Artist Tribute: Danny Gregory and Robert Alejandro and their travel sketchbooks

Another new section! Each month, I’ll try to talk about artists who have inspired me and how they’ve influenced my artsycraftsy attempts and my life in general. 🙂

Danny Gregory
Some years ago, I stumbled across Danny Gregory’s book in a bookstore. Flipping through it, I was entranced. It was vibrant and filled with so much creative energy and got me so inspired. I wrote down his name and researched his other books when I got home. A generous ninang learned about how much I liked his books and sent me my first Danny Gregory book, The Creative License, which I read ever so slowly, savoring all his creativity tips and luscious drawings.

His books reinforced my belief that every one of us has an interesting story to tell and how each person has an inner artist, how each one has his/her own artistic style.

Yesterday, a kindly fairy godmother sent me Danny Gregory’s memoir about love and loss, A Kiss Before You Go, which totally made my day (and made me cry in happiness a bit–Thank you again!). I have been reading about his wife Patti and their son Jack in his other books and was devastated to learn about Patti’s tragic accident. I finished reading it last night and discussed it in my book blog.

Danny Gregory amazes me with his ability to combine thought-provoking reflections and unforgettable drawings. I love his handwriting, the vibrant colors in his journal pages and his eye for detail. When I’m in a creative slump I browse through his books and become inspired and excited to start writing my own stories and experiences. His words of encouragement are life-changing for me. It would be an absolute dream to meet him someday!

Some of my favorite pages from his journals:
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ImageMore of his work here.

Robert Alejandro
Kuya Robert (of Papemelroti fame) is one of my idols. I am and will always be a Papemelroti loyalist. As a kid, I religiously collected Papemelroti products. I had a folder filled with Papemelroti notepads and various paper products. I remember we had a very cool adviser who gave us personalized Papemelroti planners for Christmas, with our name in neon orange puffy paint and a personalized dedication, then she placed each one inside a handmade origami shirt bag,  which made us all love her more. For me, the brand represents Filipino creativity and if the brand were a person, she’d be that crafty eco-friendly tita, or our awesome adviser.

I was lucky enough to meet Kuya Robert (and fangirl shamelessly) in the awarding night of NBDB’s National Children’s Book Award. While his work was being discussed onstage, I exclaimed loudly to my seatmate that I love him and his art (and other gushy statements) and to my embarrassment, I discovered that the guy with his back turned to me a few seats away (same table, probably heard my fangirling) was Kuya Robert himself! Haha.

One of my favorite drawings of his. Look at the detail!

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Check out more of his awesome sketches here.

Inspired by both artists, I have been drawing a lot more in my travel journal because I too have discovered that travel memories become more vivid when recorded on paper. I love taking photos but find that compared to photos, my travel sketches magically transport me to that specific moment and the details seem so vivid–the weather, the smell of the place, the sounds I hear in that area, my mood that day. Maybe slowing down and focusing your attention to a particular aspect of a place trains your brain to be more sensitive and all your senses to be fully engaged.

I am slowly learning how to not be too OC with getting the details correctly or the proportions right. I am teaching myself how to loosen up and not be too focused with perfection. I am doing this for myself, after all.

Using my calligraphy pen has forced me to stop being nitpicky and to embrace messiness, just record what I see, how I see it.

Some of my travel journals. That green notebook is filled with letters and ephemera from my trip to Thailand, and I gave it to my partner as part of my pasalubong package.

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The only hindrance I have to drawing all day is the lack of time. I would dream of drawing but have to decide if I should do that or explore some magical new place. Of course exploration wins, and what I just do is to take a lot of photographs and then draw it before I sleep while the memory’s still fresh. My camera’s review function doesn’t work anymore though (boo), so I am planning to do super-quick sketches within a limited amount of time, say maybe 5-10 minutes, Dr. Sketchy style.

Here are some of my travel journal pages. You can deduce if I had time to sketch of if I needed to hurry by the quality of the drawings, haha. I like experimenting with various sketching materials from calligraphy pens to plain crayons. It all depends on my bag space, the temperature of the place where we’re headed and my current obsession.

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My family and I will be traveling to another country next week. I used to bring just a thin notebook and a pen, and then transfer relevant ephemera to my main travel journal (a thick one that I can hardly close, heh), but for a change I plan on bringing a new blank journal this time, to inspire me to draw more and not be afraid of paper running out. (I have paper issues, haha).

Here’s what I’ll be bringing this time in my artsycraftsy travel kit. I wanted to bring more coloring items but was concerned about the weight:
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– A new travel journal, decorated with washi tape in my fave shades, with a handmade lucky knot as bookmark (made by an awesome friend)

– My reliable Pentel water brush

– Washi tape, for sticking brochures, tickets and food labels to my journal

– Little watercolor pencils

– A ziploc bag for special items: unique pebbles, fallen leaves, found items)

– Cameras and film. A friend commissioned me to create a washi illustration for her in exchange for lots of yummy film, which I’ll use with my Vivitar. I love the output of Vivitar, and can’t wait to use the film she sent (which came in a protective pouch!):

Any other suggestions for what else I can bring?

Happy weekend!

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6 thoughts on “Artist Tribute: Danny Gregory and Robert Alejandro and their travel sketchbooks

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