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!

Hello Soul, Hello Mantras: Discovering personal mantras

Pyrrol red, green curry, cadmium yellow and orange, and indigo are some of the acrylic paint colors in Wren Allen's studio.

Acid-bright colors take me back to grade-school days drawing with crayons!

While I waited for my acrylic paints to arrive, I spent the week working on the writing and guided meditation exercises that are the foundation of Kelly Rae Roberts’ Hello Soul, Hello Mantras painting e-course. I’ve completed 2 of the exercises so far, and found them to be surprisingly challenging.

One of the interesting things that I realized while I was doing the exercises, was how often the mottos or phrases I use as motivation are actually more like an inner drill-sergeant barking out orders. “Half way is better than no way.” “Can’t never could do anything.” “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” Etc, etc.

The result of those “drop and give me 10” style of internal tapes was often anxiety and frustration when the to-do list didn’t get done!

Some of the mantras I’ve developed so far, with a couple of notes:

  • Leave the beets. Eat the pudding. How often do I put off studio time in favor of the necessary drudgery of living? This mantra is a twist on the Pink Floyd’s The Wall, lol. 🙂
  • Get out of your head and into the now. How often do you find yourself stewing about some negative experience or emotion when you are surrounded by a perfectly beautiful day or enjoyable outing? I know I need to remind myself to be present in the glorious moment!
  • Perceive with the eyes of your heart.
  • You are allowed to ask for the help you need.
  • Seek out moments of delight. A reminder to drop that nagging to-do list once in a while.
  • Heal. I’ve been battling a shoulder/neck injury and overtraining this year. Sometimes you just need to step back and let the body recuperate.
  • Savor. Another reminder to be in the moment.

How about you? Do you find that your personal mottos tend to come from a drill sergeant, a cheerleader, a scolding parent?

Meeting resistance as I start the Hello Soul, Hello Mantras e-course


Kelly Rae Roberts' mixed-media art class requires type, decorative paper and acrylic paints, among other supplies

Why you should never get rid of anything: Two years after getting rid of all kinds of “extraneous” art supplies, I’ve enrolled in a mixed media art class and need to go out and buy what I used to have! lol

Kelly Rae Roberts’ mixed-media painting e-course started officially yesterday, and already I am facing the challenge of internal resistance.

Two years ago I gave away all of my art supplies except for watercolor, inks, colored pencils and pastels in preparation for our big move to New Mexico. It was time to pare down, to fit my new and much smaller work space, to say goodbye to open options and hello to focus on one direction as an artist.

It was painful to get rid of drawers of beautiful papers collected slowly through the years, print ephemera and souvenirs like maps, matchbook covers, brochures gathered from every place we’ve lived or visited, jars of paint and odd tools purchased here and there on a whim.

But after giving it all away, I felt good. Clear. Open. Free.

And now I discovered I would need all of these things I gave away for this course.

Like all transitions, this one is painful.

The questions arise:

  • Do I really want to re-open my art practice to multiple expressions?
  • Should I really be spending all this money just to play and explore?
  • Last, but far from least: Where will I put all this stuff??? Yikes!
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