Vacation sketchbook tour and travel watercolor supplies

31949412_10157374614337892_6235730624695500800_n

Here is a video of what supplies I took with my on my hiking and biking trip to Moab. For this trip I approached my sketches as a form of journaling. Most of the paintings represent something we did or saw that day. I didn’t paint on the back side of the paintings so I could use it as a spot to journal about what we did, saw, and funny things my kids did.

These illustrations are very simple as they were painted while my kids were eating lunch, while riding in the car, etc. I tried to mostly capture the mood and lighting more than the detail.

 

I’m sorry my voice is so scratchy in this video allergy season has hit.

 

Here is a list of the art supplies I took on this trip.

*Sakura Koi Watercolors Pocket Field Sketch Box Sets

*Global Art Hand book Artist Journals

*Pentel Aquash Water Brush

*Sharpie Pens

Bic Mechanical Pencil

31914353_10157374614287892_1959291053106266112_n

I am really excited with how this sketchbook journal experience came out and I hope to do this kind of sketchbook work more often. I think it adds a more personal touch to what I am creating and allows me to soak in those memories a little more.

-Lauren

 

***All links marked with a * are affiliate links. I earn a small commission when you use these links that help support my channel. I only link products that I regularly use and recommend.

The Benefits of Creating

I was recently reading an article that talked about the benefits of being creative. It was using the term crafting but I believe it can be applied to any creative/artist endeavor where we create something ourselves. It talked about how it can be a form of meditation and can help those who suffer from anxiety and depression.  This is something that I have seen in my own life. If you are new around here you might not know that I started painting and drawing again after a seven year break. It was at a point in my life when I was feeling burned out from the demands of motherhood and my husband in being in medical school. I had also just found out that my husband was going to be out of state for 6 months that year.

I am so grateful I started painting again at that time in my life because it gave me a way to take care of myself that I could do almost anytime. I would wake up early and stay up late so I could have sometime to escape from the stress of it all and just focus on how to mix paint and put it on the paper. I think the main reason I was able to make it though that year was because I had art to keep me balanced.

What about you? Has being creative helped you cope with stress? Let me know in the comments below.

-Lauren

 

 

 

Vacation Sketches

If you have read some on my recent posts you know that I have been traveling. I recently just got back from a family vacation where we visited our extended family. Typically, when I go on family vacations I am not very good at taking time to sketch in my sketchbook regularly. After a day of wrangling kids and traveling I usually just pass out as soon as I sit down. Often I end up only painting one-maybe two sketches.

29425076_10157233256977892_7332255759847129088_n
Picture of a Pie on the night before pie day

29357091_10157233256992892_7130034474619764736_n

This trip I decided to try and take time to paint and draw everyday except traveling days.  Overall, I did pretty good. Some days I only got 10 minutes to paint other days I would sit down for a couple of hours to do it while we watched a movie. When I had longer amounts of times to work I would try to do multiple sketches and not spend more than 30 minutes on each piece. There were a few days that I ended up skipping because they were just way to busy like the day we went skiing.

29176727_10157212311542892_8935268495382282240_n
A kid free ski day is worth skipping out on sketching for

The sketches are far from perfect but I am hoping that sketching and painting these quick pieces will help me gain more confidence and speed in my painting and drawing process.

29357011_10157233257157892_2296531305367601152_n
My daughter wanted me to paint a castle
29468778_10157233257177892_2865788315183874048_n
This sketch was done on loose watercolor paper and then was glued into my sketchbook

29366156_10157233257252892_6104758706560303104_n

With the mushroom paintings I tried experimenting with different styles of painting. The top one I wanted a softer look so I kept the contrast and lines a lot softer. Whereas the bottom one has a lot stronger contrast between lights and darks, pen and ink details, and more texture in the painting style.

29356787_10157233257302892_7792743130914095104_n.jpg
My moms tulips were starting to pop through the snow but hadn’t bloomed yet so I decided to paint a bloomed one.

Now to unpack and get back to work on bigger projects!

-Lauren

Vacation Art Supplies.

