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Bucket-List Road Trip 2021 in Daily Sketches

After a year cooped up at home due to COVID-19, we scratched a road trip off our bucket list. We explored the eastern side of California, dipping into Death Valley, before heading East to Albuquerque, then north again to Moab and Dinosaur National Monument, all on secondary roads.

To commemorate our adventure, I added a watercolor/gouache sketch to the pages of my Brooklyn Art Library sketchbook. My challenge was more than learning how to use these water-soluble media, which were new to me. I determined that I would complete one sketch per day of our trip. That meant, I spent a few hours after dinner each night forming a point of view about the day and trying to render it on paper. See the slideshow to see how I summed up each day.

My main takeaways from this experience are that painting each day isn't hard. But, forming a point of view about a new experience is. Summing up a complex visual landscape stretching 500 or so miles to convey our wonder and excitement at the changing scenes proved especially difficult. I also came to recognize why living in the place you try to paint can be so helpful. The new landscapes impressed me and I yearned to capture what I saw and felt. But I found my lack of experience looking at those scenes a challenge when I pulled out my paint each evening to try to render them from memory. I simply didn't know how some parts worked.

I intend to spend more time looking and thinking about these landscapes by creating a series called 100-Mile Sightlines this year.

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