Tag: productivity

Winter landscape watercolor painting of bare trees with the sun peeking through at sunrise

Clean Morning

Winter landscape watercolor painting of bare trees with the sun peeking through at sunrise
©2023 Carolyn A Pappas, Clean Morning. Watercolor and graphite, 8 x 10 inches.

I don’t have enough time in the day to do all the art that I want to get done. I also have been working in my studio for my full time job (because it’s warmer) and then staying in that very same room during the evening to do my artwork. That has led me to have this weird, closed in feeling at times. I can’t wait until it warms up outside and we are in that sweet spot where you don’t have to run the heat or the air conditioner. I will feel more comfortable working in other areas of my house and I can reserve my studio for my art activities.

I’ve been doing a lot of drawing on my iPad, using Procreate, and also editing photos in Affinity Photo on my iPad. I figured out how to remove the backgrounds from my drawings, which I had a good method for in Photoshop, but I wasn’t sure how this new program would work. My process is not the most efficient, but I enjoy it and the results have come out to my liking. Even on the days that I am not drawing new artwork, I have been working on my art in one form or another. Not a day goes by that I haven’t been working on something.

This is my first proper painting of the year, called Clean Morning. I took the reference photo about a year ago, the morning after a late February or March snowstorm. This watercolor does not contain any pen and ink, but uses a sketchy style pencil drawing for the trees (I used a BIC disposable mechanical pencil). What attracted me to this scene was the dramatic light shining through the trees and the long shadows cast over the snow. It was really a perfect snowy atmosphere that morning, and I took a number of interesting photos on that occasion that I have in my reference file.

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.

oak leaf watercolor

Dried to a Crisp

Three studies of fall leaves and various updates

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone reading from the US. I have so much to be thankful for this year. I have a regular routine and my life has quieted down so much compared to year’s past. I’m pleased with myself that I’ve been working on art (nearly) daily since the end of September. I think one of the reasons is that my work schedule gives me mornings off and I feel more motivated to get some artwork done before I go in to work.

Still, I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed with several projects. I tend to do this every year before Christmas, and I’ve vowed to myself several times (unsuccessfully) that I would not repeat the mistake. I’m looking forward to wrapping up all my handmade gifts and then moving onto some pursuits that are just for me. Andy J Pizza has a new Skillshare class on this topic that really has me inspired.

I recently finished a sketchbook and started a new one, the Etchr A5 hotpress 100% cotton watercolor sketchbook (see bottom left image below). I love that this sketchbook takes watercolor so much better than the moleskine books. However, I have some projects in mind that aren’t in a sketchbook and instead involve working on frame-able artwork. Stay tuned for some work outside of the sketchbook in the coming months.

maple leaf pen and ink stippling
©2019 Carolyn A Pappas, Maple Leaf Flatlay. Ink and watercolor in large moleskine.

oak leaf watercolor
©2019 Carolyn A Pappas, Oak Leaf (10/30/2019). Watercolor in Etchr A5 hotpress watercolor sketchbook.

magnolia leaf drawing
©2019 Carolyn A Pappas, Dried Magnolia Leaf. Ink and watercolor in large moleskine.

garden sketch collage

Plans for 2017

garden sketch collage
©2016 Carolyn A Pappas, Garden Sketch (11/6/2016). Ink, watercolor, and collage in large moleskine.
garden sketch collage
©2016 Carolyn A Pappas, Garden Sketch (12/20/2016). Ink, watercolor, and collage in large moleskine.
Above are some pages from my sketchbook when I was thinking about time and time management.

For 2017, my goals are simple. First and foremost, I plan to successfully complete my nursing program. Secondly, I want to find a way to include art in my life during the school year. Last semester, I only broke away from my studies one time to do art and I missed it terribly. I don’t think I can mentally function for a whole year (including the summer) by only drawing between terms. At this point, I’m not sure how I will implement more frequent art making, but I will post updates throughout the year.

Last year, I did have the foresight to realize that I would be buried with schoolwork and I saved some drawings to post during the year. I am aiming for one post a month at minimum, but more often if I can manage.

I wish everyone reading this a healthy, prosperous, and creative 2017!

instagram best 9 2016

2016 In Review

instagram best 9 2016
My most liked Instagram photos from 2016. I started using Instagram slightly more this past year. I post images of things that inspire me as an artist, as well as work in progress photos. Feel free to follow me: @carolynapappas.

