069. Urban Sketching & The Fear of the Blank Page

Now that spring has sprung, I find myself giving up my snuggie and slippers for my sneakers and sunglasses. 

I grab my sketchbooks, pens, watercolor travel sets, and just go. 
Sometimes I don't know where I'm going, and I just walk until I find something that inspires me.

Sometimes I remember a cool building or sunny bench that I want to revisit.
The only constant is that I want to paint.

There is a huge difference in painting from a reference photo vs. painting from life. When you paint from a reference photo, everything is already flattened conveniently to a 2D surface that you can copy.

From life, your eye must decipher the depth, understand the shadows and highlights as the sun dances over the grass or through the tree limbs. This carries an added challenge, when you're trying to capture the scale, perspective, and colors of what you see! However, with just a little practice, it becomes much easier, and far more rewarding. 
In my previous post I shared my Plein Air sketchbook tour, and talked about how meaningful the experiences were when I was painting. 

Besides, there's nothing like a change in environment to get out of an artist block or a creative funk.

Time and time again, I find myself craving a good sketch/paint session, but have no clue what I want to make! So rather than fuss over it or overthink it, I simply GO! 
Seriously, I just throw everything in my bag and leave my house.
This creates momentum. That momentum steamrolls any of my doubts or fears, and from there, its no longer about "I feel like sketching but I don't want to ruin my sketchbook or I don't know what to paint" and it becomes "where can I sit and start sketching?"

It may seem so simple and obvious, but that is the difference between a stack of blank sketchbooks and ones full of stories, experiences, and adventures!

Plein air painting/urban sketching has become as much a part of my work flow as answering emails. 

Here's a little video from a recent sketch session at Inverness Castle. I hope you find it inspiring or at least you can catch a hint of some traditional scottish bagpipes in the distance :)

This weekend I'm headed out into the Scottish highlands for a camping trip!

I ordered a GoPro so I can eliminate the tedious and inefficient process of filming my plein air sketching with my phone. Hopefully it arrives in time so I can test it out this weekend. I'm definitely planning on bringing my sketchbook and paint!

068. Sketchbook Tour #1!

Howdy all! I am so excited to share this video, which is a sketchbook tour of my recently completed sketchbook! I started this Moleskin Watercolor Sketchbook in June, 2016.

I was JUST starting on my watercolor journey, so the first several pages of this sketchbook show my early learning process. I was not only painting in this sketchbook, I also did lots of work in my studio on nice watercolor paper. But I did take this out with me on my hiking and camping trips! So there are many special places captured in this sketchbook.

Many of you have been with me since I started my watercolor journey, and have seen me post photos of a lot of these on my Instagram. I post tons of sketches and such on there, so if you like that sort of thing, make sure you're following! 

066. From Blackout to Clarity

People who follow me on Twitch know that I recently went through a 5 day internet blackout.
I felt so helpless and frustrated, and by the end I was really starting to worry about my business. I could barely connect to a signal using my phone, but when I did, I saw that I had Etsy orders and commission emails coming in. That is usually super exciting, but I need internet to run my business!

5 days might not sound like a lot, but when you go from being connected 27/7 on Email, Twitch, Discord, Instagram, Twitter, Etsy, Patreon, YouTube, etc... to suddenly have no connection is a shock to the system. Day after day I had no answer or hope from my ISP that internet would return, so I was just drifting along doing my best to stay occupied.

The silver lining is that I had a lot of time to reflect.
120 hours is a long time. Subtract 40 for sleeping and I still had 80 hours to fill over those 5 days.

At first, time went slow and I was grasping at straws. Every time I got an idea for something to do, I remembered it required internet. So finally, I did what any artist would do.
I created.

Within those 5 days, I ended up painting both commissions and studies, as well as doing some hiking & plein air painting.
I also decided to record all of it. I had a light-bulb moment that I could use my internet-less time to make as much video content as possible for my new Art-centric YouTube channel! GAME ON!

I ended up making 4 videos during the last 5 days, catered specifically towards instruction/education and inspiration. I made them specifically for YouTube so that I could start to build a library of helpful content for viewers. It was actually really fun - and kind of addicting!

Here's an example:

I used my 5 days as practice for what will hopefully be a routine. Eventually I'd like to regularly produce 2 videos per week. Now that I have internet again, and I'm back to my regular routine and streaming, I have less time to produce videos, but I now have a good strategy for using my time efficiently, and a better idea of what it takes to make these videos. 

Upcoming videos:
- Watercolor Mountain - Narrated Time Lapse
- Medium Wars (Forest Scene) - comparing Watercolor/Gouache/Acrylic
- Plein Air Sketchbook Tour (Plus added narration/video of me painting in each location)

In addition, I've completely updated my Patreon Page, in order to better match my current and future artistic goals. The changes mean I'll be sending out less physical content each month, but providing more videos, process photos, and educational content more often, which is something people have been asking for.

Patreon is an amazing way for artists to support themselves, while offering exclusive content to their supporters. 

Checkout my new intro video!

So, what started out as a disaster and worryfest, ended up being a period of reflection, production, and clarity for my business and goals.

I feel so incredibly motivated and inspired!!