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How My Norwegian Cruise Inspired Relaxing Painting on Vacation

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Prior to Vacation, I was definitely feeling the winter blues

Does winter put you in a creative funk? Do you often find yourself wondering what the heck to paint, staring at blank canvases, feeling uninspired? (sometimes down right sad!) Yeah…. I feel you friend, I’m the same way! As a lover of sunshine and warmth, living in a Midwest state that has long, grey winter, I usually find myself in that same position. Each year, once the holidays have passed, I seem to get a case of the dreadful winter blues. This year I was grateful to be looking forward to a cruise vacation with my boyfriend, making those winter blues seem a lot more temporary. I was counting down days until blue skies, ocean scenes, and unlimited painting on vacation.

I chose to go unplugged to prioritize genuine moments & creative opportunities

To make sure i prioritized this break from life, and to invoke creative opportunities, I decided to set the intention of going “unplugged”. In March, my boyfriend and I escaped a snow storm to set sail on the Norwegian Dawn cruise ship. The moment our cruise started moving, we turned our phones to airplane mode and opted out on any wifi plans. I traded my social media scrolling for quality time with my love, and painting in the sunshine. Doing this was hands down everything we both needed, and i’ll never regret creating unplugged memories.

Aside from relationship QT, going unplugged really made me notice my surroundings. That was evrything my creative little soul was craving! Our days were spent lounging on the pool deck, wind from the open sea, gorgeous puffy clouds above us. Once we made it to our destinations of Mexico Islands, our pool-side lounging was replaced with crystal clear oceans, adventurous excursions, and tons of opportunity to paint ocean-side. In this article you’ll find a collection of my art and some explanations of the inspiration behind each piece. (as well as a quick glance at my supplies list for easy on-the-go painting on vacation!)

The travel friendly art supplies I used for painting on vacation

To save on space and avoid messes, I definitely had to tweak my supplies list a bit. Below i give a brief list of what i packed in my bag. However, if you’re curious on full details, head over to part two of this series for a deeper explanation.

Now, onto the good stuff! Below are the paintings I created in my art journal. All inspired by blue skies, island elements, and crystal clear ocean waters.

I was obsessed with all the bright and colorful Plam Trees and used them as inspiration for some fun Palm Tree Paintings

colorful palm trees inspired Mexico island painting on vacation

Living in Ohio means during winter we REALLY don’t see much green around us. Most of our trees are dead, and it’s a running joke that we have 6 months of grey before spring finally arrives. To some people, palm trees may be something they see on the daily. For for me, that’s not the case! I was so in love with their bright colors, and I knew I could paint the little palm tree details using the supplies I packed. I created these fun layers on the trees by using my acrylic paint markers, a tool I found really helpful for traveling and painting on the go.

colorful palm trees inspired Mexico island painting on vacation
Of course I had to add a little bit of my own flare to my paintings – like this one, adding in a bunch of vibrant colors & layers of paint!

Snorkeling in Belize inspired this colorful jellyfish painting

belize snorkeling inspired jellyfish painting on vacation

We booked an excursion to snorkel with the fishies and it was SO incredible to see the ocean from a completely different perspective! Though we did not see a jellyfish, (and if we did I probably would’ve been freaking out because that seems very scary lol) I did find the underwater colors and ocean life so inspiring! The bright blue tones of the water combined with the vibrant pinks inside the coral reef definitely made me want to add some pink elements into my art, giving it a similar vibe to the colors I was seeing through my goggles!

painting on vacation was easy and accessible with my travel friendly art supplies

A beach day in Honduras inspired me to create this oceanside art

painting on vacation while looking at the honduras crystal blue oceans
painting on vacation while looking at the honduras crystal blue oceans

While sunbathing in Honduras, I looked up to see this gorgeous scene of crystal blue water, and rows of palm trees disappearing into the distance. I started painting what I saw in front of my eyes while my boyfriend snorkeled in the water, leaving me to get lost in my art. (which is a good thing! lol painting at home is one thing.. but painting on vacation is a whole different type of creative freedom!!) Take a peak at the photos below to tap into my inspiration for the painting above!

Color was everywhere I looked, and that of course inspired some bright and fun flower paintings!

colorful flower art created while painting on vacation

I absolutely love to draw and paint flowers, I find the process so relaxing and it’s really wonderful for my ADHD when I feel like I can’t sit still. (i.e. sunbathing and getting very restless at the thought of just laying there lol) I found the many colors around the Mexico islands extremely inspiring, and they instantly made me want to test out some of my vibrant paint markers, a new medium I gave a try for this trip.

colorful flower art created while painting on vacation

The skies I saw while lying on the cruise pool deck definitely inspired me to paint this cloud art

blue sky art created while painting on vacation

Anyone who knows me knows about my obsession with looking at the sky, and painting clouds, and this trip absolutely delivered on that obsession. The cruise ship pool deck seriously gave us such amazing skies to look at, especially while soaking up the sun and listening to the bands. Staring up at the puffy clouds inspired the cloud painting below, and it was kinda fun trying a different approach for my clouds! (since I packed a travel friendly amount of art supplies, and didn’t bring my usual acrylic paints.)

blue sky art created while lying on the norwegian dawn cruise pool deck and painting on vacation

10/10 recommend going unplugged and 10/10 recommend packing some supplies for painting on vacation – your creativity will thank you for it!

I will say, going unplugged really did help me to prioritize my creativity and take in the world around me. I truly love social media, creating content is one of the tasks I find so enjoyable with my career. However, I’ve found that looking at my phone too much can really cause me a lot of stress. Additionally my cellphone often takes away from appreciating real life moments. Even if you don’t have a tropical vacation planned, I highly recommend giving a day of unplugged intentions a try! Pack some travel friendly art supplies, and get out into nature! Take in the beauty, making note of what inspires you, and then paint your inspirations!

I hope this article filled your scrolling with lots of color and oodles of motivation to paint this week! If you find yourself feeling creative, be sure to comment below or even tag me in your masterpiece on Instagram – I would love to see it!

Thanks for reading, and of course, remember to stop and look at the sky!

Sincerely, your artsy friend that is rooting for you,

Arastasia Rolain – Traveling Mural Artist, Art Educator, & Creative Entrepreneur


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