Thursday, February 17, 2011

Watercolor Journeys - Book Review

For my first art book this year, I chose Watercolor Journeys, Create Your own travel sketchbook by Richard Schilling.   I had a dream of making a gorgeous travel sketchbook from our trip to California.  So, I packed this book along with my watercolor pencils, my brush, and my brand new sketchbook.  I was so ready.

Except I wasn't.   I read Watercolor Journeys every day and enjoyed looking at all of the gorgeous artwork, but couldn't make myself start on my journal. I was afraid I might I made a mess.  After all, it's not like a Zentangle tile that you can just toss if you don't like it.  These pages are stitched together and I can't just tear one out without ruining the book.  I will admit it: I am a perfectionist.

The wonderful thing is, the more I read, the more I gathered up the courage to give it an attempt. If I had to sum up this book in one word, it would be INSPIRING. Here is my favorite quote:
"A sketch should capture the overall impression of a subject - there is no time for accuracy. Your painting is an artistic interpretation, and not an architectural rendering. Pictures, like the spoken word, are often more effective when condensed to their essential elements."
With words like that, Dr. Schilling give you permission to make your travel journal truly yours.  His artwork is beautiful, but he makes it sound so easy and is so encouraging, that I finally gave it a try.

I chose something simple, but that reminded me of our trip.  These bird of paradise were in bloom right in front of our hotel lobby.  And also everywhere else we went in California.  How appropriate for our week of paradise in the midst of a long, bleak, gray winter.

Watercolor Journeys is filled with a multitude of practical and useful tips that you don't need a degree in art to understand.  His tips on creating depth  and rules for reflected images are easy to understand and are exactly what is needed to make your sketches come alive.  He has just the right mix of practical tips and examples from his multitude of travel sketchbooks.  The man knows of what he speaks.

In addition to art instruction, Dr. Schilling gives advice on other aspects of travel journaling. He gives tips on everything from choosing the right journal, to finding the best place to sketch, to being safe while traveling, to what do do if it starts to rain.  If you want to keep a travel sketchbook or just want to learn more about the world, this is the book for you.


  1. It is such a small world! I was at a gallery last Friday night, taking in all the beautiful work of Richard Shilling. He lives in my home town of Loveland, CO. His grandkids played with my kids when they were in grade school, and lived around the corner from us. I used to sketch (many moons ago) but never tried watercolor or a journal. Your's are lovely, and what a great way to record a trip! Keep it up because it will be a wonderful thing to look back on years from now for all the memories!

  2. Oh, wow. It is a small world. I wish I could have gone to the gallery with you. Thanks for the encouragement.


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