I am quite a lazy artist, all things considered, and when I travel I don’t often take a full sketching kit with me everywhere I go. Which is why I began carrying a small matchbox-sized notebook and a Palamino Blackwing pencil in my pocket instead.
In Japan, I used these to capture little sights from the train window on longer journey. Each sketch was just a few seconds long, as each subject slipped past the window. My pencil filtered things down to lines and abstract shapes, shadows against lights, and half-seen impressions.
In much the same way as sketching or painting en plein air, I found that this helped me focus, observe and enjoy my surroundings. I paid more attention to the shapes, silhouettes, groupings and light in the landscape around me. We passed through fields, apple orchards, country towns, winter forest, and, finally, the twilight ocean under heavy, satin skies.