The practice of keeping log diaries and journals has evolved through the centuries with the growing popularity of travel for personal enrichment. Five hundred years ago, artists like Albrecht Durer and explorers like Jacques le Moyne and John White recorded their journeys in sketchbooks and journals. Picturing exotic locations was part of topographical drawing and cartography. Knowing what a destination looked like helped travelers know they had arrived. The Sketchbook Traveler carries this concept to the next level, expanding the range of plein air enthusiasts by freeing them from cumbersome easels and wet canvases. It provides the novice an introduction to plein air methods, without burdening them with costly equipment. It provides educators with teaching tools and lesson plans, and professional artists with a way to refine their mobile practices. Through drawing, painting, and journal keeping, The Sketchbook Traveler guides readers toward more mindful engagement with the world around them, deepening knowledge and enriching their personal experience in ways that make every day an adventure.
James Lancel McElhinney is a visual artist, author, and essayist, best known for travel journals and other works exploring American rivers and Civil War landscapes. Exhibited widely, his works are represented in numerous public and private collections.With a Yale MFA, Tyler School of Art BFA, and study at Skowhegan, McElhinney has received grants from Pollock-Krasner Foundation and National Endowment for the Arts. He lives in New York with his wife, cultural historian Katherine Manthorne.