Watercolor of a tulip, loose and free

A watercolor sketch of a fading tulip by Wren M. Allen

Observational art doesn’t have to be tight and detailed! This loose, gestural watercolor sketch offers a strong impression of a dying tulip flower.

I painted this rough sketch of a fading tulip on Tuesday in Lisa Coddington’s class at Santa Fe Community College.

Loose, gestural painting is fun and relaxing, a nice break from the tight and tiny markmaking common to botanical illustration style.

I selected a limited palette for this watercolor: Winsor-Newton’s Permanent Magenta and Rose; Ultramarine Blue (W-N and Daniel Smith), Daniel Smith’s Hansa Yellow Light, and a few touches of Holbein’s Opera and Alizarin Crimson.

Fortunately, I took a few snaps on my phone, so I can have the option to work with this faded beauty in a more detailed fashion at a later date.

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?

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