free resources and tips

FREE guide: how to take your Creative Practice out in nature for an art date

FREE guide for taking your Creative Practice outside - considerations, tips and peeks at my process to help you discover and cultivate a soul-filling sketchbook or art journaling practice out ‘in the field’ and to gather inspiration for your practice at home… come grab this gift. | Hali Karla Arts

If you have ever wanted to take your Creative Practice outside, or haven’t done it in awhile, or just felt curious about it when I shared some of my favorite supplies and tips for making art outside last month… then this 16 page colorful guide may be just the spark your Creative Practice needs.

Taking a sketchbook, art journal or painting out in nature for a simple art date is such good medicine for the soul - even if you never actually pull your art supplies out of your bag once you get to your location.

But if you do - and I hope you will - you will find your senses and curiosity amplified, your approaches to your practice challenged or nudged in just the right ways, and your creative heart can fill up with inspiration to take home with you to explore later.

Art heals. And so does being in nature.

With the right approach, the combination can be a perfect relief for the stressors, anxiety and overwhelm of day-to-day life, too.

It’s one of my very favorite ways to decompress, or to percolate on decisions I’m navigating without actually (over)thinking about them.

So I put together this guide to share with you, in case you are popping by and it is just what you need as well right now.

And if you don’t know what the heck you need to feel your creative energy or zest for life again, give this a try. It just might do the trick. Communing with nature is funny like that, I find. She knows what we need, and she holds us so well.

So much of keeping a Creative Practice is really a practice in presence, a practice in relating, a way of slowing down and meditating or dwelling in the life that IS (ours).

landscape study, mixed-media art journal sketchbook, Hali Karla

Here’s a bit more about this 16 page colorful guide…

Creative Practice in Place

Creating outdoors, you can leave all perfectionism behind, rest+play in the exploration of your curiosity, and experiment with how you might visually express what you see and feel in communion with nature’s beauty.

This free guide offers encouragement & tips for preparing and taking your art-making out “in the field” of nature, filling your creative well there, and bringing back home what you discover and notice for further exploration. It includes a peek at one of my nature-art-dates.

No previous art or plein-air experience necessary.
You were born to create and connect with nature!

So my friends, are you curious? Would you like to receive this gift & guide?

Pop your name + email in below, and it will automagically land in your inbox in a few minutes.

You’ll also be all set to receive my Creative Practice Notes 1-2 times per month to further inspire and nurture your creative explorations and process (and you can easily unsubscribe anytime, of course!).

I hope this short guide+invitation will inspire you to revive, try or begin a simple and regular art-making date with Mother Nature herself.

I find that creative time with nature - away from screens, lists, noise and the usual distractions, expectations and obligations of life - can help us remember who we are in our dynamic, inspired wholeness, as well as (re)activate our awareness of our innate interconnection to the miracle and cycles of Life and Creation.

my favorite supplies and tips for making art outside

here are some of my favorite art supplies for taking my creative practice outside (Hali Karla Arts)

Getting outside in the warmer months - to explore, observe, and make a little art out in the elements - can really rejuvenate a Creative Practice.

Even if it’s just in your yard or near home, nature is full of surprises and invitations… not to mention rest and replenishment for your soul and intuition.

If you are unable to spend much time outdoors due to health reasons, you can still take into consideration how you might limit or condense your supplies into a simplified ‘kit’ as you experiment with nature-inspired art-making and contemplations indoors.

Personally, I love Love LOVE getting out into some new or familiar location to create art pages and studies.

Things can get a little stagnant and routine, and I can get a little antsy if I don’t fill my creative spirit this way.

And if I can’t get away from the house for some reason, I have been known to just set up a portable table or blanket outside in the yard, pack supplies into a bag or bin as if I were traveling somewhere, and just let the sun and breeze hit me while I make, listen and play. It’s good, good, medicine.

Below are a few ideas about supplies for making art outside, from my experience. Some might seem obvious, but if you are venturing somewhere new or away from home, a little forethought goes a long way.

things to consider when making art outside (Hali Karla Arts)

Consider the weather & terrain where you’ll be going, of course. Think: sunscreen, poncho, comfortable clothing and shoes. A hat, perhaps? Will there be bathroom access? Does it matter for the length of time you plan to spend?

