|Passing clouds from my window by Jos van Riswick. The artist has
made a commitment to doing a postcard-size oil painting a day.
Wherever I visit, I always send my parents postcards. It's a
way of sharing my travel experience with them; giving them a sense of what I'm
seeing and the environment I've immersed myself in. They have postcards from
small towns and big cities, from local hot-spots and abroad.
And I used to always find postcards in vendor kiosks or
tourist shops, but now I realize I can take advantage of this mini format by painting
and drawing postcards of my own and then sending them to friends and loved
Working on a postcard-size scale means I have to create
tighter composition because there is no room to waste. In such a small format,
I've come to realize that an angle of action is key. Filling in all of the
space on the postcard tends to make the scene read flatly, so I try to pick a
strong diagonal or X-shaped arrangement that offers white space around the main
action to give more impact to the objects I am depicting.
Also, using less detail works to my advantage and prevents
my hand from cramping as I try to use tiny controlled brush or pencil strokes to capture
everything I see. But that's definitely not the only way of working. My amateur
abilities have led me to try and suss out the crucial parts of a scene so I
don't mess it up trying to add detail upon detail (especially in a watercolor painting!), but the more skilled you
are, the more you might be able to incorporate. Go for it!
||Landscape with farmhouse and shed by Jos van
Riswick. The strong diagonal in this landscape makes
the small postcard seem larger.
The postcards I'm doing aren't something I can just do in
the time it would take me to write on the back of a bought postcard, slap a
stamp on it, and send it. They require more time and devotion, so I'm totally
taking advantage of working from photos I take. I can snap a few throughout the
day when I travel and pick one to inspire a postcard when
I've got a few evening hours to work on the pencil sketch
The other thing I'm keeping with me on all my travels and
adventures is my digital subscriptions to Watercolor,
Drawing, and American Artist magazine. If I'm stumped over how to deal with a
scene I want to depict, I can "flip" through the magazines for inspiration and
instruction. Plus, they take up zero space in my suitcase! Make these a travel
essential for you, too. Enjoy!