Hi Guys! Today, I am showing you some of the art supplies I am taking with me on my vacation this week. This isn’t my most compact set up because I will mostly be painting while hanging out with family instead of plein air painting. When there is several feet of snow on the ground and the temperature is below zero plein air painting isn’t very appealing.

I am taking my Gouache pallet. This is filled up with mostly M. graham Gouache and a few Windsor and Newton colors. I chose gouache because I could choose to work in thin light washes similar to watercolor or chose to paint more opaque. I really liked the versatility that this provides.

My sketchbook is a Global arts watercolor sketchbook in the 8.25×5.5” size. The paper in this sketchbook handles watercolors well and is also nice to draw on. It’s a good size where it doesn’t take up to much room in a bag but still gives me enough space to draw and add detail.

I will also be bringing a small spray bottle for wetting my pallet, a few sheets of loose watercolor paper , an assortment of white taklon brushes, a pentel brush pen, a fine point sharpie, a Pentel sign pen (waterproof ink), a number 2 pencil, a 6B graphite pencil, white rubber eraser, and a pencil sharpener. For this trip I am also taking a cleaned out ice cream container with a screw on lid to use as my water cup. You might wonder why I am bringing it if I am going to be painting at people’s houses. It’s because not everyone has disposable plastic cups available to use and I don’t want to use a container that will be reused to for eating like a cup or mason jar.

Another art related supply I will be bringing is my 360 happy planner. I will be bringing this to work on schedule and plan upcoming projects for my shop and YouTube. I found 5+ hour road trips are great opportunity to brainstorm and plan.

Do you have any favorite art pallets or art supplies that you take with you on vacation? Let me know in the comments below.

-Lauren

Learning A New Medium

If you have been following my art journey for very long you know that the majority of the time I tend to paint in watercolor. Watercolor is a very translucent medium, this means that when you paint over an area you can see all the layers that are underneath it. When mixing colors in watercolor you add water to make them lighter and rely on the white of the paper instead of adding white to make the tint. This is part of the reason why working with watercolor is very different from all other types of paints. The way you mix colors and layer them has to happen in a unique way.

28871062_10157191758292892_8753751263214043136_o
Two eye study using gouache. I had difficulty making smooth blends on this piece.

Well I recently decided to learn a new medium called gouache. It’s a type of opaque watercolor, which acts like a cross between watercolor and acrylic paint. I originally bought some gouache to work on the Family Legends painting but I got frustrated working with it and ended up doing the using tinted ink in the sections I had planed on using the gouache for.

28167176_10157133888147892_1349738359135952365_n
First paintings using only Gouache

After that the paints sat on my shelf unused while I caught up on the holiday rush of commissions.I hate when good paint go unused especially, when I spent good money on them. I also knew that that my struggles with the paint was 100% user error given that I bought a highly recommended artist grade paint and had seen beautiful artwork created with it.

So after the rush of Christmas and later Valentines Day calmed down I spent time learning how to use gouache. I watched YouTube videos teaching how it works and how to mix it. Those videos really helped me understand why I was struggling with it and how to work around those issues. I realized my biggest issue was that I was using the wrong kind of white for mixing. I was using titanium white for mixing and given that its so opaque It would quickly make my colors to light and dull. I also had to be even more cautious of how wet my paintbrush was so I wouldn’t disturb the paint underneath. I typically work with staining watercolors and can usually add lots of water to my paper without disturbing the paint underneath. Another thing I learned about paintbrushes and gouache is that even though it is a cousin to watercolor it tends to work better with a slightly stiffer brush than what you typically use for watercolor. This helps to prevent too much water from getting on your brush and it allows you to more easily mix the paint.

28685753_10157191758247892_1393257935936684032_n
A profile study I did that I wanted to keep loose

Once getting used to the unique characteristics of the gouache I learned to enjoy working with it and what I love about it. I found it so freeing being able to add highlights over the top of a dark instead of constantly stressing about preserving the highlights. I love how it rewets so I can easily take a small pallet with me when I am in public and do some plein air and urban painting.

