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Top Tips for Making Marks on Location

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better - Einstein

One of my most favourite things to do is draw or paint on location. There is something so freeing about being outdoors and mark making. I have had questions about how I draw on location or people wishing they could give it a go. So I thought I would share some tips I learnt along the way.


* Plan where you want to go. It may seem a silly thing to say but if you don't have a plan of where you are going to go it will make the next few steps difficult to plan for too. What do you want to draw? Beach, trees, forests, buildings - all very different. There is no point planning a countryside hike if what you want to draw is architecture and people.


* Dress for the climate and location. If you are planning on hiking to a countryside location then sturdy shoes will help cover rough terrain and keep toes warm and dry. If you are planning on navigating around a city you may want lighter shoes.

Weather is a big one with drawing on location. I have done a few where it has rained and it certainly adds another dimension to the art. Equally sitting in direct sunlight during summer brings its challenges too.

So as a basic - I always tend to have a coat with me (unless peak summer).

Autumn/Winter I dress with layers. Once you sit down and start drawing you will feel the cold creeping in.

Spring/Summer you will want hat and sunglasses. The sun can be bright and difficult to draw if you are squinting.

A rucksack is good for keeping all your kit in. I use a camelbak that is about 14 years old and still going strong.

* Start with the basics. Begin with just a pad of paper and a pencil. I have a cheaper sketch book for taking out. You become less worried if it gets bashed or leaked on. Keep your best sketch books for home.

Then you can begin to add materials to your kit depending on what your looking to create. I find pastels are good for adding colour and a pen to add in details. These travel well too. When you take paints you need to factor in all the extras you need - water, water pot (I have a collapsible pot), brushes (I tend to keep my older brushes for this), cloth to dry brushes. You also have to factor in drying time, paints I find work best in warmer weather.


* Keep it loose. The joyful part of creating on location is how freeing it is. There are no rules, no expectations, no audience. A chance to throw caution to the wind. Just you and nature. I tend to keep my marks very fluid and flowing. I pick out a few colours and mark out light and shadow. Then I go in with a pen to pick out details. I want to look at the drawing and remember where I was sat and how I was feeling. I then use these little studies to work from when I am home in the dry and warm to create a painting. The more you do this the more you will find your style of working outside.


* Slow down. What becomes truly magical is once you are all set up you become a part of that location. I find being on a lower level I start to see different things. Things that you tend to miss when going about the hustle of everyday life. The way the light dances across the fields. How birds swoop and hover. The sprouting of new life as each season passes through. I love Autumn for all the colours and the mushrooms! I find them mesmerizingly beautiful. There is also a different type of light this time of year. Colours are more crisp.

* Take a drink. In the warmer months it is nice to have some cool drinks and plenty of water. In the colder months I take a coffee. It becomes part of the moment. Just sitting. Being. Slowing down.


* Be wary of pets. I am laughing whilst I write this one. I take both my dogs with me when I go. They are fairly well behaved, however, when in full spinning play mode they are like destructive hurricanes. Today I had my box of pastels upended and my coffee knocked over (thankfully the lid was still on). It is worth being mindful even if you don't have dogs, you may meet dog walkers on your way.


* Most importantly have fun. Drawing on location is one of the most joyful things. Just go for it.


Let me know if you head out and create on location. I would love to see your creations.



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