The item on the right in the image above is a portable easel that I picked up a few years ago, and that I use all the time. It is small, lightweight, and super affordable. It fits well in a standard backpack.

I also use it on the livingroom floor when watching movies - which I can rarely do without doodling or making art! Or when I’m reading or painting at my table and need to give my neck a rest from bending over.

AND while it’s nice to have, it is totally optional and unnecessary for making art outside.

Sometimes I take it, sometimes I don't.

some art supplies I like for taking my creative practice outside. more in the post… (Hali Karla Arts)

I personally don't take fancy surfaces or art journals out into the field very often.

I like to sketch and paint on a regular, mixed-media or watercolor sketchbook. Or, more rarely, I might take a loose canvas or panel.

I do love it when I remember to take my viewfinder! It’s a great way to play with visualizing composition and proportion - and to just spend time seeing the different creative possibilities for expression or imagery in the place you’re visiting.

some of my favorite art supplies for creative practice outside - more in post (Hali Karla Arts)
some of the art supplies I might bring when I take my Creative Practice outside (more in post at Hali Karla Arts)

The image above and below are just a couple of variations of what I might take.

I switch it up, depending on my mood.

Not pictured is a little travel spray bottle - I use it all the time in-the-field.

some favorite art supplies to bring when taking Creative Practice outside (more on post at Hali Karla Arts)
a few of my favorite supplies to take outside to make art (more in the post at Hali Karla Arts)

Sometimes I go out with my watercolors and inktense pencils, which can be easiest to play with if you’re new to sketching or paint-sketching outside. They play nice together, too.

Sometimes I go out with a small set of acrylics or gouache paints.

I try not to take all the options, though - and suggest that you choose just one core medium for those times when you go 'out into the field.'

Try several out on different art dates, and see what appeals to you most. Maybe you find that you just love sketching outside best.

If you do experiment with paints outside, leave your fancy paints at home - and be a beginner, a curious and willing imperfectionist.

And don't forget to put water in your water jar or spray bottle!

i share some of my favorite art supplies to take my creative practice outside in this post (Hali Karla Arts)

If the site you'll visit has a river, lake or other body of water, though, it can be fun to ‘bless’ your page and practice by using a little of that water in what you create, too.

Simplicity in your supply choices will really open you up to the depth of your experience and how you engage with the practices of slowing down, observational BEING, SEEING the landscape with all your senses, and getting to know the nature all around you as a living, nuanced, and wise muse for your creative spirit and practice.

I can’t emphasize it enough - do give some consideration to gathering and preparing your 'field supplies' so it’s as easy and comfortable as it can be when you get out there. I want you to love your experience so you get off the screens and out into your brilliant world a bit more to inspire your practice.

Keep in mind, the time of day… it can make all the difference in a hot or rainy season.

Or maybe there’s a particular way the light hits a place you love to escape to… what time of day can you make a little art in presence with that?

i share some of my favorite art supplies for taking creative practice outside in this post (Hali Karla Arts)

Even if you're leaving some of your most beloved supplies or colors behind as you embark on a traveling or creative practice journey, this truly is a great way to freshen up and keep the sparks alive in your regular practice and art.

And besides, those not-so-portable art supplies will be back at home ready for you when you return - to finish up a piece with a fresh eye or start a new one inspired by your adventure, ‘sketches’ and experiments 'in the field.'

Sketching, painting or otherwise getting into your creative zone out in the elements is a wonderful, holistic way to self-care and connect deeply with a place you’ve never been before as well, or that you want to hold or honor in your memory as you move forward.

the spirit of creativity: seek, stay, share | Creative Practice Care (with new painting)

Creative Practice Care & Encouragement | Hali Karla Arts

Shortly after the first blue drip asserted itself on the page - an unplanned, but true-to-process happening - I stepped back, I had that feeling that I’d met this painting before. As if that even makes sense. Which it didn’t. Until it did.

