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Thoughts on Sketching Along Your Camino.

Camino(s) past & future
Camino de Portuguese [2013] - Camino de Santiago [2014]
Camino Frances Spring 2015. April 2017.
#1
I often get asked about the painting gear I take with me when backpacking, and the art items I took on my two Caminos.

While there is no one perfect art-pack to take with you whether for a single day’s hiking or a long month plus on the Camino, a small pack of well chosen item could help you produce some lovely small sketches. Even a complete beginner!

In the end it all comes down to two things, weight and goals. How much are you happy carrying and what do you what to achieve? For this posting let’s assume that (a) you don’t want to carry too much extra weight and (b) you’d like to do some nice simple sketches to accompany your daily journal, in fact let’s assume that your journal and sketchbook are the same thing. This works very well because if you use the left side of the two leaves for writing and the right side for sketching, or visa-versa, not only can they compliment each other but this also avoids having two watercolour sketches back to back; as they may show through especially if using journals made from thin cartridge paper.
When choosing a journal/sketchbook I prefer a small one with a ring spine, hard backed 8 x 5 inches, about 40 pages. Add two small bulldog clips to hold the pages open in the wind.

A small 10 - 12 pan watercolour paint box with mixing palette in the lid and a thumb holder underneath is ideal.
Watercolour pencils are also very good.

Whatever colours are already in your shop bought box make sure you have the following:

Cadmium Yellow - warm
Lemon Yellow – cold
Yellow Ochre
Ultramarine Blue – warm
Cerulean Blue – cold
Cadmium Red - warm
Alzarin Crimson – cold
Warm colours go in the skies and foreground trees, cold colours are great for shadows, distant hills and tree lines.
Also consider these colours for mixing greens and greys
Viridian Green - Prussian Blue - Paynes Grey – Lamp Black – Burnt Umber.
The small block of Chinese White if used correctly turns all of the above colours into a more opaque gouache, just take care not to ‘dull’ the other colours in their tubs so mix separately.

You can find travel brushes that separate and can be stored in their own handles.
A plastic pen brush that can be filled with water is ideal for laying a sky wash and for mixing greens. A non water soluble drawing pen for pen & wash.
Water-soluble pencil 4B and a couple of other soft pencils 2B/3B. I cut mine in half and keep them in different pockets.
Make lots of notes next to your sketches, then if you want to repaint it back home you will have more details to help. Include the position of the sun/light source, smells, sounds and colour notes – cloudy sky, blurred blue hills, multi green trees line, one reddish tree etc.
Decorate your journal with the same Camino stamps you collect in your passport, have it handy for your host to stamp and look through. Add wild flowers, tickets & receipts and new friends’ emails on the date page when you met them.
You may want to buy some watercolour paper, cut it into postcard size pieces and after you have painted a little gem you can send them home in envelopes as postcards, give them to fellow hikers or your host as gifts with 'stay in contact details' on the back, or tape them into your journal.
Stop and Sketch: If you stop four or five times a day to sketch 10 to 15 minutes you will still arrive at your albergue in plenty time to clean up and chat with friends before eating. If you don’t you will be sat around with little to paint wishing you had stopped by the steam, farm, hill-top that you passed by earlier in the day. By all means take photos to help you reproduce the painting later, not replace a sketch while walking.
Accessibility: If you keep your sketchbook in your backpack it will never get filled. Try and carry your sketchbook and art gear separate from your main pack, like your camera. Keep a small sketchbook tucked inside your jacket ready to whip out. A small separate pack allows you to drop your large pack off at your albergue on your bed and go straight out to sketch. Between albergues you can drop your backpack, sit on it and open the small pack and be sketching in under a minute. Tell friends to go ahead, you will catch them up. Don’t let them wait, it’ll only rush you. Enjoy the calm once they leave, the joy of seeing them again later and sharing your sketches.
Misc Extras
Small tight lidded container for water.
A small separate plastic soda bottle mark FOR PAINTING DON’T DRINK – skull & crossbones - to be filled from non drinkable water sources, puddles, streams.
Hat with a large brim.
An old tea towel for drying brushes and wiping hand, mopping your forehead, covering your neck.
Buy one soft moulding eraser and cut it into four pieces, like your pencils keep them in separate pockets.
Sharp retractable blade knife, trims pencils, scrapes out white on w/colour paper.
A soft light-weigh bum pad to keep your bum warm and dry while sat on damp walls.
A piece of natural sponge for dabbing in trees.

Start doodling and sketching now, everyday, everywhere and believe me you will improve and be ready to make some great sketches along your Camino.
 

