Tips and tricks for Sketching-Drawing Scenes on your Cruise Vacation

By Nathan Wertheimer
Multimedia Journalist

Have you ever seen anyone sketching/drawing artwork on your cruise vacation? I’m not talking about taking an art class that is taught on a ship. Plus, I have not seen any written articles about artists who have done this activity before. If you purchased your cruise vacation tickets for your family, then you’ll want to read this article if you want to do a creative activity while on board.

Before going on your cruise I suggest practicing sketching/drawing in your community or around town. Visit attractions, parks, hotels, resorts, etc. This will give you a chance on what you might encounter and how to face it. Working on location is different from working in a real art studio or at home.

What are some art supplies to bring on location? Get a backpack filled with black pens (non gels or alcohol based), watercolor set, variety of small paintbrushes, watercolor brushes, magic markers or color pencils, watercolor paper, and a water cup. Some items can be condensed down or left at home. Don’t over pack!

What art supplies not to bring on a cruise ship? Bringing an easel, a big drawing board, airbrush equipment, studio lighting, canvas, large amount of paint, etc. No one wants to lug around these art supplies. It may take up too much room.

Where to buy inexpensive art supplies? I purchased some art supplies at Wal-Mart, Michaels Arts & Craft, Joann Fabric, Five Below, Dollar Tree, and a few other places too. Prices will depend on each item. Cheap art supplies might work too. Some stores may take a coupon. You can find these coupons on the store’s website.

It is recommended to stay away from bringing any acrylic and oil paints. They are too messy and take time to dry. If you were doing only one piece of art then it would be ok. Plus, you may need a drop cloth not to stain the carpet or flooring.

When packing for your cruise you’ll want to double check to see what art supplies you are bringing. Don’t overload yourself with art supplies. All of your art supplies should fit into one backpack. Cruisers will not be able to buy art supplies while on the ship. Maybe the gift shop will have pens and small selection of paper, but that is about it.

Another thing to remember is sitting for sketching/drawing. One can used either a public bench, a cruise ship chair, or bring your own folding chair. I opted with bringing my collapsible tripod stool. Easy to fit in my luggage or carry on bag. The chair should be lightweight to move around. I tend to sit for 30 minutes to about two hours per sketch sitting. Times may vary depending on subject matter.

How should I dress when sketching on the ship or in port? Dress comfortably when on the cruise ship. When at a port of call you’ll want to put on sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses. Try sitting in the shade rather than in the hot sun. Sitting in the hot sun will get you sun burn. This is true!

Places to sketch while on the cruise ship. Here are just some of the ideas but not limited too. Keep in mind you will sketch in public places. Crew places are off limits to cruise passengers. Sketch your cabin, restaurants, bars, pool desk, shops, port of calls, interiors and exteriors, activities, and much more.

Sketching on location tips. If there is a huge crowd you might want to try a less crowded place unless they are going to be part of your scene. Position your chair for the best possible view. Then set your supplies and start sketching. Enjoy the environment.

Sketching tips on making mistakes and errors on paper. Just roll with it. Don’t waste paper and throw it out.  Turn it into something that you were not expecting. In the end, you’ll be wow it does add something. If all else fails turn it into an abstract piece. There is no rules, let creativity flow freely.

Encountering people while sketching. Some people may watch what you are doing. Some artists/sketchers don’t like being watched. So just ignore them. You might strike up a conversation with another artist or the general public. Most people are just curious. I get a trill to people watching and to see who will make contact with me. A cruise passenger might want to buy your sketch right on the spot. However, the cruise line does not want artists selling their work on the cruise ship. This would be in competition with the Art Gallery onboard your ship.

Going through customs with your personal finished artwork. You might have to prove that your artwork is yours. They will see your art supplies packed away. Most cruisers who buy artwork on the ship will have it delivered to their home. Very few art pieces are taken off the cruise ship.

When you return back home you’ll want to touch up the artwork. The last touch to add to your artwork is the title or location of the scene, date, and the artist signature. Then the artwork is finally finished.

Then prepare your artwork to be published on your website and or your social media accounts. Your fellow cruise passengers may want to view your finished artwork. It is an accomplishment to have your work showed to the general public.

Finally, this is a great activity for kids and adults alike. It does not matter your skill level. Overtime, each artist will get better with time. When you are back home join the Urban Sketchers in your community. It is a lot of fun being around fellow artists. Good luck…

What is the Urban Sketchers? Urban Sketchers has many official chapter around the world – a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising the artistic, storytelling and educational value of location drawing, promoting its practice and connecting people around the world who draw on location where they live and travel. We aim to show the world, one drawing at a time. The Urban Sketchers Orlando group is open to all to join. We go on location and draw from observation, capturing in sketches in our community life. For more information please visit .

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