Tag Archives: watercolor

Fort McAllister

Fort McAllister Journal ©2017 Lucinda Howe

Fort McAllister Journal
©2017 Lucinda Howe

On a recent trip to Fort McAllister State Park in Georgia with a group of artists, I had been under the weather for a few days and didn’t feel like lugging a heavy easel and canvases.  I packed  my travel kit and a small accordion-fold journal.  Combining lettering, drawing, and watercolor painting, I captured the feel of the marsh and some botanical details.  This turned out to be a very satisfactory way to remember the trip and add to my visual vocabulary for future paintings. 

Fort McAllister #1 ©2017 Lucinda Howe

Fort McAllister #1
©2017 Lucinda Howe

Fort McAllister #2 ©2017 Lucinda Howe

Fort McAllister #2
©2017 Lucinda Howe

Fort McAllister #3 ©2017 Lucinda Howe

Fort McAllister #3
©2017 Lucinda Howe

Fort McAllister #4 ©2017 Lucinda Howe

Fort McAllister #4
©2017 Lucinda Howe

Posted in Plein Air Also tagged , , |

Quebec City

Quebec City Tulips ©2017 Lucinda Howe

Quebec City
©2017 Lucinda Howe

The second part of Jane LaFazio’s watercolor sketching class was in Quebec City, Canada. After a cool, wet spring, the weather warmed up the week we arrived.  The tulips were in full bloom around the Chateau Frontenac and City Hall, but as the temperature rose to 85 degrees, the petals were dropping even as Jane conducted a lesson in flower painting.


Quebec City Window boxes ©2017 Lucinda Howe

Quebec City
Window boxes
©2017 Lucinda Howe

The city had beautiful old buildings with flower boxes on many of the windows.  I did these sketches quickly in pencil and added watercolor later when I had a few spare minutes. 


Quebec City Boat Tour on St. Lawrence River ©2017 Lucinda Howe

Quebec City
Boat Tour on St. Lawrence River
©2017 Lucinda Howe

One afternoon, we enjoyed a boat tour on the St Lawrence River on the Louis Jolliet, named for the French explorer and cartographer. 


 Île d'Orléans ©2017 Lucinda Howe

Île d’Orléans
©2017 Lucinda Howe

On our last day together, we had a tour of  Île d’Orleans, and island in the middle of the St. Lawrence River, a short drive from Quebec City, known as the “garden of Quebec”.  The island has a warm microclimate and is know for its produce including strawberries, apples, wines, and maple syrup. 

Posted in Plein Air, Travel Also tagged |


Montreal & Quebec Journal Pages 1 & 2 ©2017 Lucinda Howe NFS

Montreal & Quebec Journal
Pages 1 & 2
©2017 Lucinda Howe

In last week’s email, I talked about packing an art kit for traveling. I was thinking about that because I was packing for a trip to Montréal and Quebec City, Canada. I went with a small group of artists studying watercolor sketching with Jane LaFazio.

The first day we received an accordion-fold book, and after a walking tour around Montréal, we had a lesson in the Notre-Dame Basilica. Although I thought I had an idea of what to do on a trip like that, I learned a few new things.

I can travel lighter and carry a smaller kit than I planned. We used very small (6×4 inch) sketchbook. A watercolor palette, brush with water in the handle, a pencil, a kneaded eraser, a water-soluble pen, a permanent pen, and a paper towel or sponge made up the basic kit. This was my first experience with the water brush, and it was certainly easier than carrying a water bottle and cup.

Small Watercolor Kit @2017 Lucinda Howe

Small Watercolor Kit
@2017 Lucinda Howe

The walking tour of Montréal was informative, but moved too fast for me to do much drawing as we walked. I made mental notes of several things to explore on my next trip. Montréal had a young multi-cultural vibe with many art galleries, museums, and festivals. I quickly realized that two days was not nearly enough time in this diverse city.

Jane took us into the Notre-Dame Basilica for a drawing lesson. She said to focus on what attracts you first, isolate a small section, and draw the detail. That was a good lesson in how to deal with overwhelming architecture.

Montreal & Quebec Journal Pages 3 & 4 ©2017 Lucinda Howe NFS

Montreal & Quebec Journal
Pages 3 & 4
©2017 Lucinda Howe

Also, in my journal, I drew street signs, practiced lettering key words, and glued in a map.