28872964_10157191758402892_2964074759102398464_n
My goal with this painting was to see how realistic I could get the Gouache.

I can’t wait to learn and experiment more with this medium especially with portraiture and figures.

28872624_10157191758267892_4657088487080591360_n
A 20 minute landscape study using gouache

-Lauren

Sketchbook Tour

One of my new years resolutions has been to get better at regularly drawing in a sketchbook. I often get so busy with commissions and projects that I don’t always have time to work on personal projects or try new techniques. I am hoping that by drawing and painting in a sketchbook regularly will not only improve my skill but also give me a few minutes each day to paint and create something just for the pleasure of creating. As much as I love doing commission (it’s the best job I could have) I need to spend some time creating pieces of work that are personally motivated so I don’t get burned out.

 

I have owned many sketchbooks over the years and have never actually finished one. I didn’t like having “ugly drawings” stuck in my sketchbook so I would either rip out pages I didn’t like or just hold off from drawing in my sketchbook until I got better as an artist. I think part of me was ashamed of my skill level for not being “good enough.’ It is kind of silly to think about now as a (slightly) more mature artist because the entire purpose of a sketchbook is for it to be a safe place to practice, experiment, and grow as as an artist.

Setting this goal for the year has helped me to FINALLY finish my first sketchbook. It’s far from perfect since I bought it a few months after I got back in to art in 2016. Some sketches have been torn out because I didn’t like them or used them for other projects. But  I finally completed the pages that are remaining.

It may seem silly to celebrate such a small and silly thing but when trying to develop a new habit it is always important to celebrate the milestones along the way. It is also a sign of my personal growth as I am now more accepting of my shortcomings as an artist. I always want to improve my skill level but I am no longer ashamed of my journey as an artist.

28685325_10157191700257892_6277344923603697664_n
A landscape sketch done in 2016
28795184_10157191700317892_532653997144670208_n
A landscape sketch done in 2018

Another benefit of using a sketch book (and not tearing out the pages) is that I have also been able to see how much I have grown over the years as an artist. Being able to see tangible proof of my progress is so helpful on days when I feel discouraged.

What about you? Do you like using sketchbooks?

-Lauren

Being Brave and Growing Past Self Doubt

“You can, you should, and if your brave enough to start, you will”

-Stephen King

 

This quote summarizes my relationship with art. I have always loved crafting, drawing, painting, and creating. My spirit thrives on creativity. I wanted to be an artist from the time I was a little kid but self doubt and fear crept in to my mind and held me back.

I saw my friend’s artwork and felt inadequate. I didn’t feel talented enough to actually become a professional artist and worried I would become the “starving artist” I so often heard talked about. Fear of failure caused me to turn down opportunities and go down a different path.

I still created but I stayed in my “safe zone” by limiting myself to doing crafting things like scrapbooking and card making. I could create within those boundaries without feeling self -conscious when other people looked at my work. If I was only giving it to family and friends I wouldn’t feel as self conscious about whether they liked it or not.

As I got older I started caring less about what people thought of me and started pushing myself outside my comfort zone. It started with selling cards and tags online no longer limiting myself to family. Then it turned into designing the cards and tags from scratch while avoiding predesigned elements like stamps or die cutters. The more I infused my genuine creative self into my creations the more successful my business became. Then I decided to push myself further by entering a 30 day drawing/art challenge in an effort to develop my drawing skills. I started it with the initial idea that it would help me design my own unique line of cards and tags.

To hold myself accountable and let go of fear I decided to share what I was drawing on social media. I fell back in love with drawing and to my surprise strangers loved what I was creating. People I had never met started buying my artwork so I kept working at developing my skills as a fine artist. Painting and drawing took so much of my time that I ended up having to change the direction I took my business. I eventually stopped selling handmade stationary and focused all my free time to art.

