excited, adventurous, and lonely. I was exhausted and jet lagged having arrived in Paris at 7am from New York City, but I fought through it with wide-eyed excitement to finally have arrived in a city I’ve so longed to explore.
After settling into an artsy Parisian AirBnb loft, I quickly set out to explore the city until my friend, Charlotte, arrived late that evening. I’m not much of an itinerary type when it comes to travel, so I picked the first place I knew I had to see, and I’d let that lead me to something else once I found it.
My first stop couldn’t have been anything other than Sennelier; The infamous art shop on the Left Bank of the River Seine. Past frequents of the shop being Picasso and Cezanne.
Henri Sennelier created the first oil pastels intended for professional artists at the specific request of Picasso in 1948. So now you can see why I had to stop in and see this 127 year old shop… and perhaps find a few things to bring home with me!
After wandering through the city, and getting lost for an hour (I did not have a map, which was a wonderful thing), I finally stumbled upon the shop. The inviting green exterior of the storefront displayed elegant golden letters “SENNELIER” above it’s door. The shop and it’s surroundings were as charming as I had imagined… but the inside was beyond. I pushed the door open, history in mind, and slipped inside the small entrance to a warm wooden interior filled from floor to ceiling with all the colors you could ever imagine. It was quite busy at the time, two young students filling their art class supply list with the help of the staff, and an older man sorting through brushes to decide which he preferred.
Art shops are magical places. They, for one, are filled with the ingredients to visualize your greatest imaginations! I would much rather pour my money into art supplies than anything else… because if there’s something you can’t afford in the world, you can always draw it – it gives a sort of satisfaction! Secondly, art shops are filled with wonderful people. My mind always wonders what each customer is going home to create… it’s fun to dream up stories about people in art shops. My favorites are the older customers. I can only hope I’ll still be painting (and able to) when I reach an old age, because I can’t imagine doing anything else.
Paris, to be continued…
They say, “Travel is the only thing you can buy that makes you richer”, and I full heartedly believe that. Travel does something to you that no book or movie could truly let you feel. The scents of different cities, it’s one of the most wonderful things. Like the warm scents of fresh pastries and cafe au laits that fill the glowing streets of Paris on a Sunday morning. The scents of sea life accompanied by the sounds of rushed buyers in the Tokyo Tsukiji fish market, or the eerie silence just outside of Santa Fe, with an occasional howling from coyotes in the dark of the night…
Traveling inspires me. It’s inevitable. You place yourself in a new part of the world, and your mind opens up without the slightest effort. You see things you’ve only read about, dreamt about, heard about! It all becomes real before your eyes, and it’s difficult to describe what a sensation that is… it’s pure inspiration, pure magic.
I like to carry art supplies with me to capture my travels, and to quickly document new ideas and inspirations. I remember sitting in an apartment I rented with a friend in Paris, and looking out the window to see someone cleaning in the apartment across the way. They hung a colorful diamond patterned rug out of the window, and I just thought it was so strikingly beautiful against the pale stucco building. So I captured it in my sketchbook.
When I travel, I try my best to travel light. I like to be able to throw my painting supplies and sketchbook in my bag and not think twice about it. My absolute favorite travel accessory is my Escoda brush. It transforms from a small protective casing, to a full size brush. Take a look through my guide for the traveling artist here.
Get updates on all things Paper Fashion.