Category: Ink and Watercolor

orange poppy watercolor

Keeping Busy

Below you will see some of the artwork I have made since the first of the year. I also have several pages of abandoned pen and ink drawings that I’m not going to post.

So far this year, I have drawn every single day, but not for enough time each day, I admit. I have also been picking up extra shifts at work, so I’ve been feeling a bit over scheduled lately. I’ve been saving money by making almost no unnecessary purchases and I’ve been feeling very responsible.

Things I’ve been working on:

monarch butterfly painting
©2020 Carolyn A Pappas, Monarch Feeding on Verbena. Ink and watercolor, 7 x 10 inches.

blue butterfly watercolor
©2020 Carolyn A Pappas, Prussian Blue Butterfly. Ink and watercolor, 12 x 16 cm.

orange poppy watercolor
©2020 Carolyn A Pappas, Papaver orientale. Ink and watercolor, 7.25 x 5.25 inches.

nature collage
©2020 Carolyn A Pappas, Nature’s Tidbits. Ink and watercolor collage on blank watercolor greeting card, 7 x 5 inches.

I’m wondering how long I can go at this pace. My pen and ink class is two months away, on April 22, and I still have a lot to do for that. I can’t wait to get started on a few more projects afterwards. Once summer comes, I won’t be at work so much, so I’ll have more time to myself and some bigger paintings.

art productivity tracker

2019 in Review and Next Year’s Goals

art productivity tracker
2019 Art Productivity Tracker. I colored a square on the grid for each day that I drew or painted.

Welcome to my annual yearly review and goals post. I didn’t have any goals in 2019 except to be more regular with doing art every day and to send my newsletter out monthly. I included a picture of my art tracker for the year so you can see that I got much more serious around June. I made art every day in October and I was so proud of myself for this achievement. I plan on trying to continue this momentum for 2020. I did send my newsletter out monthly except for in the summer. I want to get more regular with this and to also plan it out better to relieve some stress.

For 2020, I want to be more intentional with my art activities. Instead of spending weeks working in my sketchbook, I would like to work on some finished artwork to frame and sell. I also want to spend more time doing projects of my own instead of just looking at what everyone else is doing online.

I got an iPad Pro and an Apple pencil this year and I want to learn how to use the Procreate app. This app is very powerful and there are so many features. There is always a learning curve with any new medium, but I’m excited about some projects that I can make with this app.

Pen and ink will be a huge focus of my artwork, especially in the first half of the year, because I will be teaching a pen and ink nature sketching workshop in my community. I’m excited about this opportunity.

Thank you for following my work. I appreciate everyone who follows me regularly and everyone who just stops to look. Below, I’ve posted some work from the year that I haven’t shared here before. Best wishes for a productive, creative and healthy 2020 and beyond.

pen and ink tree detail
©2019 Carolyn A Pappas, Tree Detail (10/8/2019). Ink and watercolor in large moleskine.
small nature objects sketch
©2019 Carolyn A Pappas, Fallen Objects: September 2019. Ink and watercolor in large moleskine.
pen and ink watercolor tree
©2019 Carolyn A Pappas, Moss Covered Tree (9/24/19). Ink and watercolor in large moleskine.
John Hanson Project album art

Back to Art in the New Year

John Hanson Project album art
©2018 Carolyn A Pappas, Wilderness River. Pen and ink with watercolor, 8 x 8 inches. Album art for John Hanson Project.

I had so many plans for my art in 2018 but things did not work as planned. I sorely underestimated the mental and physical energy that working full time as a new nurse would require. I was working more hours than a normal 40 hour workweek with odd shifts and a very irregular sleep schedule. For the last three months of the year, I didn’t pick up a pencil or a paint brush even one time and I felt so out of sorts. I’ve since taken some steps to remedy that situation and I’m looking forward to having more time for artwork in the coming months.

I have no formal goals for this year, but I just want to have fun and concentrate on making art daily or as close to daily as possible. I also want to focus on sending out my newsletter every month–I neglected to send that out for the last few months of the year and I regretted it. My January edition will be going out within the next few days (click here to sign up).

I’m looking forward to what 2019 will hold for me and I hope that everyone reading this has a prosperous and fulfilling year ahead.


Above is an illustration I completed for the cover art for the self-released album by John Hanson Project. I’ve known John for several years and he is an extremely dedicated musician who has been working tirelessly for years to realize his musical dreams. I highly recommend that you check out his new album Go On.

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.