Today I’m going to talk about using your watercolour journal out in the field! It’s fun, I promise!!
I recently took a few days off to enjoy some time in the woods, near a lake and I decided it would be fun to do some sketching. So, today I’m going to talk about my tricks and tips for watercolour sketching when camping/cottaging/hiking.
Disclaimer: I am not even going to try and pretend that I’m any sort of expert at watercolour painting. This post isn’t about how to paint with watercolours, but rather, how to enjoy watercolour painting (and maybe even just sketching), in a handbound sketchbook while out in woods.
6 Tips for Watercolour Sketching In the Field:
6. Choose appropriate paints. For example, I use watercolour pencils, because they aren’t messy, are easy to transport and easy to use. Also, I like to use a refillable watercolour brush, the type where you fill the handle with water. I take a couple of them, pre-filled and I’m set for a day of sketching and painting! If you prefer pans/cakes of watercolour paint, consider getting one of those nifty little travel boxes with foldout trays, and put it in it’s own zip-top bag (no leaky paints!!).
5. Bug repellant. Pretty much assume that there will be bugs that want to bite. Mosquitos, black flies, etc. There are lots of repellants to choose from, do some research on what type of bugs will be at your destination, what types of repellant work best (and are most friendly to the environment and your health) and go from there. Trust me, it’ll be a much more enjoyable experience.
4. Waterproof everything, especially if canoeing is involved or rain is probable. This is simple though, no fancy equipment needed. Just put your sketchbook and paints (especially if you use pans/cakes of paint) in a tough, thick, freezer zip-top plastic bag. Also, if you keep this bag in an outside pocket of your backpack, then it’s really handy for quick-sketching! (Note that my ‘waterproof freezer bag’ makes an appearance in the photo above, it’s underneath the book as it had just rained and the moss on that rock was not quite dry)
3. Don’t be afraid to take your nice sketchbook. I took a full fabric watercolour journal (pictured above, and found online here) and am so glad I did. Not only was it tough enough to handle a few days of camping, but it looks really good on the coffee table after the trip. As long as you follow the previous tips and take the steps needed to protect against things that can damage any sketchbook (fancy or plain), then you should be fine.
2. Slow down, open your eyes, and look around. There are fascinating things everywhere in the woods, all sketch-worthy. For example, hiking one day I passed by a large rock with circular patterns on it and thought it was neat, but carried on. Someone else wanted to take a photo of a rare flower, so we stopped and I thought of the rock again. Going back and inspecting it more closely revealed it was some sort of moss or lichen, with teeny tiny trumpet-like flowers in ash grey. It looked like a beautiful underwater landscape!
1.Take your sketchbook with you everywhere on your camping/hiking trip. You never know when someone else might need to take a rest, or find a patch of wild raspberries and want to stop and pick some, giving you a chance to sketch the local flora and fauna; flowers, stone formations, rivers, lakes, trees, little forest critters, etc.
*Important: if you’re out in bear country just know that berries are bear food. Keep your eyes peeled and leave some for others (human and animal). And of course, know the rules and laws for the land you are hiking/camping, the poisonous plants of the area, local warnings, etc. I’m just sharing this info because I’m a girl guide forever: Be Prepared!!!
*To read more ‘Use Your Journal’ posts, go here for the latest list.