Category: Mixed Media Work

tulip sketch

I’m getting back into the swing of art after taking a much needed break.

I’ve recently started reviving from a serious artistic funk in which I haven’t had the inclination or desire to engage in any sort of art at all. I didn’t even want to look at other people’s art, check Instagram, look for “inspiration” online, or anything similar.

I’ve never really experienced anything like this in the past. I wasn’t feeling depressed or anything of the sort, but I do think that I shifted focus to other areas of my life that were more immediately pressing (finances, etc.). I considered pushing on and continuing to work despite feeling very averse to the idea. The advice of many established artists is to “show up and do the work” and so forth. Instead, I truly felt like I just needed to rest my brain and to do nothing.

Now that things have quieted down a bit, I am focusing more on my art again. This time though, I am interested in expanding beyond floral art (not eliminating it entirely, of course). Throughout school and in the months following, I was drawn to florals because they made me happy and it was a subject matter that felt comfortable and easy to me. Now, I’m wanting to branch out and tackle some other subjects (other aspects of botany, rocks, and landscapes). I’m also working on some sewing projects and I’m imagining how I can incorporate sewing and embroidery into my art.

Cathy Johnson recently discussed her recent “dry spell.” I always like to read about how other artists deal with their creative ebbs and flows and it also makes me feel a little less uncomfortable with the whole process.

The following images are some of the pieces I painted in the last several months. Stay tuned for some new work in my next update.

tulip sketch
©2018 Carolyn A Pappas, Discarded Tulips Sketch (5/13/2018). Pen and ink and watercolor in large moleskine.

pansy watercolor
©2018 Carolyn A Pappas, Pansy. Watercolor and rubberstamping, 5 x 5 inches.

pen and ink watercolor flower sketch
©2018 Carolyn A Pappas, Greenery (5/21/2018). Ink and watercolor in large moleskine.

pen and ink succulents
©2018 Carolyn A Pappas, US Botanic Garden (Feb 2018). Ink and watercolor in large moleskine.

pen and ink mountain sketch

Explorers’ Sketchbooks

Although I have taken some memorable trips in the past, I am more of a homebody and prefer the comfort of my familiar environment. I do love to read travelogues and travel vicariously through other people’s photos though.

I recently found the book Explorers’ Sketchbooks: The Art of Discovery & Adventure by husband and wife Huw Lewis-Jones and Kari Hebert. It is a thick book (320 pages) and features photos of artists and sketchbook spreads from 70 different explorers’ sketchbooks, logs, and nature journals.

I haven’t had a chance to read all of the profiles yet, but I’ve been enjoying myself by reading one or two essays at a time in spare moments. I really like how there is a mix or photographs showing the book in its entirety (tattered pages, crumbling spine, etc.) as well as details of individual drawings and photos/drawings of the artists themselves. Another thing I appreciate is that the featured sketchbooks are from modern day explorers as well as those from the more distant past. Although many of the sketchbook pages shown are beautifully illustrated, there are also some utilitarian pages included with lists of figures, diagrams and penciled in comments.

I think my favorite sketchbook so far is from Edward Norton. He had some majestic mountain landscapes featured, as well as closeup studies of plants. His quote below reminds me of something that a modern day plein air sketcher would say.

“I sketched feverishly, my water freezing as fast as I put it on the paper, as also my fingers.” -Edward Norton (1884-1954)

Clearly this book was on my mind when I came across some of my late great uncle’s photographs while organizing through my reference photos on the computer recently. I couldn’t resist making an ink and watercolor interpretation of this mountain scene as if I were on location. Unfortunately, my uncle didn’t label or organize any of his photos so it is a mystery as to where he was when he took the photo.

If you can recognize this scene, or can suggest any similar books featuring the inside of sketchbooks, please leave me a comment below.

pen and ink mountain sketch
©2018 Carolyn A Pappas, Exploring (4/6/2018). Noodler’s Luxury Blue and Lexington Gray ink and watercolor wash in large moleskine.
nature sketching

Review: Pentel Arts Hybrid Technica Pen

I recently came back from a trip to Washington, DC where I got to visit a Blick store. While I was there, I got some new pens, including the Pentel Arts Hybrid Technica Pen. This is a gel pen with a metal tip and acid-free, archival, water and fade resistant ink. It comes in five sizes, from 0.3 mm to 0.8 mm. I got the 0.3 mm size to try out because I usually go for the finest lines. Below is a nature study I did in my Moleskine watercolor sketchbook using this pen.

forest lily drawing
©2018 Carolyn A Pappas, Forest Lily. Ink and watercolor in watercolor moleskine.

