Art from the Road

I am an absolutely terrible artist. You may have heard about a project that I was a founding member of back in 2008, Free Crappy Portraits. The purpose of Free Crappy Portraits (FCP) was to draw strangers in public (with or against their will) and/or from the Internet based on photos they submitted. We kept our clients’ expectations low and never disappointed!

The only art class I took in college was art history. I signed up for a park district painting class a couple years ago and the instructor simply stopped showing up. Although I am a lost cause to the art world, I found my place creating really bad portraits for strangers at no cost.

Today, I carry around a sketch book wherever I go on my travels. Although I my technique is embarrassing  and I have no sense of perspective, I love to draw the versions of things that I see along the road. My recent travels to South Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana were no exception. Here are just a few of the awesomely terrible works of road trip art from my sketchbook.


I call this one “Mt. Gnomemore”. After walking around Mt. Rushmore with my trusty travel gnome, I felt that the roles should be reversed. I think that this is a truly brilliant idea and after Googling it, I am convinced that it is unique to my creation. This may just be my ticket to fame and fortune.


Created with oil pastels, this is my “Welcome to Montana’ drawing. As we crossed the border from Wyoming into Montana, we were greeted with cows on the side of the road, lakes and rivers in the foreground, mountains in the background, and adorable cabins along the roadside. A night of peaceful camping awaited us across the border.

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This colored pencil sketch is called, “Creatures in the Campground.” We camped at Mammoth Campground in Yellowstone National Park for five nights. Due to the winter season, it was the only campground open at that time and the temperatures often dipped below 20-degrees.

Bison and elk regularly roamed about the campground, incredibly close to our tent and Jeep. Although I was initially terrified to sleep next to these wild creatures (who would surely attack at any moment), I eventually came to trust that they wouldn’t mess with me if I didn’t mess with them.

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Prior to starting this road trip, we bought an inflatable kayak and all the necessary accessories. Although the temperatures were almost always cold and the winds strong, one particular day in the Big Horn National Forest of Wyoming proved to be perfect for boating.

Our first kayaking attempt in the Big Horn Canyon was successful. We didn’t tip over, the kayak didn’t get punctured, and no one got hypothermia. This above photo depicts a painting that I completed while staying in a remote, snowed-in cabin at 9,000+ elevation.

Although I take travel notes and write throughout my trips, my crappy artwork helps me to remember things the way that I first saw them. Although my drawings and paintings could easily be mistake for a five-year-old’s, I love flipping through my sketchbook and making fun of myself from time to time while reminiscing.

Even if you’re an avid photographer or writer, give it a try. What you see in your mind’s eye might provide a more lasting memory than any snapshot could show or words describe. For whatever reason, it does for me.

1 thought on “Art from the Road

  1. Pingback: Crafting on the Road | Alyssa v. Nature

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