Five Ways Travels can Enrich Your Art

As I plan a trip for the summer, I want to remind myself, that even on "vacation,"my artist /maker mind is not vacant! In fact, what an artist date, extended and intensive. We all know that, but here are my tips for making travel especially productive and mind-feeding. Let me know any other travel habits you have that awaken, energize and contribute to your artistic vision, tools and skills.

1. As a surface designer and art quilt maker, I don't take along too many tools of my trade, but I DO take the  makings for a travel journal that I add to along the way. My essentials: small format sketchbook (small enough and light enough to carry with), watercolor pad and brush, black ink pens, glue stick, scissors (packed in the luggage so I don't get them confiscated).

2. Take photos (and edit as I go, this is from past experience). Use them for inspiration, printing on fabric, motifs and designs to turn into thermofaxes and stamps back home. I usually don't post until I get home and have time to mull over the best images to share. Usually sorted by Sensory Alphabet theme. I try to take not just the long shots, but lots of details. Usually pick a theme or topic to shoot consistently (I have an amazing collection of manhole covers and street paving stones.) I think I'll look for shell design elements this trip.

3. Museums, museums, museums. Duh. Also historical sites, gardens, etc. I do occasionally (where legal) snip and press leaves from what are exotic trees for me,  to use for screens and thermofaxes back home.

4. Dollar stores, Euro Stores (or whatever the local currency equivalent) for a different set of (usually Chinese-made) stuff that can become stamps, stencils and texture tools. OK, this is sometimes a silly use of luggage space, but I am willing to take old undies and even slacks that I will leave behind in order to take home some weird, wonderful find. Oh yes, cheater readers in the fashion of the place. You gotta see, right?

5. Maps, brochures, ephemera. Also go into the travel journal. Also rich mining for future work. And helps the memory when others travel to the same destination. A network of traveling artists is a wonderful thing to have!