Recording Summer


I was an art teacher for 20 years, so I always considered summer as the time when I could “catch up” on my art making. I couldn’t wait for my schedule to be free so I could start drawing again. Now that I’m working full time as an artist, I draw with more frequency, but I’m still habituated to the arty pull of summer.

I like to record my travels as I am inspired by my surroundings. Sometimes these drawings are quick sketches, with impressions that are grabbed quickly to preserve a memory, color or thought.

Colosseum drawing, Ancona, and gelato

The Colosseum, the coastline of Ancona, and an empty gelato cup from a trip to Italy in 2011 demonstrate on-the-fly sketches I might collect.

Other times, I rework or create new drawings or paintings back in the studio after collecting sketches and photos. These entries are more complete impressions of my surroundings where I incorporate objects, scenes, and details to capture what has seeped in during my visit. Like with the quick sketches, colors, objects, and landmarks dominate the work resulting in a portrait of the place I visited.

St. Francis, Ganesh, and a wildfire

Top: My homage to Georgia O’Keefe after visiting her home and studio in Taos, New Mexico. Bottom: St. Francis and Ganesh were both images I encountered in the mountains of Santa Fe. I was there in 2013 while a large wildfire raged on the mountain.

I rarely leave the house without a means to record the world around me. I wrote a post about what to include in your portable studio, which you can see here.  I find that having a sketchbook is a great alternative to staring at your screen in the airport or on long car rides. The drawings don’t have to be perfect, just a sincere effort at recording your impressions. You don’t have to travel far to find something to put in your sketchbook, either.

Watercolor landscape sketch

The perfect spot to draw. This small beach is just down the street from my house.

After all, as an artist, it is your duty to find the beauty in the seemingly mundane things around you, to find the extraordinary in the ordinary. I’ve drawn things ranging from other travelers to my kitchen serving bowls. I even spent one summer drawing the salt shakers in restaurants in which I was dining. You’d be surprised at the variety!

I hope you are inspired in your own way to record a memory this summer. Happy art, everybody!

17 responses »

  1. Pingback: Thanks for the Compliment! | Art Is Not For Sissies

  2. I am so happy for you! Now that you can be (and are) an artist full time, do you find it hard to schedule your time? I would think once I retire I’d be like popcorn exploding — in all directions at one time. I enjoy your work and look forward to more.

    • Thanks! It is amazing to spend my time making art. It is also difficult to schedule my time, that is, making art the priority. It’s so easy to be distracted by other responsibilities, so I have to treat the art making like any other appointment I make, or job that I take, and stick to my studio time. I am more and less successful with this depending on the day!

  3. Pingback: Dog Friends | Art Is Not For Sissies

  4. I’ve just started doing some sketching/drawing again (what’s the difference!) after a long break, and I found your lovely blog. I hope to be inspired by some of your lovely work. My blog is really about our travels on a yacht, but I might post some sketches if I’m brave enough…

    • Thanks so much for your kind words. It means a lot that you found a tidbit of inspiration from my blog. Your yacht travels sound amazing. I hope you post some drawings!

  5. I really enjoyed reading and looking at your post. It’s really a good idea to have a sketch book with you wherever you go. Even in the airport you could draw people waiting. I would really like to see your salt shakers. That’s a good idea.
    I have a favorite German illustrator called Horst Janssen. He even drew half rotten work gloves and it was a fantastic work. Keep it up.

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