Travel and Art

5 Tips to Find Artistic Inspiration through Travel

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Travel is a great way to find artistic inspiration. I know that for me travel helps to open my mind and to give me inspiration for my art.

One of the ways that travel can help you find some artistic observation is by seeing new colors and color combinations through your travel. It will also open your eyes to new patterns. Through people watching you will find new subjects to paint. You will also see new shapes and objects. Travel helps to train you to be more observant.

Travel is a great way to be able to explore the world and explore your art.

Travel opens your eyes, train your eyes to observe.

An artist should be a keen observer. If you do not feel like this is something you can do then you should start to learn to become an observer.

Observing and looking may seem like the same things, but they are not really the same things. Here are the differences between looking and observing;

  • Looking – If you are just looking this means that you are just seeing things without the real intent of using what you are seeing later. Many times people will just look, which means they see things but without any real intent to remember it or recall it later. With looking they are not making any mental notes, they are just seeing without any intent to have to recall anything. I know sometimes when walking for exercise, I may see what is going on around me but my mind may be concentrating on other things. I see things but I do not always remember everything.
  • Observing – When a person observes they are keeping what they are seeing in their mind so that they can recall or question it later. To really observe means that you are making a mental note and telling yourself that you are going to store this memory back in your mind for future use. If you have a hard time to really remember you could make a note or carry a book to draw something down. Sometimes I do this with designs or inspiration I make a mental note on a pad, or paper or on my iPad so that I can remember what I had observed.

To really learn to observe is something, you can learn and practice by making a mental note and then trying to see what you remember. Also, you can take a photograph so that you have a snapshot of what you wanted to paint so that you have the photo to use as a reference for later.

Travel helps you to be able to build not only your observation portfolio but also your travel photography portfolio.

To learn to be a very a good observer you can do the following:

  • Look for details – To be a good observer will look at all the little details. A good artist does not just see a tree they see the details on the tree.
  • See the lights and darks – So much about art is seeing the lights and darks of the colors and the color variations. An artist who is a very good observer will see not just a face but also the lights and darks in a face and how it shapes the face.
  • Look for the shadows – Shadows are a very important part of art and to be observant means that you also look at the shadows and see how the shadows affect the color and the shape
  • Take mental notes – Learn to take mental observational notes. You can also use this as a way to test your observation skills. you can make a mental note and then test yourself on what you remember or have forgotten.
  • Sketch out your observations – You can sketch out your observations. Carry a small notebook and so you can sketch things out. Or with an IPad, Apple pencil and procreate you can sketch out your observations or ideas when you see them.

To be a good artist you need to learn to be a good observer and this is especially true for you to get the very most out of your travel experience as possible.

William S Burroughs has said that an artist needs to have creative observations or creative viewing. He said:

“Nothing exists until or unless it is observed. An artist is making something exist by observing it. And his hope for other people is that they will also make it exist by observing it. I call it creative observations. Creative viewing.”

William S Burroughs

Travel will open your eyes to new colors, so look around at all the amazing colors.

There are so many great colors out there and as you travel you can start to see color combinations that you never thought about using before. I believe that travel, any kind of travel, help you to open your eyes and to see new colors.

It was Henry David Thoreau, the famous poet that eloquently said:

“This world is but a canvas to our imagination.”

Henry David Thoreau

This is how travel and travel experiences help us to see new colors and new color combinations. So when we get out into the world and not just look at a book or photograph we will see things that inspire us to put them on canvas.

This does not even mean you need to get a passport and hop on a plane for 30 hours, you can start by going out to look at your own surroundings. Here are some suggestions for you:

  • Travel your area – Find a town or area near you that is no more than an hour or two away from you that you know or heard was interesting or beautiful. Does not even have to be a small town, can be a large vibrant city. Many cities are filled with some great art and even graffiti that can be inspiring and beautiful. Go there with a camera in hand ready to take some photos of colors and inspiration you see all around you.
  • Go on a hike in nature – Go on a hike out to nature and look at the colors that nature has to offer. One of my favorite things is in the autumn time in America when so many parts of the states have such a beautiful array of changing colors with al the fall leaves.
  • Plan a trip to someplace inspiring – Plan a trip to someplace that you will find inspiring. I recently went to Mongolia and though I did did not think I would be inspired there, but I was inspired by so much that was there in the countryside. I was really taken by some of the camels that I rode on. I was so inspired by the camels that I rode so I decided to paint them. I am sure if I had not traveled to Mongolia I maybe would have never been inspired to paint the camels.