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Tia Valeria

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pt Norte/Pmtvo 2010
C. Inglés 2011
C. Primitivo '12
Norte-C. de la Reina '13
C. do Mar-C. Inglés '15
#3
I have carried seeral pieces of pre-cut paper, a little larger than postcard size, 7 half-pans of paint with a pencil, cut down brush, a really tiny bottle for water and a 'palette made from a soap leaves container. All in a small plastic bag (apart from the paper which is carried in its own bag. Light and easy to carry but just right for the Camino. I use both sides of the paper so get 'double value' from it.
 

Mark Di Marzio

Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
2015 -SJPP- Santiago .Oct/Nov
2017 -Porto to Santiago.Oct
2017- Santiago- Finesterre. Nov
#5
Great advice and tips . I am heading back to the camino in late September 2018 . I bought a little notepad with about a 100 pages and hope to write journal entries on one side and do pencil sketches on the other - the last few times I walked (and worked hospitelero ) I had Facebook where I posted pics at the end of the day . I deleted Facebook early this year- -so this time I would like to keep a journal of my days walks for myself and hopefully make some simple sketches with a few HB pencils of different things I see -maybe augment them with a photo and notes to remember colours -the weather etc later on .
 

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Terri B

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
1998 St Cuthberts Way
1999 West Highland Way
2016 Camino Frances SJPDP to Santiago
#6
If only I could draw. I always take a journal and it would be great to complement the days entry with a scotch or two.
Unfortunately I have to make do with a camera not the same though. I ended up buying a couple of small paintings from an artist when I reached Santigo.
 

GraemeHall

Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances: St-Jean-PdP - Santiago dC - Muxía - Fisterra (Aug 2017 and March/April 2018)
#7
A great thread. Thanks.
I did one ink and watercolour sketch each day with my little kit. Here's just one. With a bit of info it is also my journal...all in a small book and now it's my memories too.... FB_IMG_1528202217233.jpg
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Inglés (2018)
#8
Here are some of the supplies I use in my travel kit:

Watercolor wheel: https://www.dickblick.com/products/koh-i-noor-watercolor-wheel-set/

I might take these instead Portable watercolor sheets https://igg.me/at/viviva-colorsheets/x/16775105

Along with a tiny palette (made from an old eye shadow case) filled with blobs of a few Daniel Smith granulating/reticulating watercolors.

Accordion Fold sketchbook
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00VYDJ5A...t=&hvlocphy=9021534&hvtargid=pla-304517648620

Panoramic/Landscape watercolor paper https://www.dickblick.com/products/sennelier-watercolor-blocks/

Watercolor postcards

Aqua brush, tiny spray bottle, pencil, waterproof sketching pen, sea salt in a tiny container, a bit of sea sponge, 1/4 of a Viva paper towel.
 
Last edited:
Camino(s) past & future
Camino de Portuguese [2013] - Camino de Santiago [2014]
Camino Frances Spring 2015. April 2017.
#9
If only I could draw. I always take a journal and it would be great to complement the days entry with a scotch or two.
Unfortunately I have to make do with a camera not the same though. I ended up buying a couple of small paintings from an artist when I reached Santigo.
That's the beauty of sketching, you don't need to be able to draw, just doodle.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino de Portuguese [2013] - Camino de Santiago [2014]
Camino Frances Spring 2015. April 2017.
#10
A great thread. Thanks.
I did one ink and watercolour sketch each day with my little kit. Here's just one. With a bit of info it is also my journal...all in a small book and now it's my memories too.... View attachment 43336
I posted my version of this today of my FB site.
 

Attachments

Camino(s) past & future
Camino de Portuguese [2013] - Camino de Santiago [2014]
Camino Frances Spring 2015. April 2017.
#11
Here are some of the supplies I use in my travel kit:

Watercolor wheel: https://www.dickblick.com/products/koh-i-noor-watercolor-wheel-set/

I might take these instead Portable watercolor sheets https://igg.me/at/viviva-colorsheets/x/16775105

Along with a tiny palette (made from an old eye shadow case) filled with blobs of a few Daniel Smith granulating/reticulating watercolors.

