Dip Your Toes in Miracles
When the days are longer and warmer, I fill my backpack with art supplies of the season.
Always ready, my pack reminds me to get out of the house and explore the waiting world, even if it’s my own back yard. I carry a diverse yet portable array of art media in anticipation of Nature's many moods.
I find that the wonders of Nature refresh the spirit and delight the senses.
We must make time to dip our toes in miracles.
Let's Draw This Summer!
Beginning mid-June, I will be offering a self-paced online drawing course full of ideas and technical guidance for a creative and art-filled summer (or longer). It's a great time of year to let your inner artist step out.
This summer, let’s all draw! Click here to Join my e-mail list for online drawing class details!
First--the drawing surface. I like a hard cover sketchbook that is at least 70lb. weight. Papers have differing thicknesses and “tooth.” 70 lb. is heavy enough to take a wet medium with minimal wrinkling for a light watercolor or ink wash, or working with watercolor pencils. I recommend at least a 9 X 12” pad. I prefer pads that lie flat, such as wire bound. I like medium tooth, which has some grain to give a slight resistance to drawing media. I use 100% rag or archival paper, so it won’t yellow over time.
I like to prepare a few sheets of heavier 140 lb. hot press watercolor paper with a toned ground. I have some favorite ways of doing this. The richly colored surface invites tonal drawing, oil pastel, pastel and colored pencil work. The mood of the color permeates the drawing, and it can also be easier to begin without the stark white, empty page. I slip those papers, cut to size, into my sketchbook.
For pastels, I may also pack a few sheets of toned pastel paper. (Teaser: I have an easy way to make my own pastel paper with a gorgeous tooth! I will do a demo in my course).
My Essential Dry Media
#2 mechanical pencil, Ebony pencil, Black and Sepia Prismacolor Pencils, Watercolor Pencils, vine charcoal, water soluble color sticks -or- oil pastels, small pack of Nupastels which includes black, white, gray and a few colors, a dip pen with nib.
My Essential Wet Media
I pack a small set of watercolors, a bottle of waterproof India Ink (make sure the cap is on tight), white gouache (an opague water-based paint that can be mixed with any color to create a tempera-like effect), technical pens of different widths, a bottle of water.
My Essential Tools
A small plastic palette, a paper cup (to hold water for dipping brushes), kneaded eraser, hard rubber eraser (I prefer white plastic), a small pair of scissors, glue stick (for collage), pencil sharpener, a roll of blue painter’s tape, assorted watercolor paint brushes or “water brushes" (the barrel of these brushes holds water and eliminates the need for a bottle and cup of water). Finally, some paper towels or a soft rag. You may want a simple view finder if you need some help narrowing your field of vision. Sometimes I pack a magnifying glass and mini-binoculars.
Sunscreen, a brimmed hat, sunglasses, drinking water, snacks, natural bug repellant, small folding stool or chair (or a beach towel), and a smart phone. I usually a bring light jacket or sweater if a breeze comes along. Comfortable clothing and shoes are musts. I small umbrella is handy, too.
It’s important to work outdoors in a place that is both comfortable and safe. Choose your location thoughtfully. Bring your phone for photos, calls, directions, and online research (what kind of bird is that, anyway?). As you are drawing, be aware of your surroundings. It's easy to become immersed in your work; you have to remember to pay attention to what's happening around you--people, insects, sun, storm clouds, etc. Some artists hang a sign on their chair that says "Do Not Disturb. Artist At Work." since passers-by might not understand that conversation can disrupt the creative thought process.
Safety first; avoid isolated areas. Twentieth century landscape artist Edward Hopper would sometimes sit in his car and sketch out of the wind and weather. I have a friend who paints from the back of his traveling van/studio. Some people frequent coffee shops and sketch street views. Perhaps draw with a friend.
You do not have to go far to have all the drawing inspiration you need!
What to Draw?
My approach to drawing outdoors is unlike typical landscape drawing and painting of ‘scenes’ or ‘views.’
Nature is an incredible teacher. What is she teaching YOU? What will you learn?
Well, that’s a whole other topic. (Yes, my drawing course will present that in detail).