Sunday, April 24, 2016

What is Watercolor Journaling?

"Watercolor Journaling" is using watercolor sketches to tell a story either by themselves or in addition to written text.  It is my favorite way to capture my travel memories on the spot as they happen.  I have been doing this all over the world for 16 years.

Sitting in a shady spot sketching in my journal I notice the details; the thickness of the stone walls around a doorway, the small statue of the Virgin Mary carved into a tiny alcove on the side of a wall, and the worn surface of the cobblestones in the street.  

I hear conversations in a foreign tongue I do not understand but the tone of the voices sound happy and the people smile as they walk by me.  Sometimes they stop and look at my sketch and we communicate in a mashed up version of their language and mine with gestures and smiles thrown in.  In some countries, like Portugal, the locals speak English better than I do!

I even notice the odors; the scent of lavender blooming in the field behind me, the scent of garlic as someone prepares lunch, and the salty smell of the sea on the breeze.

I feel sorry for the packs of tourists that rush by snapping photos and selfies with no idea what they are really seeing.  Artists like me experience our surroundings and soak it all in.  We are not tourists.  We are participants.

Watercolor Journaling on the beach at Alvor, Portugal.
And here is my little watercolor sketch of that beach.

My Watercolor Journals are created with a watercolor field kit and permanent ink pens in a bound watercolor journal.   I create pages as I go.  Here are some examples of pages from my travel journals.  I hope they will inspire you to try this on your next trip.

Some pages are done on the fly,

Paris June 17, 2015 an afternoon hanging in the Marais neighborhood.

Some pages are finished paintings,

"Colorful Collioure"  France

Some pages have a story and a painting,

The window above where Van Gogh stood to paint "Cafe Terrace at Night"
on Place du Forum, Arles France

Some pages are carefully designed,

Lagos, Portugal the home town of Henry the Navigator  2016

Some pages are created as a "montage" of several images

"Gaudi Shapes" Barcelona, Spain, 2011

and sometimes I play with style to make a point.

Havana is falling down!  Cuba, 2014

OK, I hope you are inspired to try Watercolor Journaling on your next trip.  Or, join me on a Watercolor Journaling Workshop where I will teach my tricks and my tour guides will spoil you with a fabulous trip.

In a couple of weeks I am off to France to teach a workshop in Watercolor Journaling for French Escapade a small group tour company.  This workshop is full, but you can join me for a workshop I will be teaching October 6 - 12, 2016 in Italy on the shores of Lake Como for Tuscana Americana small group tour company.  For details about the Lake Como workshop check out  To learn about French Escapade's trips the website is

More images of my Travel Sketches and paintings are on my website