Wednesday, May 2, 2018


                     Prayer Flag                  Mixed Media
Rollinsville  Mixed Media

I am an abstract mixed media artist, and some people think that I just splash color onto a canvas and receive accolades. Besides the classes and practice that I have in common with representational artists I, like them, still need to base my work on imagery. Sometimes, the work is based on a still life, but many times, it is inspired by my travels. My husband and I have been fortunate to  have been able to devote time to travel.  Here’s how I prepare to record my travel inspirations.
First, I recommend a very basic portable studio. At first, I used watercolors, but sitting in the wind with bits of twigs and leaves flying onto your work can curb your enthusiasm. Carrying pots of water over hill and dell is also going to slow you down, so instead I use watercolor pencils. With them, you sketch out your impressions, and in the comfort of your tent, cabin, or lodge, use a brush to wet the pigments and complete your work. 
Second, I use a bound sketchbook which I have prepared by taping off the surface and applying gesso. Since I work in squares, I tape the page to a square, and the gesso gives the paper a little more tooth. Sometimes, I set a problem for the page such as painting blue, yellow and red wash bands (Prayer Flags above) or coating the page in a single color ink wash.  My pad is not large, about 6”X4”, so finished sketches are 4”X4”.
Finally, I round out my portable studio with a small set of brushes, rubber bands, and small containers for water. The rubber bands hold the notebook open and can be used for securing other items as I sit on that windy hill.
I use these sketches as my inspiration. They also help to set my palette and name the work.
Above, I’ve included some sketches from my travels.

How do you prepare to be inspired to create?  Share Your Comments Below.


  1. Interested to hear about your process Sara. I also love water soluble pencils. I like two sizes of Niji water brushes, which avoids the necessity of carrying water containers. Of course, when I drive to one place, such as the Lake Michigan shore every summer, I just throw an Artbin in the back of the RAV and have LOTS of stuff to make art with. Cheers! Trish Johnston

  2. Thanks for sharing. I enjoyed reading the other posts here. Most of my artwork is commissioned by my clients, but whether I am doing an art piece for my own home, for a gift, a charity donation (where tickets are sold to win the art piece, raising funds for the charity or cause), or for a client who is requesting a piece done in a certain style or on a selected subject of their choice, I do extensive research before I even try to begin. There are many ways through which I find inspiration: going to local and online galleries, visiting libraries and looking through books on art, going through my many dozens of art books and magazines at home, and searching catalogs which display artwork. I look not so much for the subject matter of the artwork, but for ideas for color combinations, layout structures, textures incorporated, new products used or old products used in new ways. Often my clients request not only the subject matter, but the colors that they like or that would coordinate with room decor, a certain size or even a specific framing or matting technique. Just received a request to have the painting "overflow" onto the matting. There are ideas everywhere, so I feel that I am "on the hunt" for exactly what will make my artwork satisfying and personalized to my client's desires. Usually this process presents me with ideas for many art pieces (and home decor, fashions, greeting and note cards, and jewelry design ideas!) that I can create later. I keep a File Box filled with, and labeled, "Inspiration and Ideas For Future Artwork".