Inspiration

Nature Notes | Bullet Journals

I have kept nature notes on and off for the last few years.  This is a section I have recently incorporated into my trusty Bullet Journal, as I found having a separate notebook for them was not woking.  I was less likely to make a quick note in it, and the whole idea of nature notes for me is making a short note of the state of your outdoor surroundings throughout the year.  Later you can look back and recognize patterns that occur about the same time each year in your specific area.  If you missed my previous post on starting a Bullet Journal, check it out here.

Bullet Journal Nature Notes FEB 2017

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Framed Art Prints Now Available in my Shop

You can now order framed art prints from my online shop!  I currently have white wooden 5 x 7 frames with a 4 x 6 mated image available.  Click here for more information and to shop online.

Buy one 5 x 7 framed print for $20 plus shipping
Or Buy 3 framed prints for $55 plus shipping

framed-art-prints-by-laura-ashton

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Easter Decor Inspiration

Easter will be coming Easter-Decor-Gift-Ideasup in April this year, it signifies the true arrival of spring to me and thus I am always anticipating it far in advance. I get so inspired by the arrival of spring and the promise of more gardening and bulbs in bloom!  Here are some ideas for decor and gifts that I have rounded up. Visit my online shop for more Easter gift and home decor ideas.

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succulents-spring-home-decor-throw-pillows

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Botanical Home Decor Inspiration

Though it is not yet showing any signs of spring here in Canada, I am beginning to think about fresh botanicals and how you can incorporate them into home decor and fresher up your living space, no matter what the weather is like outside.  I hope you find these images inspiring, check out my previous botanical home decor post here.

botanical-home-decor-inspiration-laura-ashton-artist

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Watercolour Sketchbook Tour Video | By Laura Ashton

I have finally made a video tour of my first completed Moleskine Watercolour sketchbook.  I started this sketchbook while I was in school completing my illustration diploma.  I think you will enjoy this video showing the different studies I have experimented with over the last few years.  It took me from 2012 to 2015 to complete this sketchbook.  I would say I spent more time on individual pages at the beginning compared to the end as my later pages are ideas and tests for completed paintings.  If you enjoy this video please subscribe to my YouTube channel as I will be adding more videos regularly.

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5 Nature Sketchbook Layout Ideas

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I have put together a few examples of some of the types of sketchbook studies I like to do.  The examples below are all recent entries from my moleskin watercolour sketchbook.  I have changed to a smaller technical pen tip for these entries and I think I prefer this look better than the larger nib. For the drawings I used a 0.1 tip pen with waterproof ink and for most of the text I used a 0.3 tip pen.  This size of pen can be found as a radiograph refillable pen or a pigment liner pen like Pigma Micron pens by Sakura.
The most important thing is to allow yourself to experiment and make mistakes.  I always draw in pencil and then go over my final drawing in pen as I usually end up doing some initial erasing.

The first two types of sketchbook studies are combined on the page above.

Landscape Cross-Section:
This is a good way to show the type of plants and terrain of an area that you are observing.  This simple diagram is very quick to draw and shows the elevation of the land, water sources and what plants are most commonly found there.

Spot Illustrations:
These are small drawings that focus in on one element or area of the landscape and capture the subject and suggest of the surroundings.  I was in a meadow with a pond when I drew these and I used binoculars to be able to see the Great Blue Heron and American Coot close enough to draw.

I like the effect of combining a few different style of studies into one page, connected by written notes.

Focused Plant Study:
The study of the Choke Cherry was done while I was out hiking, Once again I used pencil first and added colour with a water brush (which is a travel paint brush with a water reservoir in the handle) and my travel palette.  This represents more of a traditional botanical field study showing the different parts of a plant and showing some measurements as well as any abnormalities, such as the caterpillar nests.

Zoom In, Zoom Out:
This is another style of plant study that you can try, I really like the one.  You can find any plant or tree and try this.  First draw a portion of the plant that is actual size, then look for a smaller area that you can enlarge on that portion of plant you initially drew.  Once you have drawn the zoomed in area you can then zoom out and drawing a smaller simple version of the entire plant that you are looking at.  I chose to do this with the prickly pear cactus that was in the area I was hiking.  You can of course try this at home with a house plant or plants for your yard, if your are not able to take a sketchbook out with you on a hike.  Again I painted these with a water brush and my Lukas travel palette.  

If you are inspired to start a nature sketchbook the most important thing is to actually start and then keep drawing.  You will most likely not like all the pages in your book and some pages will always be favourites over others. You might even remove some pages from your book all together.  In all my sketchbooks I have removed some pages and have covered up portions of other pages with a patch of cardstock glued in over the area of the page I did not like.

Even if you do not like your first few entires, keep going!  The more you add to your sketchbook, the more you will learn and improve.

Bird and Animal Diagrams with Labels:
Another great way to learn and add to your sketchbook is to create diagrams of birds and animals from instructional drawing and painting books. Copying other artists work can really teach you a lot and help build your confidence.  As long as you do not claim the work as your own in a formal painting it is a wonderful learning tool.  This diagram above was inspired by the book Sketching and Illustrating Birds by Juan Varela. If you would like to learn or improve your drawing skills the best way is to learn the anatomy of your subject.  Many times in reference photos you cannot see all the parts of a bird, it helps a lot  to already know their basic parts and how they are connected.

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Colour Focus: Daniel Smith Watercolour Paints

Last month I purchased a colour dot sample sheet of all 238 Daniel Smith Extra Fine Watercolour paints. I was pretty darn excited to try them and have began testing and comparing them to my regular tried and true Winsor & Newton Artists watercolour paints.  I currently only use a few paint colours that are not Winsor & Newton in my regular palette.  One of those colours is Daniel Smith Quinacridone Rose, which I use in place of Winsor & Newton Permanent Rose. I like DS Quinacridone Rose’s shade of pink better and it stains the paper less than WN Permanent Rose, which makes it easier to work with. 

Daniel Smith is interesting to try as they have a huge range of colours, including a pure mineral line of pigments that include colours such as Amethyst Genuine, and Kyanite Genuine, as you paint with them you can see the luminous crystalline properties in the paint.

Some other colours have very appealing names which makes you want to try them just for that reason, like Moonglow, Serpentine and Bordeaux.

Daniel Smith Colour Tests

 

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Botanical Decor Inspiration

Now that I am a home owner I look forward to slowly personalizing my home to reflect my values and interests.  For me that means inspiration from the natural world, showcasing plants, animals, and woodland inspired prints to contrast against neutral wall colours and furniture.  The end result is a mix of light greens and natural items with a little woodsman rustic charm to satisfy both members of the household.

For the nature collector or beach comber.

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For the outdoor woodland enthusiast.

dont-feed-the-bears-woodland-rustic-sign-home-decor

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