Candace Rose Rardon, a professional sketch artist and storyteller with a passion for connecting with the world through art. Candace’s journey as an artist began on a weekend trip to Porto, Portugal. We’re thrilled with the opportunity of hosting a workshop with Candace in the very city that inspired her journey! Sit back and enjoy a behind the scenes look into a day in a life of a working artist.
Q: Please tell us a little about yourself and your art.
Hello! My name is Candace Rose Rardon, and I’m a professional sketch artist and storyteller with a passion for connecting with the world through art. Originally from the state of Virginia, I’ve spent the past ten years traveling and living abroad, and I’m now based in Montevideo, Uruguay, in South America.
My primary medium is on-location watercolor travel sketches, and I’ve been sketching for the past seven years in more than 40 countries around the world. For me, sketching is a perfect way to document our journeys — I love how it slows me down, encourages me to be more present, and most importantly, helps me create rich and lasting memories of each place.
Q: Can you describe the time when you first realized that creating was something you absolutely had to do?
It’s actually quite difficult to point to a single moment when I realized I had to create — because it feels like I’ve been creating all my life! I’m very grateful that my father was a trained artist and my mother owned a dance studio, so she has always encouraged my siblings and me to be creative. My mom even signed me up for my first private art classes when I was just six years old.
Q: Tell us about a day in the life – or a day in the studio, to be precise! What does it look like (and feel like)? What can you share about your process or routines?
One of the things I love most about my twin vocations as a writer and artist is that I get to wear a few different hats professionally — and this also means that my days don’t always look the same! Some days I’m working on a written story; other days I get to put on my illustrator’s hat and create a custom map or artwork for someone. I really thrive on this variety of projects.
For me, a good day is simply any day that I get to create something new and share it with the world — whether it’s a story, a sketch, or an illustration!
If I’m working on a story or illustration commission, the magic usually happens at my desk at home, where I have all sorts of favorite postcards and meaningful objects from around the world surrounding me for inspiration.
But if I’m sketching, then I love leaving my desk behind and viewing the world itself as my studio. I might set up to sketch right on the sidewalk, on the beach, or at a café table. I keep my sketching supplies to a minimum, so that they’re always portable and ready to go with me wherever I’m heading next.
Q: What piece of equipment, tool or color could you not live without?
My watercolors! And more specifically, my Winsor & Newton professional watercolor compact set — it’s what I’ve used since the very beginning.
Q: Where do you derive inspiration?
I am always inspired by stories! When I’m traveling, I’m always asking myself, “What’s the story of this place?” And especially, “How can I capture that story and share it with others?” For sketching inspiration in a new culture, I look to beautiful landscapes, interesting city scenes, or that one memorable detail or tradition that will really help me convey that place to others back home.
Q: Do you have any routines or rituals that get you into the creative zone?
Definitely. As I mentioned above, my days can really vary, depending on what assignment I’m working on at the time — but at the same time, my days always begin the same way, with several of my favorite rituals.
The first thing I do in the morning is make a cup of coffee or tea, and then I spend at least half an hour reading. Some days, I’ll also do a short meditation with my favorite meditation app Calm. Finally, I light a tea light candle on my desk, fill up my essential oils diffuser (mint and citrus are currently my favorite scents to have going while I’m working), and then I’m ready to start!
For me, each of these rhythms and rituals help me get grounded inside myself first, before I begin creating and engaging with the outside world.
I wish I could say my creativity never stalls, but that would be far from the truth — there are absolutely seasons where it feels harder to find inspiration and I feel like I’m in a creative lull. As tempting as it is to try and rush through those seasons, I’ve also learned how important it is to be patient with myself.
Instead of focusing on my lack of inspiration, I’ll try to do something different to get my mind focused on something else — I’ll go for a long walk or go to yoga, for example. I’ve also found that doing a simple creative task such as working on my art journal can help reset my mind for fresh creativity.
Q: How does travel inspire your work?
Travel doesn’t just inspire my work — it’s the very foundation of everything I do! As a freelance travel writer and illustrator, my love for the world and for different cultures is at the heart of every project and commission I work on.
