I love working outside. I try to get out in nature to sketch as often as I can (though with our new pup it’s been a little harder to get away recently! ) and I’ve been meaning to check out our local botanical gardens (Matthaei Botanical Gardens) so I thought I might head over there for an afternoon.
When I’m doing little day trips like this I try not to go overboard on bringing supplies and just keep it to what I can carry in one hand + backpack. Especially if I want to walk any trails; carting a lot of paint around can be sloshy, heavy and potentially very, very messy.
Here’s what I’m bringing today;
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3.) 4 x 12 Watercolor sketchbook
4.) 9 x 12 Watercolor sketchbook
I bring multiple sizes of paper and sketchbooks so I can work quickly, moving from page to page as the previous one dries.
5.) Empty water containers x2 (recycled from Sunbasket delivery)
On little outdoor adventures like this, I don’t bring any liquid paint. Just the watersoluble graphite and pastels, which apply dry and when water is added they become watercolor-esque.
1.) Caftan throw (for sitting on, or shielding from sun)
I ADORE these earphones. I talk a bit more about them on my instagram story, but these have been a staple in my bag for the last few months. I always forget to plug in blue tooth headphones, resulting in dead batteries and no music. I’ve had to plug these in twice since getting them and they are still full battery. Small and super comfortable to wear, they go with me everywhere now. AND! If you want to try a pair for yourself, use code: ellenthelemon to get 15% off your order!
I walked for a bit before I found an area a little ways off the trail, with some shade (because I burn SO fast…) and some grass to lay out drying work.
I like to sit in the space for a few minutes first, take in the smells, sounds and try to connect with the moments I want to sketch. For today I mostly focused on the reflections in the water, the ripples made by passing turtles and the way the sunlight sparked along the edges of the pond.
First I made a few color swatches, mixing and matching the water-soluble pastels to align with the colors of the pond. A note here - try not to let the pastels be in full sun for long, they tend to get soft and can break easily. I usually pull out a few to work with, then put them back in their tin inside my bag, rotating through so none get too damaged by the heat.
I use my headphones outside to keep me focused, but I don’t play loud music. I love to hear the birds, the frogs in the water, the sound of the wind in the trees - but could do without the noise from the parking lot. When I’m working outside I play the same thing on repeat; just loud enough to direct my thoughts but quiet enough to still hear nature. Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (just the peaceful songs, I made a playlist without the fight tracks) is my old faithful.
I made a few more sketches, a few more contour studies and then packed up for the afternoon and headed home.
I wanted to make it over to the conservatory - but that will have to wait, it’s time to walk the pup <3
What about you? What do you bring with you when working outside? Anything I should try?