Stephanie Bower

Stephanie Bower | Architectural Illustration: | Sketching Workshops: | Sketches: on Instagram at @stephanieabower & | Urban Sketchers Blog Correspondent | Signature member of the Northwest Watercolor Society

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

What I Learned about Sketching on a Trip to India, Part 1

Namaste. For 3.5 weeks in October/November, I visited India for a second time. The first trip was in 2011, and the sketchbooks I filled on that trip have sparked so many wonderful opportunities to travel and teach. My parents also lived here before I was born, so India holds a special place in my heart. There are so many utterly amazing sights and colors at every turn--all of life is here.

I set out to sketch my way across central and southern India... and wow, did I learn a lot, just not what I thought I would learn! The sketching did not turn out as I expected...and while very frustrating at the time, that in itself was a good learning experience. That frustration has helped me to figure out what works for me and what doesn't. 

I posted ALL 50 sketches in order on Instagram  @stephanieabower and photos at @stephanieabower.fotos, including lots of sketches I really don't like. Might not be smart to tip my cards like that, but it's all a process, right? This is how we learn and grow. 

To that end, here is some of what I learned in a series of posts!

1.  Don't bring everything--EDIT your supplies and keep everything light.

Varanasi has to be one of the most amazing cities in the world, certainly one of the oldest. At breakfast on the roof of the B&B, I'd sketch the river walking up.

Yep, I brought too much paper, which weighs a ton to carry. I ended up filling only one Pentalic 7" x 10" sketchbook (which worked perfectly when I put multiple images across two pages) and one block of Fluid watercolor paper, 8"x16" for larger sketches. I also was not allowed to use my easel and tripod many places, so luckily, I brought a large piece of corrugated plastic to which I just clipped everything, holding it all in my lap for painting. It worked pretty well and was much lighter. 

I have to sit when I sketch, so my super light Tribe Provisions 3-leg stool was essential and often doubled as an easel when I sat on the ground. Where the ground was uneven or dirty, I had a small, virtually weightless square of foam to sit on. I lugged pens and ink but always just went back to pencil. Luckily, a little bit of watercolor goes a long way, so I didn't have to bring much paint. I put everything into one backpack and one carry on!

Old City, Varanasi. Sketching drew a crowd and constant selfie requests everywhere we went. Here I am using the large corrugated plastic base with everything clipped to it, resting on my bag in my lap. I cut a hole to hold the medicine bottle water container.

1 comment:

  1. I viewed this series of posts last to first. Viewing ‘backward’, I kept thinking to myself I need to KEEP IT SIMPLE. I am curious how many colors were on your palette. I tend to want to take everything I possibly can carry, just in case I need it. Thank you for posting with the tips, it is always fascinating to read your travel posts. Beautiful work.