12715319_10154556657272892_5364854036484458296_n
First Day of the 30 day art challenge
12717423_10154556659602892_8100990793885627960_n
Day 10 of the 30 day art challenge

 

28279063_10157159774732892_1180143284019279543_n
Day 30 of the art challenge

If I hadn’t had those moments of bravery where I put myself outside my comfort zone I would still be wishing I were an artist instead of actually being one. I have not only grown as an artist but as person. I have learned to be brave and to push myself outside of my comfort zone because that is where I have the opportunity to experience a life I never thought possible. I have also learned to worry less about what other people think because in the end it doesn’t really matter. What matters most is being my genuine self and realizing what I do and create is important. Yes, other artists may draw or paint better than I do but that doesn’t undermine what I am creating.

13511946_10154969429777892_3653898324518811459_n
First Charcoal portrait
Tom Petty - Charcoal
Charcoal Portrait of Tom Petty

When self doubt starts to creep back into my mind and threatens to paralyze my growth I remind myself of all the wonderful experiences Ive had because I didn’t let fear hold me back. Besides if there is anything I would like to do better the only way I am going to improve at it is by practicing.

-Lauren

 

Family Legend Painting

In the late fall of 2016 on of  my old coworkers contacted me to see if I would be willing or even able to do a really complex and personal idea for a painting.

She told me about how her father would make up folk stories to tell his children while on family road trips. As he started telling these legends he started to give his children symbolic names related to their personality and would use them as the characters in the stories. These stories became an important family tradition and every new family member added through birth or marriage received a new name that was woven in to the family legends.

Her painting idea was to have a realistic nature painting that incorporated all 23 names in a cohesive manner. Some of the names like “Bear”, “Cascading Falls”, and “Many Bends In River” were pretty straightforward in what they could be represented by in the painting. Other names were more abstract like “Sky Writer” and “Secret Whisperer” which required me to come up with something that would accurately represent each person and why they were given that name. Another challenge was that although some of the names had a straightforward visual representations connected to them they were difficult to incorporate into the picture in a cohesive manner and had to be modified.

As you can imagine that with complex nature of this painting it was going to take a while to figure how to represent the each name, how to balance the layout, find reference photos for each item, and paint it in a manner that made it look like a unified painting and not like elements were just copy and pasted together. I had to spend a day just figuring out how I was going to do the lighting on the painting because the painting had a lot of back lighting from a sunset that was in the painting to incorporate the name “Sunset Cruiser”. I had to figure out how the back lighting would affect each element in the picture because more often than not my reference photo wasn’t a picture with back lighting. I also couldn’t let the backlighting from the sunset cause too much silhouetting and darkening of the foreground because all the name elements in the foreground still needed to be prominent.

This took months of back and fourth brainstorming with my friend, moving states for me (and countries on her part), adding more names (their family is still growing), and learning various watercolor techniques I knew I would need to paint this project. I was finally able to complete the painting in the fall of 2017.

23336506_10156782642002892_220175549_o

This painting stretched me as an artist and pushed me outside my comfort zone in every way. For a while I had a lot of anxiety when I thought about this painting. Some of the anxiety was because I knew I needed to develop my skills as a watercolorist before I would be able to paint it well. But most of my anxiety and fear came because  I knew how much this painting meant to the family that commissioned it and I didn’t want to disappoint them. Thankfully, with a lot of prayer, practice, and time to work on this painting we ended up with a finished product that we were all happy with.

The family was able to give it to their dad for christmas and later told me the painting brought tears to his eyes. That is the greatest compliment I can be given about my work. I want the art I create to bring feelings of love, joy, happiness, and peace and its thrilling when I succeed.

-Lauren

 

 

Path By The Seaside: Beginner Pastel Tutorial

I have some big pastel commissions coming up so to help switch my mind from watercolor to soft pastels I have been doing some smaller pastel paintings. I figured it would turn this little painting into a tutorial for those who interested in learning how to paint and draw with pastels.

With it being in middle of winter here in Montana I wanted to paint something warm and sunny. I found my reference photo on pixabay.

aberdeen-1573614_1920

Before I start any pastel painting I look at my reference photo and I pick out the pastels I am going to use to paint it. This just helps me stay in the zone when painting because Im not constantly stopping to sort through hundreds of pastels deciding which ones I want.