Accordion Fold sketchbook
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00VYDJ5A...t=&hvlocphy=9021534&hvtargid=pla-304517648620

Panoramic/Landscape watercolor paper https://www.dickblick.com/products/sennelier-watercolor-blocks/

Watercolor postcards

Aqua brush, tiny spray bottle, pencil, waterproof sketching pen, sea salt in a tiny container, a bit of sea sponge, 1/4 of a Viva paper towel.
An interesting kit, Theresa. I don't think I'd use the folding watercolour sheets, i'd not be able to mix as I like, and I can imagine the mess were I to drop the pad in the rain. This is the best travel paint box I've found and used for over 20 years... https://www.amazon.co.uk/Winsor-New...116&sr=8-3&keywords=watercolour+paint+box+set
 

Terri B

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
1998 St Cuthberts Way
1999 West Highland Way
2016 Camino Frances SJPDP to Santiago
#12
That's the beauty of sketching, you don't need to be able to draw, just doodle.
Unfortunately my doodles all come out as geometric shapes or Christmas trees neither of which I saw on the Camino.
 

MikeyC

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF - September 2016
CF - April May 2017
Shikoku - October 2017
Kumano Kodo - October 2017
#13
A great thread. Thanks.
I did one ink and watercolour sketch each day with my little kit. Here's just one. With a bit of info it is also my journal...all in a small book and now it's my memories too.... View attachment 43336
What a beautiful memory to have. So much more personal than a digital image.
As an aside I have to say that I gave
up sketching as I seemed to be drawing the wrong crowd!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Samos-Santiago (2015)
Samos-Santiago (May 2016
Porto-Santiago (May 2017)
Kumano Kodo (March 2018)
#14
I just started sketching and using watercolors earlier this year and here’s one of mine. You don’t need to “be able to draw” but rather you need to practice a little bit each day. Draw anything. Draw everything. Just draw! And relax. You’re doing this for yourself, not for the world or any art critics.

Now I see how mine actually compares to how others have seen the same scene and i’m pretty happy with it!

Thanks for starting this thread. Art isn’t a competition but rather something to be done for enjoyment, pleasure, and relaxation. Don’t stress in your Camino.
 

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Mark Di Marzio

Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
2015 -SJPP- Santiago .Oct/Nov
2017 -Porto to Santiago.Oct
2017- Santiago- Finesterre. Nov
#15
That's really beautiful . I like watercolours . They are really simple but beautiful and perfect for the Camino . On the weekend I bought a small watercolour box to bring on my next Camino on Sept 22 ,2018 . I'm hoping to write some journal accounts and add a simple watercolour sketch of my pilgrimage . Here is a watercolour I did from my travels in Italy a few years ago .
 

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OzAnnie

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
'Portuguese' ' Frances' ' Norte' 'Salvador_prim' ‘le puy’ ‘Inglés’ ‘CDM’ ‘Invierno’ ‘Fin_Mux’
#16
Wow.. such an inspiring thread and I'm so impressed with all the attachments of sketches.
You all are blessed to have this talent. I might start 'doodling' at least.
Annie
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Inglés (2018)
#17
Wow.. such an inspiring thread and I'm so impressed with all the attachments of sketches.
You all are blessed to have this talent. I might start 'doodling' at least.
Annie
You will find that stopping to sketch or paint really puts you in a different frame of mind. I can always put myself back in the spot where I was drawing, even years later. The location/experience/time of day belongs to me forever and I leave a little of myself behind in each spot that I paint. These are from a trip to France and Spain last year.
 

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OzAnnie

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
'Portuguese' ' Frances' ' Norte' 'Salvador_prim' ‘le puy’ ‘Inglés’ ‘CDM’ ‘Invierno’ ‘Fin_Mux’
#18
You will find that stopping to sketch or paint really puts you in a different frame of mind. I can always put myself back in the spot where I was drawing, even years later. The location/experience/time of day belongs to me forever and I leave a little of myself behind in each spot that I paint. These are from a trip to France and Spain last year.
@Theresa Brandon
thanks for sharing your sketches. I'm honestly in awe. Such a gift.
I think I understand what you mean about being able to 'put yourself back in the spot years later' looking at your sketches. I do that with my photos, but I can understand that with the time given to really 'looking' at the view you're sketching, it would be even more-so. Maybe as strong as 'a particular scent/smell' from the past; when experienced again...takes me straight back to a time in my childhood.

Great thread @Hiking Gauguin

Annie
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino de Portuguese [2013] - Camino de Santiago [2014]
Camino Frances Spring 2015. April 2017.
#19
You can follow several Camino Artists on Camino Art, Poetry and Music Facebook page.
 

sibams

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Future Sept 2018
#20
This adventurous pastel artist intends to paint one pastel painting for each 5 miles (8km) from Le Puy to Finisterre!!
1,000 miles, 100 days, 200 paintings, 1 donkey!
Her kickstarter fundraising page is here: HERE
Seems like she is already nearly 45% funded and the original paintings are included in the rewards for backing the project!
 

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