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Blue Spruce Nature Study

blue spruce drawing

©2017 Carolyn A Pappas, Blue Spruce (Picea pungens). Sepia ink and watercolor on 5 x 7 watercolor greeting card.


I found this little sprig and a couple of pine cones last March when I was taking a walk with my daughter. I painted in the shadows this time, which added a different element.

School will be wrapping up soon and I’m going to be glad to have a break. I’m already making a list of art plans for 2018—I’ll have a lot more time for artwork and I’m getting excited. During the winter, I’m planning to do more nature studies like this so I can work indoors from life.

Lost and Found Artwork, Part 1

My three week summer vacation went by way too fast and now I am back to school and pushing through my last semester. Although I did a lot of drawing on my vacation, I have gotten out of practice and don’t have a lot of work to show for it. I did find some artwork from 2016 that I never posted before. Here they are and thanks for visiting.

landscape sketch

©2016 Carolyn A Pappas, Windy Day (5/14/2016). Pen, watercolor and rubber stamping in large moleskine.

weeping katsuratree

©2016 Carolyn A Pappas, Under the Weeping Katsuratree. Pen and ink and watercolor wash on 5 x 7 inch greeting card.

watercolor garden sketch

©2016 Carolyn A Pappas, Watercolor Garden Sketch (December 2016). Watercolor in large moleskine.

Small Travel Break

mixed flower sketch

©2017 Carolyn A Pappas, Medley of Flowers at the Party (8/20/2017). Ink and watercolor in large moleskine.

mixed flower sketch

©2017 Carolyn A Pappas, Evening Sketching at the End of the Party (8/20/2017). Ink and watercolor in large moleskine.

I had a chance to travel to Pennsylvania for my childhood friend Gwenn’s engagement party (watch a cute video of her engagement story here). I haven’t been to visit for 10 years, so it was really nice to see a lot of people and places that I remember. I sketched a selection of flowers from the arrangements at the party in ink and added watercolor at home.

I read Austin Kleon’s Steal Like an Artist on the drive down to Pennsylvania and the followup Show Your Work! on the drive back to Massachusetts. I highly recommend both as they were quick, yet power-packed reads. There was more information in Steal Like an Artist that was new to me. I found myself using the highlight feature on my Kindle often as I was reading. Since I have gotten back home, various concepts from these books have often come to mind.

Free Fun Friday at Tower Hill Botanic Garden

green leaves sketch

©2017 Carolyn A Pappas, Green Leaves (7/28/2017). Waterproof ink and Inktense colored pencils in large moleskine.

leaves marker sketch

©2017 Carolyn A Pappas, Under the Meyer Lemon Tree (7/28/2017). Stabilo Point 88 pens in large moleskine.

At the end of July, I took a day off from my studies to go out sketching at Tower Hill’s Free Fun Friday event (free admission for the public). As a member, I had never attended this event in the past before because I can attend anytime, but this time I was supposed to meet someone from the CPSA for a day of sketching. Unfortunately, I did not realize that there would be so many people that that facility would have to close the gates because there was no more parking.

In the end, the meeting never took place, but I did get to do some sketching on my own. Many people (at least 50) can up to me and either watched over my shoulder or struck up a conversation about my art. Many people would find this kind of attention anxiety provoking, but I didn’t mind it. I actually found it rewarding to talk to the kids about keeping a sketchbook and I think many of them were really inspired. I did find that I didn’t get as much sketching done as I would like because of the interruptions. I also made some pretty mundane sketches. I tried out my new Derwent Inktense colored pencils and did some experimenting with Stabilo Point 88 markers, which are both fairly new to me.

While this was not the ideal situation for nature sketching, I think showing up at an event like this to sketch and hand out business cards would be a great marketing opportunity to try in the future.

One Year Ago Today: New Guinea Impatiens

new guinea impatiens drawing

©2016 Carolyn A Pappas, New Guinea Impatiens (8/4/2016). Colored pens, watercolor and rubber stamping in large moleskine.

