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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Working with the Weather--art tips!

A very quick sketch near the library on a cold winter day...

I added color later, from memory, when I had more time.  I HAVE had the water freeze in my waterbrushes before, but you can warm and thaw them in your hand if need be.  Just don't stay out too long!

One of the things in our poll at right was dealing with the weather.  I find that I sketch in my journal winter and summer, indoors and out, and it's good to be prepared.  There's nothing wrong with working from your car or out a window, of course...the important thing is to keep making those records in our journals, to keep observing and celebrating life.

Do what you can on the spot, make notes, add color later, take a quick photo and paste it in...whatever's necessary!

You may have seen correspondent Nina Khashchina's post on  Snow Sketching--fun and full of great ideas.

I always go out on January 1, no matter what...for this one I worked fast with a colored pencil, and added the color, again, later.  I'd forgotten water or colored pencils, anyway. 

Some of you may know I offer free art tips on my website, and have for years.  (You can find them HERE at upper left--we're up to #112 now, and old ones are archived as PDFs.)   Since I've done a couple on working with the weather, I thought you might like to see them!

The first one covers sun, wind, heat and rain, for those of you in warmer climes:


And you'll find "Sketching on the Spot in Cold Weather here:  http://www.cathyjohnson.info/tips/tip84.pdf

Sketching in Nature correspondent Elva Paulson wrote a post about write-in-the-rain paper--you can find it HERE.  Looks like fun!

Please, share your OWN favorite tricks for dealing with weather!


  1. Great info, Ms. Kate! One thing I would add with regard to working in bright sunny locations—try to wear lighter colored clothing (white, beige, light tan) when on location. If you wear a brightly colored shirt, it will reflect on your white paper and it can skew your color perceptions. Same goes for a hat that the light shines through!

  2. Excellent suggestion, I hadn't thought of that, Laure! It's also cooler to wear light clothes in the sun...

  3. Thanks for the info, and link to your website. Beautiful work.

  4. Kate,
    I was fortunate to be able see watercolorist, Tony Foster's paintings of the Grand Canyon and Mt. Everest when the exhibit came to the Phoenix Art Museum. He also gave a lecture where he told us that he had to add gin to his painting water (not drinking water, ha) when painting on site on Mt. Everest to keep the water from freezing. Wonder if that would work in the water brush. Worth a try.

  5. Thanks, both of you! Kay, John Pike used to use vodka in his paint water in the winter, so why not?! And sounds like a wonderful lecture, I'd love to see those paintings in person.


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