All too soon, we left boarded a train and headed for Quebec City. In next week’s email, I’ll show drawings from the second phase of the trip.


Posted in Travel Also tagged |

Back on the Bus!

Journal page Cabrieres d'Avignon, France ©2011 Lucinda Howe

Journal page
Cabrieres d’Avignon, France
©2011 Lucinda Howe

Now that I have my travel kit packed, how do I use it?

My goal is to record impressions for myself, not to produce finished art. What I remember most about my trips are the times when I stood still long enough to focus on something, absorb the sensory input, and process it through my fingers onto the page. I also take photographs, but they don’t have the same impact. In fact, sometimes I look at a photo and wonder why I took it, but I always know what attracted me to a journal entry.

Years ago, I took Margaret Hoybach’s journaling workshop.  She talked about how to work when you’re in a tour group with non-painters. You may have only a few minutes to draw while everyone else is snapping photos.

In that case, I carry only part of my kit. Journal, pencil, pen, possibly watercolor crayons. Dry media only, no water. I make a small drawing about the size of a photo (4×6 inches), leaving white space around it on the page. A few lines establish the horizon and major design elements. In the margins, I make notes on color, weather, smells, sounds, and texture. This is an exercise of 5 minutes or less. I do more than one if I have time. How much can I capture before someone yells “back on the bus!”?

Later when we stop for lunch, or have a few quiet moments in the hotel, I add color with paint and details with black ink. I also add tickets and other bits of paper with the glue stick. If I do it the same day while the memory is fresh, I will retain the important information and eliminate unnecessary details.

Posted in Travel

Ready, Set, Go!

Travel Kit Watercolors, drawing media and journal

Travel Kit
Watercolors, drawing media and journal

June is the beginning of travel season for me. Of course, I may travel year-round, but the feeling is a holdover from school days and the excitement of summer vacation.

I’ve been cleaning out and repacking my art supplies, and thought I would show you what I’m using these days.

When I attend a plein air event or workshop, I pack my Soltek easel, canvases, acrylic or oil paints. I’m glad to have all of that if I have a lot of painting time, but it’s heavy and doesn’t leave much room for clothes and souvenirs. If I’m going with non-painters, I want a small, portable art kit.

The minimum I need to make art is paper and pencil. That lets me make a variety of marks, capture shapes, and make notes. I also want a way to add color. Everything else is an expansion of these requirements.

Paper can be bound or loose, mixed media or watercolor paper. It needs to be heavy enough to take watercolor without warping. I’m using a small watercolor palette by Winsor-Newton that I refill with my favorite tube colors. I squeeze out the paint and let it dry on the palette. It will rehydrate when I add water to it. In addition, I use a watercolor brush that holds water in the handle or carry a water bottle. I put it all in a plastic box and carry it in a cloth bag with shoulder straps.

  • Shoulder bag
  • Strathmore Art Journal with watercolor paper (8.5 x 5.5 inches)
  • Watercolor crayons
  • Water bottle
  • Paper towels
  • Plastic box
  • Winsor-Newton watercolor palette
  • Pencil
  • Kneaded eraser
  • Black pens (Faber-Castell, Staedtler, Tombow, Sharpie)
  • Watercolor brushes
  • Glue stick
  • White gouache
  • White gel pen
  • Exacto knife (put in checked bag if flying)
  • Small cup for water
  • Wax (for resist)
  • 6 inch ruler

Next week – how to use this kit when traveling

Posted in Travel

Along the Cart Path

Along the Cart Path 5.5 x 17 inches Watercolor on paper ©2017 Lucinda Howe

Along the Cart Path
5.5 x 17 inches
Watercolor in journal
©2017 Lucinda Howe

After doing some yard cleanup and mulching this week, I was inspired to relax on the deck and paint the view of the perennial garden and golf course in the back.  It’s nice to have a green background that I don’t have to maintain.  

Posted in Garden, Plein Air

Spring in My Garden

Spring in My Garden 5.5x17 inches Watercolor and ink on paper ©2017 Lucinda Howe

Spring in My Garden
5.5×17 inches
Watercolor and ink on paper
©2017 Lucinda Howe

Last Saturday, the plein air group painted in my garden and had lunch at my house.  I didn’t paint because I couldn’t focus on cooking and painting at the same time.  Today was a calmer day and the weather was beautiful, so I perched on my concrete bench and painted this scene in my watercolor book. 

