Welcome to Part II of Your Summer Art Guide!
We’ve been exploring how to nourish your art practice this summer, creating and enjoying art wherever you’ll be. Holidays can be a great opportunity for exploring other aspects of your art practice outside the studio. Today we’re going to explore another potential travel scenario. If you’re lucky, perhaps you’re planning to spend your summer vacation at a family cottage by the lake or a friend’s cabin in the woods. Maybe you’re going to visit your parents’ house in the countryside or rent a place in some lovely village with orchards and gardens. Many of the impressionists had homes in the country where they went to escape the city, paint, and enjoy the company of friends and family. If you have some lazy summer days ahead, read on.
Scenario #2: Family holiday or cottage trip
Travel style: Car or plane. Since you won’t be moving around too much, you can bring a bit more stuff.
Luggage: A suitcase, presumably. Possibly you have a space in the trunk of a car.
Your focus will be on keeping a sketchbook journal (see Scenario #1: The Overseas Dream Trip), painting and drawing your surroundings (which will be discussed in detail below), and plein air painting (which will be covered in Scenario #3).
Your challenge will be carving out time to make art. Family vacations can be pretty packed with activities. One strategy is to find a little time to yourself. Try to get up early to paint for a few hours in the morning, bring your sketching materials to the beach, or use a solo hike as an opportunity to draw.
Another strategy, which I highly recommend, is to use your family and friends as subject matter. Capture them sitting in a garden, playing on the beach or in the waves, having a picnic, or sipping a cup of coffee. Many famous artists, including Mary Cassatt and Claude Monet, used their family members as models. Involving your family and friends will make your art-making fun and social, an integral part of your visit with them. There are countless ways to do this: make a game of it, offer to give a lesson to younger kids, or challenge your friends to try their hand at sketching. If they are going to be still for awhile – for instance, reading a book or lounging in a hammock – ask if you can sketch or paint them. This is a chance for you to share what you love with the people you love.
While you may choose to do plein air paintings of the landscape, you’ll have a wide array of subjects at your disposal. You may want to focus on figurative work, painting people in a variety of settings. You may be attracted to beautiful flower and vegetable gardens, fruit trees, or shrubbery and the dappled shadows they cast. Cottages and cabins also provide great opportunities for lovely interiors with or without people in them or views from windows and doors looking out into gardens. If you’re by the beach you could turn your attention to seascapes or sand dunes.
Use the same sketching materials as in Scenario #1: watercolor paints, pencils, pens, ink brushes, ink, even pigment markers. If you are going to be away for a longer period of time or in one place for awhile, consider bringing your painting supplies (see Scenario #3, coming soon).
Make sure that you take lots of great photos and do a number of sketches to use as reference material for future paintings.
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I hope that this has inspired you to keep up your art practice this summer. Have a great holiday!