While 2016 may have been negative in terms of events in the news and celebrity deaths, it was an amazing and eventful year for me personally. Here is a recap of some of the things that I have accomplished:

Art Achievements
  • My most productive art making months were July and August. During these months, my schedule was the lightest and I felt an urgency to make as much art as I could before school started.
  • My biggest creative inspiration in 2016 was Tower Hill Botanic Garden. I am still overflowing with ideas and you will definitely see more of Tower Hill in my art in 2017.
  • I published 35 blog posts over the course of the year, which doesn’t meet my goal of one post a week. I am okay with that though, because I made a lot of artwork that I didn’t post (stay tuned in 2017).
  • I published 52 posts to Instagram over the course of 2016.
  • For six weeks in the beginning of the year, I participated in the online Sketchbook Skool course, Expressing. You can read my review of the kourse here.
  • I participated in the Twitter Art Exhibit, held in NYC in March.
  • I decorated and mailed a blank postcard to Greenfield Community College for a show of Mail Art.
  • I completed a commissioned watercolor landscape painting for the album cover of Robert Louis’ debut Christmas album.
  • I completed my red moleskine sketchbook and started a new moleskine, which is in progress.
  • I experimented with Photoshop and learned how to make animated GIFs to feature my artwork.
  • Crafty pursuits included making two hand-sewn mermaid dolls and an advent calendar for my daughter.
Personal Achievements
  • I finished the prerequisites for the nursing program I am attending, started nursing school in September, and completed the first semester.
Thank you to all who visited me online during this past year, left comments, or sent encouraging emails. I am so grateful for the support of kindred spirits!

I will be back on Sunday with my goals for 2017.

red moleskine

A Well Used Book

red moleskineI always get a feeling of accomplishment when I finish a sketchbook, especially one that has been in progress for the better part of two years. I am so happy to move on from my red large moleskine. It was an unexpected gift that I originally began hesitantly. It wasn’t until about a year ago that I really got into a groove and began filling it up with more vigor. When I flip through the pages, I also see a real progression in my level of artistic risk taking, which pleases me.

Oftentimes, finishing a sketchbook coincides with moving onto a new season of my life. I have the rest of the summer before I start school again and I’m hoping to break in my new sketchbook by then.

English countryside drawings

2015 in Review

As is my custom, I’m reviewing the past year and looking forward to my goals in 2016. I also want to wish anyone reading this a very happy and fulfilling New Year. Thank you for viewing my work.

English countryside drawings
©2015 Carolyn A Pappas, English Countryside Vignettes. Ink and watercolor in moleskine, each drawing 4 inch diameter. My last piece of artwork from 2015.


  • I put my house plans on hold and decided instead to return to school, which was a really big and risky decision. So far I have completed all of the prerequisites I need for nursing school except for Human Growth and Development (I’m working on that now).
  • I took an intense four week CNA course and successfully passed my state exam to receive my CNA certification.
  • I made three illustrations of spinach for Sow True Seed Company. Read their blog post featuring me here.
  • I participated in Inktober, a pen and ink drawing challenge in the month of October.
  • I made some handmade Christmas presents—something I have wanted to do in past years but never got around to actually completing.


  • Art making was put on the back burner for most of the year because I was working on school so intensely, which did not leave a lot of energy to focus on much of anything else.
  • I had a pretty bad injury to my face last January and have had ongoing dental and facial pain for most of the year. Chronic pain can certainly be very wearing.

Goals for 2016

  • I am participating in the Twitter Art Exhibit, which will take place in March.
  • For the rest of 2016 I am going to try to focus solely on my own projects and sketchbooks. I’d like to have new work to post to my blog once a week, if possible.
  • My general intention for 2016 is to start projects instead of just thinking about them. Nothing this year I did was perfect, but I am glad I was able to finish some things that I had the courage to start in the first place.
Watercolor bookmarks with handmade tassels

Back to the books

Watercolor bookmarks with handmade tassels
Painted bookmarks (watercolor) with handmade tassels.

I made myself some new bookmarks in preparation for the fall semester that started today. This time I am taking all of my classes online which I have never done before. Some people have trouble keeping themselves disciplined with their self study schedule, but my years of homeschool have prepared me well.

I took a few weeks off in between the end of the summer session and now. By the end, I was really itching for school to start again. I was very overwhelmed with my intense schedule over the summer and I just could not wait to have some time off to do whatever I wanted with no demands. I was anticipating a really productive time doing a lot of painting and drawing, etc. Interestingly, I found that my expectations did not match reality. Instead, I ended up losing my motivation, getting way off my sleep schedule, and wrenching my shoulder so that I did not do much drawing at all. I realized that I function best when I have some sort of structure to my day (but not too much) with defined work to do and have to fit my artwork in between everything else. Lisa Congdon wrote an interesting post about how her expectations did not match reality when she recently went on a three week artist residency.

I’m interested to see how this next semester works out because I will mostly have complete freedom over my school schedule. Will I end up getting more artwork done? I hope so!

pink roses ink watercolor drawing

Open your sketchbook.

pink roses ink watercolor drawing
©2014 Carolyn A Pappas, Roses (11-15-2014). Ink and watercolor in watercolor moleskine sketchbook.
This thought came to my mind one day while sitting in church. I took my own advice and did some more in my sketchbook (the drawing above), as well as another drawing that I will use as my Christmas card this year. I even had the courage to break out my dip pens and I stayed up late a few nights to work on it. It seems that starting a drawing is the hardest part, and after that the rest is all downhill.