Vacation sketchbook tour and travel watercolor supplies

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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

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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

 

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Sketchbook portrait

Just popping in to share a fun sketchbook portrait I did while taking a break from some  commissions I have been working on.

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Portraits and figures still make me nervous. If the thought of drawing/painting something makes me nervous it is a sign I need to keep practicing it so I have been painting a lot of portraits and parts of the body to become more familiar with them.

Here is a picture of my latest portrait. I am always drawn to faces with twinkly eyes, lots of wrinkles and facial hair. Most of my charcoal portraits include at a least one of those features but usually two. I decided to practice painting wrinkles and facial hair in watercolor. It took some planning ahead of time to mask and look at the areas I wanted to preserve the highlights in.

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Overall, I am really pleased with how it turned out.

-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.

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Picture of a Pie on the night before pie day

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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A landscape sketch done in 2016
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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