Art Journaling & Intentional Creativity

Camping: A Break for the Artistic Brain

I spent this weekend camping in the North Woods of Wisconsin, and while I didn’t get as much time as I’d hoped to sketch, I did have hours of driving with nothing to do but train the artistic eye – and watch for deer! Most people don’t necessarily connect camping and art, but I’ve found that camping is a great break for the artistic brain.

One thing I noticed was how many different variations on green I found – everything from silvery green in the early morning mist to black-green in the deepest shadows.


Early morning mist in the trees
Early morning mist in the trees near our campsite

I’m looking forward to breaking out the paints later and seeing how many of these greens I can mix!

Lake at Dusk
Lake at Dusk

I love this photo of the lake too – the twilight brings down the level of detail. The trees aren’t individuals any more, they’re big masses of darks contrasting with the blues and purples in the sky and water. This will be a fun painting study.

I don’t go camping as often as I’d like, but it really is a great way to reset the artist’s brain. All the usual expectations are stripped away for a few days – you’re going to get hot, sweaty, and dirty – and if there are showers, they’re not always the cleanest. You’re going to get mosquito bites. If you want to get somewhere, you’re going to walk – and a mile or two is a nice, easy hike. Back here in the suburbs, those are all things we avoid at all costs. Who walks to something that’s two miles away?? Forget it, you drive, preferably with the windows up and the A/C blasting.

But at the same time, we usually spend our weekends running errands and getting caught up on housework or classes or painting projects, so those days aren’t really the restful days off they could be. No wonder we go into Mondays exhausted! We got home from camp yesterday afternoon, and sure, I have a literal mountain of laundry to do and I still have to buy groceries for the week, but I’m also rested (more or less) and re-inspired. For me, that makes a weekend in the woods an artistic pursuit, even if my sketchbook never came out of my backback.

Wild Rasberries
Wild Rasberries

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