Guest Blog: Outdoor Sketching by Martha Kelly

I've always painted outside from life, but I started with a full pastel kit and a heavy French box easel. Through years of travel and walking around Memphis to sketch, I've honed my gear to be lighter and more compact. It's fun to be able to pack a few things and walk out to sketch the world, whether you're walking across a city with a backpack for a whole day or working out of a purse for a night at the theater. 

I'm teaching a sketching workshop at the Dixon on May 30, and I'll be sharing the things I've learned about how to dress comfortably for time in the sun, how to pick a good spot to sketch, and my secret weapon inflatable cushion. I'll show some of my sketchbooks that use different materials, and we'll all test out some portable gear and different pens and watercolors. Here's a marker sketch I did in Paris last year. It's drawn with a Stabilo fine liner and three Faber Castell brush pens. I like them for quick sketches and limited color. 

For black and white, I enjoy using a fountain pen plus a brush pen loaded with a lighter ink wash. 

Here's a fountain pen with watercolor, very quick sketches from my work table. I try to keep a sketch pad handy even when I'm doing other work. 

This spring I've also been enjoying sketching the wildflowers in the Old Forest of Overton Park, where I walk my dog. I've been taking my sketch book on dog walks most days. This is a pencil and watercolor of mayapples. 

A fellow artist I met snapped this photo of me sketching on site in Paris. Broad brimmed hats are not always fashionable, but they are helpful in creating your own shade to work in. Another sketching secret weapon. 

Come sketch with us on May 30th and test out the possibilities for yourself.

-Martha Kelly

Posted by Chantal Drake at 2:35 PM
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