30 Minute Quick Watercolor Sketch Churchill Woods

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Just above the water, swallows chase each other under the bridge. A Baltimore Oriole makes a quick appearance, then disappears into a sea of green. The wind is strong, but the temperature is warm and a rush sounds in between the leaves.

I sit and make a quick sketch. Simple color and simple shapes. I let my mind float away on the next breeze.

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Churchill Woods

I started a new MeetUp group called, Through Christ Who Strengthens. Not only do we visit multiple forest preserves to paint nature, but we discuss a topic of struggle in life and how to overcome them. Running to scripture and renewing our minds is a key strategy in overcoming life’s difficulties. When we are done with our watercolor sketches, we add a scripture verse pertaining to the struggle.

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The group painting.

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Our beautiful artwork.
Everyone chose a different scripture verse pertaining to worry. Now, the next time we worry, we can look at our sketches and read our verses. Someday the group will make some encouraging artwork for others too.

So, if you live in the Chicago area and would like to sketch with us and learn how to defeat life’s struggles with scripture, find us here.

Mr. Bad Raccoon Watercolor

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This is Mr. Bad Raccoon. Mr. Bad Raccoon liked to visit my bird feeder at Christ in the Wilderness promptly at 8pm every night. He was very hungry.

He was also very smart. His large body conquered the raccoon baffle on the feeder itself by standing on his hind feet, hugging the baffle, and inching his way to the top where he would lift the lid right off. Once on top, he would either cup his hands grabbing seed and bring it up to his face or he would place his whole head inside the feeder.

His determination created a soft spot in my heart and I stopped shewing him away. I reasoned with myself that if he went through all of that hard work, he must be rewarded. So I just watched in amazement. His is kinda cute.

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Rest Here Watercolor

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There’s something about an empty bench underneath a gorgeous, shade providing tree… I couldn’t resist.
Here you find rest. The birds sing for you. The leaves cover you from the scorch of the sun. Time slows down a tad. And your mind unclouds. Life goes on around you without your help as it should. It’s healthy to take a time out.

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That’s exactly what I did a few weekends ago at Christ in the Wilderness, a solitude retreat in Stockton, IL.

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The tiny little chapel on the property is open all day and night and perfect for solitude meditation. Every retreatant is given a bandana. If you wish to be alone in the chapel, you tie the bandana to the outside door knob and everyone respects your wishes to be alone.

When I start to feel like my wheels are coming undone and life starts to get hectic, I know it’s time for a retreat.

Forest Floor Mushrooms Watercolor Sketch

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I have a choice.

I can let worry hijack my thoughts or I can just say, no, to them. It’s an epiphany.

What I find helpful is to journal about the worry and or anxiety, let it all out. And by journaling, I mean hand writing…analog not digital. Why? Because the thought travels from your brain, through your nerve endings, down your spine, down your arm, and on to paper. You’re contemplating each stroke. You’re not letting a keyboard form the letters for you. There is something about this process that is healing.

Now, if I’m angry about the worry, I will hand write in ALL CAPS as if I’m shouting, using more pressure on the paper, darker letters. My formed words have expression to them. They are not just punched monotone letters. They have urgency and emotion.

Next, the most important part……
I give it up to God. And then I choose to say, no, to the next thought of worry. No! I do not allow it any more of my energy or space in my mind. For the Word says:

You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the Rock eternal.
Is 26:3-4

There is no freedom in allowing worry to consume your mind. There is freedom in laying it at Christ’s feet and saying, no, to a returning thought.

Now, where do mushrooms fit in to the equation?

Sometimes being weighed down by worry can cause you to stop doing what you love. It’s such a heavy invisible weight that suddenly you can’t seem to muster the physical effort for the activities that you used to look forward to. Write your worries out, give them to God, then let them go, then do the things you love. Go for a walk. Be able to see those little mushrooms because your mind will be free to play and explore. Paint! See a friend!

You have a choice. Leave everything in His care.

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Difference Between Watercolor Underwash and Pastel/Turpentine Underwash with a Pastel Painting

What is an underwash? With a pastel painting, it is the first layer of the painting. Why are underwashes needed? Because it either covers the media, saving you from using too much soft pastels, or has a desirous effect with your painting. We will discuss both. In both of these examples, I am using a 10″x8″ Ampersand Pastel Board.

Example #1  Watercolor Underwash

In this example I used watercolor as a first step underneath my pastel painting.
Pros: Watercolors have a cool effect. The water spreads the pigment and the clouds look soft, distant trees look realistic without much effort. Let the watercolors do what watercolors do…..spread on their own. Do you see under the clouds? It looks as if rain is descending on the ground….I did not do this intentionally, the watercolors spread on their own and like magic it looks realistic.
Cons: When dry, the watercolors dry very, very light. Apply dark if possible.

When applying soft pastels on top, do not cover the whole painting. Let the watercolor underwash show through. This enables you to achieve a 3D effect, effortlessly.

Example #2  Turpentine and Pastel Underwash

In this example I scribbled a little pastel color and blended it on my board with turpentine and a bristle brush. A little goes a long way.
Pros: It takes very little pastel scribbled on your board to cover the entire surface. It actually takes a lot less than what I used. Just apply a tiny bit of pastel color and with a clean bristle brush, spread it with turpentine. Pastels are expensive, but if you use this method you will not waste much soft pastel.
Cons: Not much of a 3D effect, rather flat, but many layers can be applied for a dimensional look.

Both methods are fun. These two examples were done on Ampersand Pastel Boards. These methods will NOT work with regular pastel paper. The water with the watercolor and the turpentine in method #2 will destroy regular pastel paper.

Explore and have fun! Layer and see where it takes you.