Tag Archives: Art

Travel journals – artists tips and tricks

Do you want to be able to create beautiful travel journals but you just don’t have a creative bone in your body?

Then keep reading as I am about to share with you some practical tips and tricks on how to create a beautiful travel journal to save your memories from fading with time.

By following my tips, when you look back on your journal in years to come it will evoke your most fondest memories along with the people and places that changed your life forever.

Today, I am going to cover two areas:

1. Before you travel – Supplies you need – What supplies you need to carry with you (all travel light options ranging from 75grams to 300grams max)

2. While you are travelling – The process – How to approach writing in your journal from the thought process through to the final layout.

Before you travel – Supplies you need

Kit 1. Pen and pencil kit

Best for: People who want to write lots of words and travel super light! Even though this kit is light it still allows you to do some pretty fancy text work and only weighs 75 grams! It is best if you want to just write headings and notes about your adventures. Your journal will be mostly words with a few coloured headings.


  • 2 coloured double ended calligraphy pens
  • 1 super thick black calligraphy pen (4mm)
  • 3 fine line pens of different width (0.1, 0.5 and 0.8mm)
  • 1 double ended black calligraphy pen
  • 1 push pencil with lots of lead sticks in the stem and an eraser on the end
  • 1 zip lock bag

Artist tips:

  • Get pens with two ends so you can easily create thick and thin letters and save on carrying extra pens.
  • Getting push pencils with lead sticks and inbuilt erasers saves you carrying separate sharpeners and erasers.
  • Use zip lock bags as they are super light.

Weight: 75 grams (excluding the actual travel journal)

Kit 2 – Pen, pencil and paper kit

Best for: Creative thinkers who wants to add lots of colour to their travel journal. It has the pens to do fancy text but also has some watercolour pencils so you can add colour to your pages and glue to you can add momentos as your travel. Because of the glue I recommend carrying in a pencil case but still this handy kit only weighs 200gms.


  • 1 coloured double ended calligraphy pen
  • 1 push pencil with lots of lead sticks in the stem and an eraser on the end
  • 3 fine line pens of different width (0.1, 0.3, 0.5 and 0.8mm)
  • Small glue stick
  • Water brush for brushing over the watercolour pencil work
  • 5 watercolour pencils (the ones that dissolve into paint when brushed with eater)
  • 1 pencil case

Artist tips:

  • Taking a glue stick lets you stick momentos into your journal next to your words or just as they are.
  • Just use part of a postcard to save space in your journal. Most places that sell postcards sell the ones with 5 or 6 pictures of local scenery, hopefully places that mean something to you, so great for using in a journal when you don’t want a whole page to be just one postcard.
  • Watercolour pencils are great for those who want the paint effect but aren’t confident with painting or don’t want to carry paints on their trip. You just draw and colour in what you want then lightly brush over with water to get the paint effect.

Weight: 200 grams (excluding the actual travel journal)

Kit 3 (My travel kit) – The artist kit

Best for: People who want to paint pictures in their journal or use paints to create beautiful colours or washes across pages. I wouldn’t travel without my whole kit. As an artist I have spent years traveling around countries with various paints, pencils, books, paintbrushes and have gradually reduced my supplies to the bare necessities. With these supplies I can create a while painting of just write some text. The weight is only 300 grams so I can still carry it in my backpack/handbag and not be bothered.


  • 1 thick black calligraphy pen
  • 6 fine line pens of different width (0.1, 0.2, 0.3, 0.5 and 0.8mm and BS)
  • 1 pencil, sharpener and eraser
  • Small glue stick
  • Small scissors (note: remember to put in luggage when jumping aboard an international flight)
  • Watercolour box paint
  • 3 mini brushes that fit inside the watercolour paint box
  • 1 black permanent marker – sharpie
  • Small Ruler
  • 1 pencil case

Artist tips:

  • If you plan to do a lot of drawing the pencils with the lead sticks will not cut it as the leads break easily if you are planning to use pencils for shading or pressing hard and soft to create different effects.
  • I always take a separate eraser as the erasers at the end of the push pencisl often come loose or run out quickly if you do a lot of drawing.
  • Scissors allows me to cut the perfect shape from a postcard or momento and place exactly where I want which gives you better effect and much better use of space.

Weight: 300 grams (excluding the actual travel journal)

My kit looks like this and thanks to the lovely Axel and Ash also includes their wonderful Wanderlust travel journal.

While you are travelling – The process

End of day reflection – Travel journals allow you to contemplate the experiences you have had at the end of the day and jot down the places, people and events you don’t ever want to forget.

So, find a cosy spot, preferably with a margarita and reflect! Ask yourself “what did I love the most about today?”, “what did I learn about the world?”, “who did I meet that was amazing and why are they amazing?”

If your travelling experience is 100% perfect and rosy and beautiful then you would be…ummm an alien! Things sometimes go sideways. Reflect on these things too and ask yourself “what annoyed me so much?” “is there a funny side to this after all?” Maybe you want to whinge about your travel buddy which would be funny to look back on later and is most likely a good way of dealing with some of the confinements of extended travelling groups.

