Groovy Links of the Month: Ideas for field sketching kits

A pencil and a sketchbook are the bare minimum supplies for a travelling artist!

Truly, this is all you need to enjoy sketching nature outdoors!

This year, for some reason, I have felt compelled to switch up my ordinary travel sketching kit. In February, I took pastels to the Grand Canyon. In August, I took a variety of materials to the Grand Canyon and Zion, but ended up using my tried and tested watercolor and ink pen method the most. For the Bosque del Apache birdwatching trip, I used just my favorite mechanical pencil and a cold-press, mixed-media paper sketchbook that was part of the equipment list from a workshop at the ASBA conference.

I love to see the field-sketching kits used by other outdoor and nature artists. Every artist who works outdoors on a regular basis develops a preference for some materials and gear over others. Below are some ingenious ideas for ways to make drawing and painting on location more comfortable and practical.

Hope you enjoy taking a peek at these ingenious set-ups, and maybe get some ideas for your next outdoor painting foray. If you have an interesting tip or idea for traveling with a sketchbook, please share it in the comments!

Current projects: Fall bounty

Last Sunday was cold and snowy here in the high desert. I didn’t need much encouragement to spend the day in the studio drawing and painting.

I love decorative gourds and Indian corn. They are so colorful, and challenging to draw, what with all the knobs and kernels and twisting leaves.

Three decorative gourds on tile, a watercolor and colored pencil on paper botanical art study.

More of a still life than a botanical painting. I decided to place these gourds in an environment, rather than floating in empty, white space.

The simple round and elliptoid forms of winter gourds look odd to me when composed with a blank, white background. Placing them on colorful Talavera tile gives them more gravity, plus it lets me play with differing degrees of rendering vs. impressionism. After some washy watercolor layers, I began defining the gourds with colored pencil.

Pencil drawing on layout paper of decorative maize. A work in progress in Wren Allen's studio.

At some point, you just have to grit your teeth and render every kernel!

We drove through Española a couple of weeks ago and picked up some Indian corn and gourds at a produce stand. I’ve been daunted at the complexity of the challenge in drawing the ornamental corn cobs, with their multiple colors and the textures–and of course, their wild head of hair! The cob leaves dry into all manner of twisting ribbons and forms. Also, as the corn is fertilized, the seeds grow in unruly rows and spirals. No neat grids or tidy Fibonacci spirals here!

I stopped this drawing when I realized that with each progressive row, I had decreased the height of the kernels, leaving a gap between. Yikes! Time to pull out the eraser and try again. 🙂

 

Wildflower Wednesday: Maybe an orchid?

Colored pencil sketch of a red-stalked, leafless wildflower with round seed capsules, found at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona.

Could this be a coral root orchid? Enquiring minds want to know!

This unusual looking plant was growing by the side of the Bridle Trail in the North Rim of the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona. It’s just under a foot tall, and is leafless with a dark red, subtly striped stalk.

Arizona wildflower, leafless, with a red stalk and round seed capsules.

I can hardly wait to find out what it is!

I immediately thought it might be a coral root orchid. Unfortunately, the seed capsules are roundish, and the two coral roots in Arizona have ovalish seed capsules. I sent in a photo to one of the rangers, who had said she would pass the information on to one of the botany specialists on staff.

If you have an inkling as to which species this might be, please drop me a line in the comment box! 🙂

Wouldn’t it be so exciting if it were an orchid?

Welcome Wildflower Wednesday link-partiers! The Wildflower Wednesday link party is the brainchild of Gail Eichelberger of Clay and Limestone blog. Go take a look at some of the exciting late-summer wildflower images people are sharing from their gardens and hikes. Enjoy!

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