How do you kill 30 odd hours strapped into the seat of an airplane? Movies on a tiny screen with the background drone of jet engines are OK for a while, reading is fine for a couple of hours, but scribbling in a little sketch book eats up the hours and is a lot of fun.

To keep things simple I use a tube of black and a tube of white gouache, a small brush with a built in water reservoir, a charcoal pencil, glue stick, fine line black  pen and a liner brush cut in half.

I once tried a uni posca white paint pen, but the change in atmospheric pressure at 30,000 feet caused it to empty half a cup of white paint all over my sketch book on the first stroke. The Uni Posca is only used at ground level now.

All stored in a ziplock plastic bag. Cut down rigger – still in the seat pocket of a Jumbo Jet somewhere?

12 thoughts on “AIRPLANE SKETCHES

  1. These are beautiful – and I love the collage. Commiserations regarding the liner brush that flew on without you. I left my 1/4″ Taklon brush under a cherry tree last week and am going back to search for it today because I had it brought from Melbourne – they’ve never heard of them here in Italy.

    • Hi Robyn,
      Bad luck about the taklon brush, hopefully it will still be under the cherry tree.
      I have left brushes all over the place, so now carry a second lot in another case. Since I’ve been doing that I haven’t lost a brush! (except for the cut down liner)

  2. The sketches are wonderful and I hope they bring back memories of the trip and not the plane ride. Great information about the materials you use…very helpful. Only one question. How do you clean the aquabrush as you go from black to white and back again? Have you ever tried using cold coffee for sepia paint? Might be a good use for the airline coffee. Anyway wonderful work and I have enjoyed everything you have shared about your trip.

    • Hi Linda,
      Thanks for your comments
      I wipe the brush a couple of times on an airline napkin between black and white. It seems to come clean very easily. I have never used coffee to paint with, but will try it next time. I’m sure it would be easier to paint with than it is to drink.
      Tea bags work well when you don’t have an aquabrush, but they have a short lifespan.
      Glad you enjoyed the post

  3. Now that is a fantastic idea.I am impressed with your results as I imagine you working with elbows tuck into your sides, left leg going to sleep and the person in front of you trying desperately to push their seat farther back. I am going to link your post to Creative Potager’s Tuesday “New Paint Box” post at People have been sharing new tools and techniques they have been using. This is a perfect addition to that conversation. many thanks Terrill

    • Hi Terrill,
      Thanks for Your comments and link on your paint box blog.
      Glad you liked the high altitude sketches.

  4. What great little drawings, John! You made good use of your time and I’m amazed at what you can do with so few tools. It’s in the mind and heart of an artist, not in the supplies he/she has available. I like the composition of the one with the RolleiCord and the collage bits especially well.
    Did you pull all that directly out of your memory or were you refering to photos? I know the first one could be any building in HK with all the antennas and clotheslines.

    • Hi Jo,
      Glad you liked the sketches.
      I usually base sketches on things that have happened over the last few days. The idea for the RolleiCord came from a photo in an airline magazine. In the background of the photo there was an old man using an ancient twin lens reflex camera. It just looked so funny – someone looking down into a big black box to take a photo, rather than arms outstretched, looking forward into a little silver box. I used to have an old twin lens reflex camera when I was a teenager. The sketch is how I remember it so is probably not very accurate!

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