Reflection allows you to gather your thoughts and decide what the key things are you want to journal. Free yourself from writing pages and pages of content by using reflection as a tool to uncover the top three things you want to say. As Mark Twain once said “I would have written less if I had more time”. Fill the time with cocktails at the bar, sunbaking by the pool or drinking hot chocolate by a fireplace in your remote Norwegian log cabin and then….by the end of your reflection what you write will be worth reading in years to come.

Step by step …

  1. Decide what you want to remember about today and what you want to say about it.
  2. Decide if you will use a whole page of your journal or just a part of it.
  3. If you only want to use part of a page use your pencil and draw a light line around the area you will fill.
  4. Lightly pencil in your heading making it as big as you think you will need for big fancy letters or small fine letters.
  5. Write what you want say.
  6. Stick in any momentos.
  7. If your experience was super special and you know you have some amazing photos leave some small 2 inch x 2inch empty boxes so you can paste them in when you return home.
  8. Go back to your heading – by then you may wish to change your heading text to something more memorable and easier to find in years to come.
  9. Making your headings pop by changing the height or width or direction.

I hope this article helps you get your creative juices flowing and the journal you create is as unique and beautiful as you

Jousting for a PHD

Pencil on paper, 10 x 10 inch – Fiona Mearon Copyright 2018

A friend asked me to draw this for the cover of her PhD. It was a pleasure to help her after her amazing support in editing my first children’s book, “Dragon Brothers – Let The Adventure Begin” (out by Jan 2019). After years of painting I forgot how wonderful pencil drawing can be when you use a few shades and a light touch. I might even be inspired now to go back to drawing for a while and fill up yet another sketchbook.

Artist note: Eraser’s that look great that you can pump out of a pencil stick don’t work nearly as well as your favorite chunky cheap eraser.

How should artists depict women in paintings?

As a women I understand the effects visual media has on female self esteem. So when my almost 5 year old Niece, Zarna, asked me to paint her a picture of gymnasts for her birthday I had to ask myself “how should I depict women in a painting for her?”

The constant barrage of media depicting women with skinny bodies, flawless skin and carefree lives makes those of us with less than skinny bodies, skin issues and troubled lives a little bit self conscious!.  I don’t want that to happen to my gorgeous little niece!

My initial thoughts were to paint chubby, short, tall, out of proportion gymnasts reading books so that for years to come she is influenced by real life. In real life women come in all shapes do they not?

I sifted through thousands of gymnast pictures online to get inspiration and what I found is that all gymnasts who are high achievers have very little body fat, are on the short side, primarily small breasted, fit and flexible!

So in the end although I would have like to have made a political feminist statement about women in this painting I decided to paint the reality of what champion gymnasts actually looks like. I will leave my statement about womens body shapes for another painting.  Hope she likes it – I will be giving it to her tonight!

The Gymnasts-30x20inches acrylic on canvas - 5th birthday present for my niece
The Gymnasts-30x20inches acrylic on canvas – 5th birthday present for my niece
Close up of one of the gymnasts
Close up of one of the gymnasts
The palette - love working in acrylics - so quick drying I completed this piece in 6 hours!
The palette – love working in acrylics – so quick drying I completed this piece in 6 hours!

Where is the light coming from?

My first lesson in adding more than just the thing I am painting to a painting was when I got feedback from my uncle and grandfather on my first two oil paintings.  One was of a sunflower and the other was of Australian wildflowers.

My uncle told me I was missing light on my wildflowers.  I had slaved for hours over the various details and composition and picking the flowers. I was disappointed I didn’t get a “oh I love it!”.

When I showed my grandfather my sunflowers he said “your missing life from your painting”.  Again disappointment reigned supreme as I was hoping for that elusive “oh I love it!”.

I went back to the sunflower painting and I added a lady beetle and spiders web to the leaves/long stalks.

Missing the point on adding life!

I missed the point completely!

More paintings and more feedback I got to the truth.

How light falls on your art is one of the crucial elements that brings it to life.

15 years later here I am about to begin painting one of the most complex light settings in the history of paintings (I think). “A circus act with flood lights of various colours falling across many circus performers.”

Tonight I took a photo of my draft artwork and in photoshop I added various light effects.

As lights will be the last thing I add to the painting I will be printing out my final composition with the lights turned on and sticking it up next to my canvas so I remember where the light is coming from as I create shadows and bright sides to each of my circus performers.

Circus Acts

IMG_0001 copyI drafted this circus sketch in 2008 inspired by going to de a cirque du soleil show in Sydney.  I spent hours colouring the hand drawn sketch in Photoshop and went as far as to pick a canvas sketch it out onto the canvas and splash paint onto the background.

Then I put it in storage not be looked at or worked on until today.

7 years later in 2015  I am finally getting back into it.  First task is to re-sketch the performers – get composition correct.  Then colour them in with pastels to get costumes and colour scheme correct.  My plan in to paint the scene in oil paints… I wonder if I will get that far this time.

Circus Acts
The circus acts line drawing coloured using photoshop

I do love sketching the muscles on the performers and I’m sure I will spend many hours deliberating over the costume designs and color schemes!

Circus acts
The canvas 92cm x 122cm with sketched line drawing of artwork
Circus Acts background
Circus acts canvas paints with acrylics