May 5, 2016

Get out of the Studio! - Plein Air and Drawing Tips for Sketchbooks


Grab your stuff and shut the door! Time to work from life.

Heron on the River- ink, pencil and watercolour pencil (dry)

Don't get me wrong, I am love my studio and on a wet, gray winter day it is my favourite place to be.  But now the temperatures are rising and the days are longer, it is time to be outside.  Hiking, canoeing, camping and sightseeing are awesome activities to inspire you.  With camera and sketchbook you can the capture the light, excitement and memories forever.  I guarantee, any drawing or painting you do on the spot creates a lasting memory of the moment.  The wonder, the smells, the emotions are stored up in that picture. 
Okay, you are thinking "I can't draw.  It takes too long, my partners won't wait for me.  I can't . . . . "

It is easy to come up with the "I can't's".  However, I am not talking about creating a masterpiece.  (Although, you will be surprised what you can create in a very short time)  Your sketchbook is your friend.  It is not judgemental, very forgiving and waiting there just for you. 

But to be successful you must be prepare.

To really get into the sketchbook habit means you must be VERY portable. For 'masterpiece'  plein air painting you need a car load of paints and brushes but your sketchbook puts you on easy street. Small pack, minimum materials, smaller format - ready when you are. It doesn't have to be limiting. My last two posts have talked about several different mediums one wet and one dry that are light and portable.  Today is both: wet and dry.
Fishing Shack on the Newfoundland Coast - Ink and Watercolour (wet) 

Watercolour pencils.  The secret ingredient.  They are can be used dry, like a coloured pencil or touched up with water to give them a whole new life.  They can be used straight or mixed to get endless colours.  They can also be mixed with ink.  You just knew I was going to get that ink in there somehow.  Here again, you can take a bucket load of supplies but I recommend you Keep It Simple.  A warm and cold blue, yellow, red and a black.  A 03 Pigma Micron pen (or any other permanent ink pen), a 2 B pencil, kneaded eraser, pencil sharpener and a water filled watercolour brush.  This can fit in a small bag with a sketchbook.

 My pocket sketchbooks. I got tired of trying to find a one size fits all so made my own.  They will hold all your supplies and more.  Best of all they fit in a large zip lock back for quick dry storage in your pack.  See them here.

Endless combinations are possible with this little pack.  Pencil and ink, pencil, ink and coloured pencil, ink and coloured pencil, and pencil and colour.  The watercolour pencils are very versatile, smooth value changes wet and rough texture when dry.  They invite you to mix colours as glazing and laying are so easy to do.
Detail from Fishing Shack on the Newfoundland Coast - notice the rich blend of colours using several layers of watercolour pencils and the rich, deep dark with the ink work underneath.  (I really love the combination.  But I know I am that crazy ink loving person!)

An added a bonus with the watercolour pencils, to speed things up you can get your sketch together, add the colour and later go back with a wet brush to finish things up. Your traveling companions with be amazed at what you can do in 15 or 20 minutes!!

Humming Birds at the Feeder - watercoloured pencils (dry)

Time to sketch, grab your friendly book and get on your way.

Do you have a favourite medium or practice for sketchbooking in the summer? I enjoy my books and I would love to give it a try.  My books are always crying out for new projects.

Looking for a starting point?  I will be happy to set you up.  Call me now and set up a few lessons to get you on the road to a summer of fun with your art. Your sketchbook will soon be full of great memories and inspiration for the winter. 

I have a few more tricks to share on sketchbooking.  Next week's post is a guaranteed minimalist approach but has lots of colour and life.  It often becomes a crossover too. (Definition of Crossover: it moves into the masterpiece section and ends up being sold.)

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Have a great artful day, Wendy

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