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When the warm weather hits I do feel a certain pressure to get outside with sketchbook and easel. I like to work in the studio, so I manage to make a lot of excuses for why I can’t do this (bugs, heat, clouds, and temperature chief among them). Which is why cameras were invented, yes?

But there are fewer pleasures than capturing nature with pen, pencil, paper, and traditional media. For one thing, it’s quiet, peaceful, and the annoyances of email and phone calls fall by the wayside.

Recently I took a workshop with Jean McKay, a wonderful pen and watercolor artist who works primarily in sketchbook journals, capturing nature’s tiniest creatures.  Ever since seeing her creations in person, I have been careful not to squash moths and other tiny flying insects.

The second great aspect of sketching outdoors is that what you see is really different than what you can capture with a camera. Your own eye is just better able to discern the differences in value, and the finer aspects of colors.  Taking a photograph compresses and distorts the image.

And finally, it’s good plain good artistic practice to sketch from life. Being able to judge proportion, where a picture frame begins and ends, and drawing on the go trains the brain in a way that working from photographs cannot.

And so I venture outside….

sketchbook and paints

My sketching setup

sketchbook page

A page from my sketchbook



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