I really like this pen for the following reasons:

  • It is smooth, even on coldpress watercolor paper. I didn’t notice any skipping, ink globs, or smearing. Reviewers on the Blick website noted some issues with globbing with the larger sizes.
  • The ink is very black and the side of the pen is clear so you can easily see how much ink is left.
  • Unlike felt tip fineliners where the nib tends to relax and get larger over time, the Pentel Arts Hybrid Technica has a tungsten carbide roller ball for a consistent line.

Things about this pen that I wish were different are:

  • I wish the ink were waterproof and not just water resistant. When I used watercolor over my drawing, the bleeding was minimal, but somewhat unpredictable as some areas bled more than others.
  • I wish this pen came in other colors besides just black. I would especially like a brown or sepia colored ink.
  • I wish refills were available instead of the whole pen being disposable.

Overall, this is a great pen and perfect for throwing into my purse when I don’t want to have to worry about making sure my fountain pen is freshly inked up. I’m thinking of buying a few more in the 0.3 mm size as well as trying out some of the larger sizes.

nature sketching
©2018 Carolyn A Pappas, Forest Lily in Progress. Ink in watercolor moleskine.
tree drawing sketch

Trees on my mind

I’ve been doing a lot of drawing, painting, thinking, and planning lately (as well as studying). My mind has been drifting to trees lately: the trunks, branches, and leaves that appear in my sketchbooks, but also the deep roots below. Scientists have found that there is much more going on underground than originally thought (Read: Trees communicate via their own fungi-based “internet”).

tree sketch
©2017 Carolyn A Pappas, Climbing Vines (4/19/2017). Ink and watercolor in large moleskine.

When I think of trees, I think of wisdom, strength, and stability. I’ve never had successful New Year’s resolutions in the past, but this year (probably because I am starting a new season after graduation) I really feel like I am starting my life over with a fresh start. I have been thinking of my priorities, and the things I really want to get done. I’ve also been focusing on my health, taking control of stress, and finding ways to incorporate minimalism into my life (Read: Go Deeper, Not Wider).

I’ve been enjoying spending time in my sketchbooks more than ever. Instead of being a task to check off my list, artmaking has become much more of a pleasure than it has been in a long time. I know that this feeling will not last forever, but I’m really loving it for the time being!

pine needles drawing
©2018 Carolyn A Pappas, Winter Debris. Ink and watercolor on a blank note card, 12.4 x 8.9 cm.

The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. Psalm 92:12-13

tree drawing sketch
©2018 Carolyn A Pappas, Tree Branches (1/15/2018). Platinum Carbon Ink and watercolor in large watercolor moleskine.

For more tree goodness, check out Terri Windling’s blog posts on trees. She writes so poetically, and the photos of her forest are so magical. Be sure to hover over each photo for poetry and quotes.

gnome art

Gnome in the Woods

gnome art
©2017 Carolyn A Pappas, Gnome in the Woods. Ink and watercolor, 4.5 x 5.75 inches.

This is a small pen and ink and watercolor that I did last winter while I was on semester break, halfway through my nursing program. It was drawn partly from life and partly from my imagination (obviously!). Two weeks ago, I finally graduated from school and I am looking forward to huge changes for 2018. I am feeling relieved, excited, and a little scared all at the same time. In terms of my artwork, finishing school will mean that I will have more time to paint, draw, and do other creative projects.

I hope everyone had a relaxing festive season. I love this time between Christmas and New Year’s—it is when I review my past year and strategize for the upcoming one. Over the next few days, I will be posting all the remaining work from this year that I haven’t posted yet, along with a review of 2017 and some of my art goals for 2018.

blue spruce drawing

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.

landscape sketch

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.
leaves marker sketch

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.

mexican pond painting

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!

tree bark lichen sketch

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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