“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”   Marcel Proust

I spent the last two weeks traveling through Bavaria and extended days in Budapest and Prague. It was quite a trip.

This has been the first time that I have committed to using a sketchbook as I traveled. I made a personal commitment to record each day. We were traveling with another couple and we had a full schedule. Between the tours, exploring on our own, and wonderful meals when would I find time for my sketchbook?

I packed a sketching kit that included a drawing pencil, kneaded eraser, micron pens, watercolor pencils, a couple of small brushes, glue stick and scissors. This all fit into a ziplock bag. I prepped each of my sketchbook pages with the date, a spot to record the weather condition for the day. My sketchbook preparation also included decorative or painted designs along the edge(s) of the sketchbook page. It was a great way to use some of my old paintings, collected papers and other ephemeral objects from my days of doing altered books. With this preparation of a selection of materials and a start to each page I was hoping time for drawing would be easy, and it was!

As I walked through the day I noticed that I used my eyes for not only soaking in the vistas but also looking for small details that could be sketched. The decorative manhole cover in a plaza, the edge of an architectural detail, the curves in an illuminated letter from a medieval manuscript, the hat of a Bavarian woman all became the drawings of the day.

When I was rushed I added map sections, tickets and souvenirs. I filled some of the white space by writing commentary about how I felt, thought about, the smells and thoughts about places. My comments were short as I wanted to focus on visual thoughts not narrative text. Using my sketchbook I found myself free from needing to create something to be hung on a wall, I could geek out and experiment.

As I drew each day I appreciated what Marcel Proust wrote, “discovering with new eyes.” I saw the places we traveled as a tourist and then with new eyes as a chronicler for the sketchbook.

I found these great websites with travel sketchbooks from other artists. They provide a lot of inspiration to see each day as a travel adventure. I do not need to seek new landscapes far away from my home!

Cathy Johnson (

Lapin (

Bryce Wymer (

Pete Scully (