Sketching in the Field

I love days like this: when I go out in the cold and roam through the woods and fields, sketchbook in hand; hopeful. Sometimes I come back with nothing to show. But then there are days like today, when I’ve almost given up, but decide to double back. I head down a new path, find something that strikes me, and begin. Then, I am reminded of how good it is to look, and of how much I like being outside with a pen in hand.

Tips and Techniques– If you are going to sketch outside in winter, I suggest using it as an opportunity to practice sketching directly in pen. Don’t worry about being too precise; put pen to paper and keep it moving. I start by staring at my subject and getting in a focused zone where I’m just looking at the lines and shapes, darks and lights. I work light and loose, trusting what I see more than what I put on the page. Soon, the shapes pull together into recognizable objects. Today, I made a mental note of color, but sometimes a quick photo will provide adequate reference for adding color back at home.

12 Comments on “Sketching in the Field

  1. I feel as if I were right out there with you. Love watching the crows flying from roost to field and back. Beautiful sketch.

    • HI Dory- I prefer a Micron 02, black. It works well even in the cold. It’s thin enough so that it doesn’t overwhelm the watercolor. I also use the Micron 005 for a very fine line. Cheers!

  2. Lovely. Close observation and skill take an unpromising winter tangle and make it beautiful.
    I always enjoy your sketches.

    • Thanks Debra. I like the way the leaves curl and the ingenious way that insects have of ensuring the survival of the next generation. There are so many galls in our field!

  3. Hi Jean,I worry about ticks, do you? Do you just wear tall boots? Love your sketches,Desiree

    • Ticks are out there, less so in winter, but I do check once I come in. I wear Wellies if its wet. I can’t really get out into the field in summer because it’s so thick and there is no trail. Still, I’ve gotten ticks just in the backyard, so checking seems safest to me.

  4. I’m very impressed that you sketched in that cold, Jean. These shapes seem to be about to fly off the page, in a good way. I love the “bad hair day” look of them, and everything is beautifully arranged on the page. These are the days when I’m forcing myself out often enough, but once I get out, I too always find interesting things to look at. And surprises. Today there was a Pine siskin eating a piece of seaweed on a rocky beach – who would have thought? But I guess he wanted his greens, too. 🙂

  5. This is lovely and a timely reminder that even in these short winter days there are always interesting things to look at if we only take the time. There is something very elegant about decaying things. Once the festivities are over I’ll be out looking. Thank you.

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