Long before digital filters and effects made it all so mind-numbingly easy, I used to shoot 35mm photos of landscapes, sift through the hundreds, and then meticulously piece chosen ones together in new ways in the darkroom, and then eventually with various software - into double exposures, mandalas or mirrored images. It was a tedious project, looking back on it… but also a meditation of sorts.

This piece began in that old way of seeing and being. First, out in nature with my camera. Then, with the help of some more modern tools to expedite and play with effects and contrast until I felt inspired. The end point was never going to be the digital photo, though. That was just the beginning.

Then, there was sketching - the sound of graphite and pastel scratching on a lightly gessoed page. Then a pause.

Then ink and paint, layer after layer, with many moments of non-doing... maybe even more than the doing moments, ya know? But the painting hung out, a presence. She stayed, I stayed, until timing was right.

New painting + musing at blog (image: painting steps in-process, Hali Karla)

While I love a good energetic expression and lightning moments of gratification, I also love slow art-making. The being of it. The relationship that couldn’t be without that time invested, that shared space. The listening and tending and seeing it through. Maybe it is even the contrast of the two approaches in my practice that interests my creative spirit most. That’s likely.

There is spontaneity in both ways. Whether initiated by me or otherwise. Like that blue drip. It just happened, my mind was initially disappointed… but then, at this point in the game, I know to go with the flow. Quite literally, in this instance.

One became two, and I kept playing with the harmony.

{an emergence of spirit} prayer painting, mixed-media on bristol. 11”x14” Hali Karla

{an emergence of spirit} prayer painting, mixed-media on bristol. 11”x14” Hali Karla

I eventually remembered where I had seen or experienced that blue drip before in my art, and when I found that painting in the studio, that came long before this one, I was struck by the similarity in colors, as well. I’m using different paints and supplies altogether, mixing my colors more, it was an entirely different process approach - but even the core of the palette re-emerged in this very different painting, eight years later.

You can see that first painting HERE, an intuitive one, with a poem you may very well need to read right now if you have a moment. It seems to strike folks at just the right time.

As for the paintings, See the resemblance? It’s funny to me - and maybe only obvious to me - but not so surprising.

You see, you don’t have to find your style or voice or aesthetic. You just have to keep creating. It is already in you. It will take on new forms and voices in different iterations… but you can’t be removed or absent from what you make… because your creative energy and expression is unique to what makes you You. You can stifle it at times, for sure, with imitations or efforts to be what you think you should be or more like someone else. Sometimes it may be quieter as you learn new skills or methods or simply rest without trying so hard.

But ultimately, you are you… and your voice, style, mark-making (on art and life), aesthetic (what you love and have a knack for combining), and the way you see and bring light and connection will emerge and emanate in whatever expression your creative practice takes.

In truth, I find, it is really good for the soul to just trust that, and to let your roots reach down into the heart of today’s practice or focus, whatever form it may take right where you are at, without worrying so much about how the growth may look awkward at times on the surface or whether or not the fruit will appear and ripen in season.

So today’s Creative Practice encouragement is straight from my process to yours, a breadcrumb trail of reflection, including the painting above and then some.

Here is the take-away for your Creative practice Care, encouragement and reflection:

May your curiosity, heartbreak, love and deepest longing guide you when you SEEK. Don’t dismiss those potent calls from Creative Source… see where they lead.

May your attention and devotion help you STAY awhile when you land on something that resonates and asks you to be with your Creative Spirit. Whether it is spontaneously energetic or deliciously slow, trust the rhythm that makes you feel alive and all-in with your process each time you come to your practice. Don’t mistake impatience or frustration for spontaneity, or hesitance or fear for the richness of resting in slow, deliberate expression. Find the rhythm you hunger for in this season or project.

May your heart and hands SHARE generously what you see and discover in your process, as life allows and invites. Your creative practice is for you, yes - but not just you, love. Because it forms you, dwells in you, it moves outward from you. You can’t help that. See what you see, love what you love… even keep the art or writing to yourself, perhaps… but do let the creative spark it ignites speak into your life, choices, relationships, and the next direction you find yourself heading toward.