I don’t have many flowers blooming yet, but there was dappled light and shadow on the ground and many variations of green in the foliage.  I used diverse brush strokes and ink accents to add texture the painting. 


Posted in Garden, Plein Air

April in Winnsboro

April in Winnsboro 5.5 x 17 inches Watercolor on paper ©2017 Lucinda Howe

April in Winnsboro
5.5 x 17 inches
Watercolor on paper
©2017 Lucinda Howe

This week in South Carolina the weather is beautiful.  It’s prime time for gardening and plein air painting.  Today I had the opportunity to have lunch and paint with Barbara Yongue, Melinda Smith, and Alice Marcel at a beautiful home and garden in Winnsboro.  What a treat! This small piece was painted across two pages in my watercolor journal. 

Posted in Plein Air Also tagged |

Spring Fever

Weeds 11x8.5 inches Graphite and watercolor on yardstick ©2017 Lucinda Howe NFS

11×8.5 inches
Graphite and watercolor on yardstick
©2017 Lucinda Howe

In the spring of the year, I find my attention divided among many creative pursuits.

The warm weather that makes me want to paint outdoors also tempts me to work in my garden, paint in the studio with the windows open, sew a spring dress, and cook spring vegetables. This year, taking Clemson’s Master Gardener course even further distracts me. On a day when I could be painting, I’m studying weed identification.

I decided it was OK that my interests overlap and started drawing weeds. I find that by carefully observing and drawing the weeds, I’m more likely to remember the identifying characteristics. Also, any drawing from life that I do improves my drawing skills in general.  

Do you find yourself wanting to try many different things in the spring? How do you combine several of your interests into a project?

Posted in Garden

6 Tips to Improve Your Plein Air Painting Experience

Popcorn's Ready 5.5 x 17 inches Watercolor on Strathmore Watercolor boo ©2017 Lucinda Howe Not for Sale

Popcorn’s Ready
5.5 x 17 inches
Watercolor on Strathmore Watercolor book
©2017 Lucinda Howe
Not for Sale

If you haven’t painted outdoors (“en plein air”), you might be hesitant to meet up with a group of painters and get started. I encourage you to join in the fun.

On Saturday morning, I joined the About Face group at Soda City market in Columbia, South Carolina. I was running late, so I had only an hour to work before critique and lunch. The market was busy, so I knew I couldn’t capture a lot of detail. I decided to work small in a watercolor book. I sat on the low wall at Boyd Plaza near the Kettle Corn tent. The man rang the bell every time the popcorn was ready. Although you see only the painting, I remember the ringing of the bell, the smell of the popcorn, and the movement of the people, dogs, and strollers. For me, the best part of painting in a busy environment like Soda City is the memories of the sensations I experienced while painting.

If you would like to try outdoor painting, here are 6 tips to get you started….

  • Supplies- Pack your kit with easel, paints, supports, brushes, tools, bug spray and sunscreen. When I started plein air painting, I would go out in my back yard and paint, and I always forgot something.   I’d go back into the house to get the paper towels, then I’d go back for the bug spray, then the kneaded eraser, until I finally had everything I needed. Then I made a checklist to be sure I had the essentials when I ventured out with a group.
  • Scouting – When you arrive at the site, scout around. Look at the angle of the sun, take photos, think about composition before you select your spot.
  • Shade – It’s important to be in the shade for the sake of your skin. Also, your canvas should be in the shade or the painting will be too dark when you take it inside.
  • Small Supports – Sketchbooks, small panels and canvases require minimal paint and can be completed in a couple of hours. It’s more satisfying to complete most of the piece on site than to just get started before time to quit. Painting small also forces you to narrow your focus and simplify your composition. Save the large canvases until you have more experience.
  • Senses – Outdoor painting is not just about what you see. Observe the smells, tastes, sounds, and feelings that surround you as you paint.
  • Sharing – Be sure to share your drawing or painting with others. You’ll learn from group critique, but you will also be able to share your unique view of the experience with others. I’m always amazed at how all the artists have different perspectives on similar subject matter. Isn’t that what visual communication is all about?

As we move into spring, there will be more opportunities to paint with plein air groups and to pack your art supplies for vacation travels. If you would like more information about painting with a group around Columbia, SC, contact me. If you don’t paint here, paint somewhere!

Posted in Plein Air Also tagged |