There’s not a lot I love more than traveling in a new country and culture — and for me, sketching is a beautiful way of observing each culture more closely, and paying deeper attention to the different landscapes and cities around me.
Q: What do you love most about teaching?
Over the past seven years, sketching has truly transformed the way I live and see the world — I travel so much more mindfully now, and I leave each place with far richer memories and connections.
And so that’s why I love teaching — every workshop I lead is a chance to share my passion for sketching, and hopefully help others experience the same rewards of sketching that I’ve felt.
While I always love sharing art tips and suggestions online, nothing will ever compare to the magic of teaching a workshop in-person. There’s just something very special that happens when you connect with people face-to-face.
Seven years ago this month, I went on a weekend trip to Porto, Portugal — and that trip just happened to be when I created my very first on-location travel sketch. It was the first time I ever traveled with a sketchbook and watercolors — and from the minute I started, I knew I was hooked!
The connection I already feel to Portugal is one of the main reasons I thought it would be a great destination for this workshop. From the architecture to food to the Duoro River flowing through Porto, the culture is full of inspiration for sketch artists, and I truly can’t wait to share this with everyone on the trip.
Q: Do you journal or sketch?
A couple of years ago, I started keeping an art journal again (after a very long hiatus since high school), and I must confess that my journal has now almost become as important to me as my sketchbook.
While my sketchbook helps me observe and document the outer world, art journaling helps me pay closer attention to what’s going on inside me — and it’s also become a way for me to honor and celebrate more of life’s little moments. I especially love saving pieces of ephemera and creating collages out of them.
Q: If you could take only five items to create with while on vacation (not necessarily a workshop – any vacation), what would they be?
As I just shared above, sketching and art journaling are two key creative activities for me, so I’d have to be sure I was still able to do both:
1. My sketchbook
2. Drawing pens
3. Watercolor set
4. My art journal
5. Gluestick (for creating memorabilia collages)
At the beginning, sketching was certainly just a hobby for me as well, and it stayed that way for a year and a half before I began pursuing it professionally.
And so three specific suggestions come to mind in terms of making that leap: Firstly, start sharing your work online. Along similar lines, get feedback from others and see how your art resonates with them and what ideas they might have for what direction you could go in.
Finally, simply start treating your passion as a profession. One time, I was half-sharing/half-complaining to a friend that I didn’t have any art commissions coming in at the time — and he kindly pointed out that nowhere on my website did it say that I was actually available for hire as an artist. What a revelation!
Immediately, I redid my website to include an extensive art portfolio, lots of testimonials from past clients, and examples of the illustrations and projects I was available to take on. It made a huge difference, and I always encourage anyone looking to pursue art professionally to do the same.
Q: Any tips for balancing creative time and administrative duties?
As a freelancer, there are mornings when I start my day feeling pressured to get everything done at once. But I’ve slowly learned how to manage my time and energy — I now devote the first hours of my day to the most creative tasks I have to do, since that’s when I’ll have the most mental energy available.
After lunch, if I have other administrative duties to take care of, I’ll then switch gears and focus on tasks that don’t need me to think quite as creatively. I’ve found this balance has been all about just listening and paying attention to how I do my best creative work — and when.
Q: If you could spend an afternoon with any artist, dead or alive, who would that be?
A: I would love to spend an afternoon with German poet Rainer Maria Rilke, whose book Letters to a Young Poet was a game-changer for me (though I’ll share more about that below!).
Q: Favorite books that help keep the creative juices flowing?
A: As I just mentioned, Letters to a Young Poet has been near and dear to my heart, ever since I discovered it in 2011. Although Rilke himself wasn’t a visual artist, so much of what he writes in this collection of letters speaks to anyone who has committed themselves to a creative journey.
I especially love what he writes in Letter #4: “Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.” There are a lot of questions to navigate in a creative life, and Rilke has taught me how to be more patient with them.
Q: Where can we find you and your work?
A: My primary home online is my website and blog, Moment Sketchers, which can be found at www.candaceroserardon.com. I also love sharing daily updates on Instagram, @candacerardon, and on my blog’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/MomentSketchers.