Thursday, August 19, 2021

Travel Art Journaling with StencilGirl® Stencils

Art journaling when traveling brings me awareness of what I am directly experiencing through my senses (mindfulness) by observing my surroundings through my artistic eye. I love to travel and was so excited to re-enter society this summer by traveling to Utah.

Check out this photo of me and my travel buddies at Landscape Arch in Arches National Park. Our matching world map shirts were a blast. When considering the weight of our hiking gear and water, we wanted to limit the art supplies we brought in our backpacks. 
I don’t always take the same supplies but have core items that I choose based on the method of travel, planned activities, and the length of the trip. When traveling by air, I don’t take anything with liquid such as acrylic paint since I tend not to check luggage. I use a watercolor pan set which is light weight and doesn’t take up a lot of space. I also bring a watercolor sketchbook, a waterbrush, a few pens and pencils, and for this trip I added several StencilGirl® stencils.

I have a lot of StencilGirl® stencils and love working with them in the studio. It hadn’t occurred to me to take them with me when traveling, but they are highly portable and do not take up space or add weight. I think they add such a fun element to my art journal pages and are great way to add texture. Here is a list of the stencils I chose as well as why I selected them (not all were used in the video):
Compass Rose by Julie Snidle: compasses are a universal symbol of travel 
Windows Large Stencil by Pam Carriker: represent ‘windows’ in the rock formations 
City Map by Mary C. Nasser: urban vibe as a contrast to nature/national parks 
Sunburst Crackle by Daniella Woolf: sun for sunny desert location 
6” leaf motif from Stencil Club September 2020 by Rae Missigman: botanical 
Wheel of Hope from Stencil Club May 2017 by Pam Carriker: texture and shape 
In the video linked above you’ll see how I created a journal page while inside Arches National Park.
After finding a comfortable place to sit in the shade, the view of Turret Arch was the subject for my page. Don’t be surprised by people’s curiosity; I found they were really excited and thought what we were doing was very cool. It was a great reason to strike up a conversation and learn more about the area from other travelers.

I started my page with a line drawing using a watercolor pencil. Next, I painted the blue sky and earth-tone rock formations using a waterbrush and watercolors. I used the Mash Up stencil to add texture to the foreground. I added greenery and then used part of the Windows Large Stencil, subtle symbolism to our location, to add texture to the rock formations. 
A few extra lines and my art journal page memorializing my trip to Arches National Park was complete.
I hope I have inspired you to art journal on your next vacation to create something you can look back on for years to come. I’d love to see your travel journal pages so make sure to tag me on social media and check out my YouTube and Instagram accounts for more mixed media inspiration: 
Native Cincinnatian, Carolyn McGowan works in finance, while also feeding her creative appetite as a mixed media artist through painting, art journaling, book making, photography and travel. 


  1. I loved your little video showing you painting this piece. Nice use of the stencils for texture. (And loved that kitty at the end of the video ;-)
    Note: There's no link to the video in the article, but if you click on Carolyn's YouTube link, it's the first video.

    1. Thanks Terry! we fixed the video link ;-) Leo (my kitty) is definitely the star of the show ;-)

  2. Thank you StencilGirl... you have the best stencils and I loved working on this guest blog post!

  3. I always dream doing travel journal..thank you share yours. Inspiring!!



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