This was a disjointed sketchbook page, as life got in the way as it often does. I remember going out into the back garden to sketch after a rough day at work due to short staffing. Midway through my drawing, the day caught up with me and I became so fatigued that I had to go inside to sleep. Two days later, I remembered my unfinished page and went out into the garden early in the morning to finish it off.

Sketchy Sketches

solstice sketch

©2017 Carolyn A Pappas, Solstice Garden Medley (6/21/2017). Ink and watercolor in large moleskine.

fountain sketch

©2017 Carolyn A Pappas, Pliny’s Fountain (7/1/2017). Ink and watercolor in large moleskine.

Dismiss thoughts of ‘good, bad, right, wrong, success, failure’ – be spontaneous. -Josh Goldberg

Even in my sketchbook, I tend to be very precise and make slow-going, detailed drawings. These two pages were exactly the opposite for a change. I drew the flowers while sitting on my front stoop and the fountain while sitting on a bench in the woods (getting bitten by mosquitoes).

Painting from Other People’s Travel Photos

mexican pond painting

©2017 Carolyn A Pappas, Exotic Swimming Hole. Ink, watercolor, and Inktense colored pencils, 7 x 5 inches.


A friend of mine took a trip to Mexico a few years ago and gave me permission to make a painting from one of his snapshots. I have been planning to make this little painting for ages now, but never got to it until now. I haven’t traveled in the past several years, but someday I would like to visit some beautiful locations and make some paintings like this in person.

I used a Pigma FB brush pen and went over it with juicy watercolor and some Inktense colored pencils. I removed all the people and buildings from the picture because I wanted a more peaceful and natural looking scene. This little painting was a lot of fun!

Small Scale Specimens Drawn from Life

I spent a lot of time making slow-paced drawings from life during the break between the spring and summer semesters. These two drawings were of some things I found on my daily walks with Cate. I realized first hand how my eyes have changed as I’ve grown older–they don’t accommodate so well to looking through a magnifying glass. I had to take multiple breaks to rest my eyes.

tree bark lichen sketch

©2017 Carolyn A Pappas, Tree Bark with Lichen (5/1/2017). Ink and watercolor in large moleskine.

crassula mucosa sketch

©2017 Carolyn A Pappas, Crassula mucosa (5/2/2017). Ink and watercolor in large moleskine.

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Minimalist Art Supplies

crocus watercolor sketch

©2017 Carolyn A Pappas, Crocus Vernus (5/12/2017). Watercolor and rubber stamps in large moleskine.

A few weeks ago I came across this blog post about how to implement a minimalist strategy with art and crafts supplies. Some of the author’s opinions are a little extreme and I prefer high quality materials even for sketchbook work. That said, so many people out there have a problem with collecting art supplies and she definitely has some good points. I also have realized how much I have veered off track from my minimalist roots. Going through nursing school is tough (I’m halfway done with the program!) and I have definitely used art supply purchases as a reward for getting through school in one piece.

At this point, I have plenty of interesting supplies to play with and I’m going to focus on using them to their full extent. The biggest thing that has helped me maintain control is to decline purchasing supplies that do not relate to my chosen media. Right now I only work in watercolor, pencil, and ink. Until I have a bigger studio space, I have decided not to pursue acrylic, pastel, oils, printmaking, etc. It’s not that I don’t have an interest in experimenting with other media; it’s more of a practical way to stay focused. For the rest of the year, I am going to make a concerted effort to stay out of art supply stores and use up what I have. I do have some new supplies that I have not finished experimenting with yet, so stay tuned for some future blog posts about those.

One Year Ago Today: Nothing to do but Relax

lake horizon sketch

©2016 Carolyn A Pappas, Slow Sketch (5/10/2016). Ink in large moleskine.

What is the good of your stars and trees, your sunrise and the wind, if they do not enter into our daily lives? -E. M. Forster

I’m looking back into my sketchbook from one year ago today. I made this little sketch while sitting on the wall by the shoreline looking out over the lake. The weather was very pleasant and I remember taking my time making the individual marks with the pen. On that day I had no commitments and nothing special to do. It was lovely.