When picking out pastels I make sure to grab some harder pastels like the pastel pencils and Nupastels from Prismacolor along with the softer ones. The harder pastels are great for the base layers of the painting because they don’t fill in the tooth of the paper as easily. With this painting being  fairly simple and smaller in size I knew I wasn’t going to be doing as many layers as normal so I didn’t grab any of my super soft pastels like my Sennelier or Schmincke . The softest pastels I used for this were Jack Richeson pastels which I find to be about medium softness.

Another thing I do when gathering my pastels is to  grab several values of each color. Pastels aren’t like watercolor where you can just add water to it to make it lighter or more paint to make it darker. You need to make sure you have a variety of values in each color. These are the colors I picked for my pastel painting and when I was painting I ended up needed more darker tones. I will show you in the video how I worked around that but if you decide to do this painting I would pick some darker cool blues, greens, and violets.

26993536_10157054586507892_1498258062512037700_n

After selecting my pastels I gathered the rest of my supplies.

71JNDAMy7SL._SL1500_

For this piece I used 6×11 inch UArt sanded paper in 600 grit. I really love Uart paper because it can take a lot of layers really well. It is also easy to tone the paper yourself using watercolor or with pastels and rubbing alcohol (which is my preferred method).

26993259_10157054586522892_4700846170059305809_n

Some other tools I used with my painting include some old paint brushes and rubbing alcohol for the underpainting. The Ink is for blocking in the darks of the painting. I like to use rubber shapers and plastic pallet knives for blending the pastels. For this piece I only used the rubber shaper with the rounded tip which i found really helpful in shaping the clouds. Not pictured is a T Ruler that I used to draw my horizon line with.

Here is the complete list of supplies and tools I used and links so you can look into them in more detail:

Stabilo CarbOthello Pastel Pencil https://goo.gl/qgq9ew

Jack Richeson Soft Pastels https://goo.gl/kPCgvn

NuPastels https://goo.gl/Bf3aBV

Dr Ph Martins Bombay Inks https://goo.gl/sJvcui

Uart Sanded Paper https://goo.gl/2Uf46y

Krylon Workable fixative https://goo.gl/aKKaVn

Rubber shaper https://goo.gl/rhDSEk

Plastic Pallet Knives https://goo.gl/nskzKU

Oil brush https://goo.gl/t2SVof

White Taklon Brush https://goo.gl/oNrgWj

T-Ruler https://goo.gl/GZRy1v

(Affiliate Links)

I hope you learn some new skills from watching this tutorial. If you have any questions feel free to leave them in the comments below.

-Lauren

Superhero Portrait

My Last commission of the 2017 was of a little boy dressed as his favorite superhero, Henry Danger.

The idea of this painting was so fun that I was willing to push myself outside of my comfort zone to do it. I am a not very comfortable with painting portraits in watercolor. In fact it had been well over a year since I had painted any and they were all mixed media pieces. Meaning I only used watercolor for the base layers of the face and then added details with markers and colored pencils.

Thankfully, my skills with watercolor in general have improved greatly over the past year. My ability to mix colors, glaze, and control the brush have improved with my daily practice. These skills are a must when doing a portrait. Color mixing is particularly important when making skin tones because it is really easy to make skin look murky or too orange. Because I was in such unfamiliar territory with this painting I scheduled myself plenty of time so i could do multiple practice pieces if needed. Thankfully, As I worked on the first practice piece my fears of doing a portrait immediately subsided because it was coming to me so much more easily than the last time I had painted one.

I still have a long way to go in developing my skills in portraiture to where i want them to be but I am proud of how far I have come.

This painting brought back memories of my years babysitting three little boys and the superhero games we would play. We would often dress up as superheroes and run around the house, pretending to save the day. We would even pretend to fly by jumping from one beanbag to the other.

470_47393672891_1904_n
A snapshot from my babysitting days.

Kids are so magical with their imaginations, self-confidence, and energy. It was fun creating a painting that perfectly embodied the imagination of this little boy.

-Lauren

super hero painting