Travel will help you to be able to look at life and other things from another perspective. This new perspective can help you to look at your art from another angle.

This being able to see the new colors and new perspectives can help you to shake up your art a bit and give you a fresh and new take on things. For an artist, being able to shake things up and have a new and fresh take on their art can be a very positive thing.

Travel will open your eyes to new patterns, you can find them everywhere.

The world is filled with so many great patterns. But if you are always looking at the same patterns at the same place it can get you in an artistic rut. But with travel, it can help you to see something new – something that will inspire you for your art. Whenever I travel I like to look around me and see the patterns that are everywhere.

So many great patterns are out there in the world. But to really see them you need to travel out there in the world.

Here are a few suggestions of some places that you can look for inspiring patterns:

  • Floors – There is something about the floors and especially floors around the world that can offer some really great inspirations for some patterns can be found on the floors.
  • Walls – Sometimes some walls also have some great patterns. Especially if you are in a city there can be some great graffiti that can even be inspiring. Some cities have art on buildings and other things that can also inspire. But many times just the art on a wall, or patterns of tile on a wall can also be very inspiring.
  • Nature – Nature has a lot of great patterns that can be very inspiring. There are many patterns and colors in nature that can even be translated into art, even abstract art.

Vincent Van Gogh said about nature:

“If you truly love nature, you will find beauty everywhere.”

Vincent Van Gogh

Travel will open your eyes to new people, so start people watching.

There are so many interesting and wonderful faces out in the world. Also so many people with so many different skin tones and colors.

When you travel, especially if you travel internationally, you will see so many interesting people and compelling faces. So many of these faces, when painted, make for a great work of art.

Sometimes when I am traveling I may just sit on a park bench somewhere, I love to do this to study people and their faces. I may sit there and look at the details. The shadows on the faces, the way they move and walk, the shadows or colors on their clothes.

I find by doing this kind of mental observations it helps me to be a better artist. When I do this kind of observation, when I am actually painting, I can then draw upon this mental memory.

I love this quote about observations from Lionel Aggett about the power the observations has in art.

“About two-thirds of the effort that goes towards the execution of a painting can, I am sure, be attributed to observation”

Lionel Aggett

Travel will open your eyes to new places, so look at all kind of objects and shapes.

When you travel it also opens your eyes to new places. And when you see the new places it helps you to be able to see something new.

As an artist when you out traveling, do not just look at the new places but also look at the negatives spaces of the new places. When you paint you look at not only the object but also the negative space. Painting is as much about that negative space as it is the object itself.

In speaking of negative spaces, Timothy Samara said:

“Negative space is magical – create it, don’t just fill it up.”

Timothy Samara

I love how Timothy Samara says to use the negative space in our paintings in a magical way. So when you are traveling and making observations or taking photos, get into the habit to look not just at the object itself but also train your eyes to also look at the negative spaces.

Travel is inspiring and for an artist – it can be extremely inspiring for anyone but especially an artist that has learned to observe and not just look. So get out of the studio and get out in the world to be inspired by the world. It will help you as a person and as an artist to see a whole new world. The world can truly be our canvas.

How do you get inspired to do art?

There are many ways to get inspired to do art. Here are some of the ways:

  • Think – First think about what inspires you and what kind of art you want to do. All good art starts with thinking.
  • Memories – Go back to your memories and think of things you remember and wanted to paint.
  • Get Out, Get Involved – Go out and get involved. See and experience the world. Travel and the world will help to inspire you.
  • Live life – Life life fully. By living life you will feel life and this will help you to feel your art and get inspired.
  • Understand your instincts – Instincts are very important in life and especially for an artist. As many artists will go by their instincts for their art. So learn to understand your instincts and to trust them and go by them in your creative pursuits.
  • Go with the flowArtistic inspiration is not something you can plan it is something that will come when it comes. So learn to go with the flow of your inspiration and how it will come to you.

How to get artistic inspiration from Pinterest?

Pinterest is a great visual platform. There is a lot of inspiration on Pinterest. So if you are not sure where to get inspired, spend some time on Pinterest to looking at what other people are pinning,

To get an idea of how Pinterest can help you as an artist, you can read our blog 15 Ways Pinterest Can Help You As An Artist by clicking here.

Anita Louise Hummel
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