Roadtrip2023: Five Reflections

September 15, 2023 | 6 Comments

It’s time to wrap up my series of articles on my recent road trip with my typical Reflections post. So without any further ado here they are…


1. A good model for a sketching trip

There is no doubt that there is something exciting about a traditional road trip – moving from place to place daily (or every few days) and seeing a lot of new places. However, this style of trip – staying in one place and visiting different towns each day (within a 1 hour drive radius) – was much more relaxing!

I actually love living out of a suitcase and constantly going to new places. However, as I discovered back in 2021, a traditional road trip involves a lot of planning and constant thoughts about getting from A to B to C each day results in little time to think about my art. On this trip, I did have my headspace for my work however…


2. One week is not enough

I found myself just getting into the groove and starting to have some interesting sketching-related thoughts on my last day in Canowindra. So I was a bit disappointed that I had to drive home the next day! And then on my last stop home, I did a loose landscape with the Neocolors (used dry) and it made me realise I should have been using them more throughout the trip.

So maybe next time I could base myself in two different locations for one week each so that I have more time but still maintain a road trip feel.


3. Verandahed main streets are tricky

Even though I felt really comfortable sketching these complex street scenes this trip, I still haven’t worked out a way to do them more loosely. If I had had a second week I think I would have gotten somewhere with this as I did get some ideas while sketching in Canowindra.


4. Graphite pencils are a great sketching tool

I’ve known this fact for many years but I’ve never properly experienced this until recently. 🙂

I really enjoyed using graphite and found it very freeing to use when

  1. I didn’t really feel like committing to a normal sketch
  2. the scene was complex or the lighting was flat.

I absolutely love the feel of the Castell 9000 graphite pencils (more than any other pencils I’ve tried) and I really want to develop a way of using them that suits my style of sketching.


5. Dry media works well for travel sketching

I’m really happy with the decision to use all dry media this trip (even though there were times when watercolour would have been nice!)

There is no doubt that dry media makes it easier to:

  • start a sketch, 
  • sketch standing (especially when adding colour),
  • extend a sketch in an unplanned way,
  • add further details to a sketch at a later time.

A few other thoughts:

  • Dry media is often quicker and there is no need for ‘drying time’.
  • It’s also nice not having to worry about keeping my water containers filled with fresh clean water.
  • I enjoyed the ritual of sharpening all my pencils each night (using my Dahle 133 Rotary Sharpener). Note: I carry a small knife around with me for any sharpening during the day.
  • Having markers and Neocolors were a good addition to the watercolour pencils so that I could more easily cover larger areas.


This dry period has been a wonderful challenge – trying new things keeps my creative juices pumping and helps me see my strengths and weaknesses in new ways. I’m definitely looking forward to returning to watercolour and seeing if there is any change.

The break from watercolour has been great and it was fun to do a sketching trip without it! But I am keen to get back to painting!


In summary… it was a wonderful mini road trip and it has made me even more keen to do more New South Wales adventures!



  • Barbara Stumpf says:

    Thanks a million for these astute reflections. I’m a piano teacher, and you’ve got me wondering if I could make some kind of at-home piano retreat that would shed additional light on my playing and teaching. Anyway, I love how you are constantly observing, questioning, and reflecting in order to keep “the creative juices flowing.” Thanks for all you do!

  • Sydney Brown says:

    I have some Neocolors too that I never use. I need to get them out and play with them. I like the effect you got with them,

  • Jamie C says:

    I have loved your dry media trip! Thanks for sharing your insights! I always learn so much!

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