Creative Process

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.

April in 8 ways - monthly {re}View

landscape study, mixed-media, Hali Karla

Today, on this last day of April, I offer a glimpse at a reflective practice that makes a wonderful habit for seeing creative connections coming to life or closure - or inviting you in for further exploration moving forward.

Join in for your month of April, if you like.

Here’s how: Flip through your art, sketchbooks, journals, planner pages, IG photos, book highlights, etc. for the last month or so - and acknowledge the moments and threads of connection that seem to speak to you today, as you softly welcome in the month of May.

I like simple approaches, and lists with an end in sight, these days.

So here’s my public April reView peek…

8 ways i’m being moved somehow this month

sketching, creative practice, Hali Karla
  • My art this past month has had a focus on the ever-healing subject of landscapes and dreamscapes. A returning focus for me. A blend and dance between studies abstracted, and abstractions with hints of reality. To ground in nature is an ultimate Source of connection and healing for me. To glorify, contemplate and explore her beauty and curiosities in my art-making practice is much the same. On one hand it is fun, messy textures, patterns and color experimentation; on the other hand, it is communion and witness that transforms something in me.

    I have some goodies to share here in May…

  • That said, I have spent a great deal of time this month creating video lessons and fun explorations of related things, that I can’t divulge much else about just yet. I love being able to create, encourage, teach, learn and share in this way, though - and can’t wait to tell you more about what’s cooking.

dream-catching, art journal creative practice, Hali Karla Arts
  • From a journal page: Am I a practitioner of anything at all if I’m always changing my approach? Or do I have a wider view to offer for that very experience of seeing and trying so many ways of exploring, expressing, finding, serving?

  • From another journal page, a capture. Not my words, but I tend to agree:

    The problem is when ritual takes the place of recognition and relationship. Yes, I feel that. I love a good ritual, but may we never forget how the ritual is intended to point us, to steer our steps toward presence with one another, our true self, our service, our Source.

landscape sketch study, acrylic painting on paper, Hali Karla Arts
  • So very thankful for precious in-the-flesh visits with soul-deep friends these past couple of months. Who have their eyes not focused on judgment of others, but set to discover Presence and transformation-invitations in their life and relationships. And their hearts set on becoming better, more loving humans as best they can.

    Thank you thank you thank you for all the good people of this world doing their self-awareness soulwork

  • Tomorrow is Beltane. And in April we ended another season that includes welcoming in the cycles of life, creation and relationship… Lent has moved into Easter. I have gone to an Easter vigil service in the dark of the morning for two years now.

    In many ways it takes me back to times around the sweat-lodge circle, felt truths about how we are all so much more alike than different…. There is fire outdoors and prayers and song, and recognition of light in the dark, and what it means to choose hope and live in reverence and gratitude for the gift of life. There is the moon, and then the sun in the sky above. I love this sort of observance and ritual for what it points to, and how it can anchor us in seasons, God’s love and intentional connection.

    I also made the mandala prayer circle below for a Lenten devotional this year. It came about in a contemplative painting session I enjoyed very much, and this month I received many warm words about the little touch of beauty it brought to the 40 day prayer lives of others.

prayer art mandala meditation for a parish lenten devotional, Hali Karla
  • Despite some resistance in this new season of my creative business, I decided to practice what I teach and trust my intuition come what may - and quietly opened registration for a live-online Creative Practice Circle, beginning May 29. There are some seats left to claim - i hope you’ll join us!

  • that’s 8 already? See how easy this is. There’s so much more - sometimes it’s enough to just see that.

    Let’s end with a few sources of inspiration and interest for me this past month.

    Perhaps they hold something for you:

    • The Creativity Habit podcasts hosted by Daphne Cohn - I don’t know who Jesh de Rox is, but his interview was full of gems, and that was my gateway to the rest of the podcast guests, which I’m still exploring

    • Did you know that there are 8 ways of Aboriginal learning? I woke up one day with 2 words in my head… 8 ways. So I googled it later that day. I do not pretend to know why that little breadcrumb trail showed up for me and I’m not oging to overthink it… but I resonated with the visual on that page immediately. Maybe it has something to do with the freaky large blue-cat in my dreams last night…

    • Want to remember things better, connect with them more, listen closer? Draw a Picture

    • Asia Suler - a local herbalist here in Asheville that some of you may know online (she taught in my program Spectrum a few years back) - recently spoke to why she rarely gets intuitive readings anymore, and her words resonated so deeply with why I have steered a bit away from astrology - which has been a big piece of my offerings the past two years.

      Right now, consulting the celestial placements is an unnecessary step in the practice of trusting my intuition.

      It has helped me greatly in the past with healing, and in building trust, awareness and acceptance for myself - and I do adore giving birth chart readings to those who want to explore one-on-one! It’s fun and really does awaken a sense of connection, life-awe, validation and challenge - and encourages expression and development of our truest selves.

      But for now, for me, I’m just not reaching for my own chart and transits anymore. I can feel the moon’s rhythms, and that’s plenty.

      I am practicing a deeper patience and surrender to my life experience, intuitive sense (of Spirit) and trust in a greater unfolding (knowing very well by now that my chart holds a reflection of even that).

      A season for everything, I suppose…

painting on panel wip, acrylic mixed-media, Hali Karla

As you end this month…

…you might also give a moment of quiet recognition for those in your life who are struggling or in times of grief or transition.

On my heart, in a wider sense, are prayers for all to have religious freedom and be able to worship and pray together however they choose, without fear. For those with no land or home, with desperation, trauma and uncertain futures and hungry, tired families to be welcomed, as worthy as any of us to the land of this earth we call home, but truly do not own at all.

April was rich, hard and full of beauty. One of those months where there was definite shifting within, even more than I can put my finger on. It’s an ongoing cycle after all, this creative path - not an arrival point.

I think I’ll continue to put my ear to the life and people in front of me, help when I can, choose trust and love, do my work and keep painting worlds about it for a bit…

How about you? Gratitudes, prayers, intentions? Feel free to share…

to create is to invite vulnerability

diatom and portrait, art journal page, Hali Karla Arts

Every time I hit send to invite folks to an offering, I find myself navigating tender waters within.

How will it be received? Will folks accept the invitation? Will my readers be interested? Did I adequately express the heart and inspiration behind the creation or offering? Will that resonate beyond me?

It's not unfamiliar territory to an artist at all, but interesting how it is consistent in the process and experience, no matter how many years you move through the cycle.

I suppose the audacity - for those of us lit by undeniable creative fires - is that we have to keep trying... whether a thing is received in the way we hope or not.

There is a creative spirit that gives us the insight to see something that wants form, and the breath to try to give it the attention it calls for, and learn something in the process of offering it up. This is true for humans, not just humans who identify as artists, of course.

The past few days have been one of these all-too-familiar work-waves in my creative process, culminating with this morning - when I opened doors for my next offering, the Creative Practice Circle, and shared it with my subscribers.

It is not flashy or full of big promises and strategic pre-launch hype. Instead, it comes from a place of deep joy, percolating intuition and a tinge of rebellious realness - the kind that tries to listen to the voice that says, 'not the way everyone else is doing it. no, not that way. try this way. follow the connections you sense; it’s about more than you. ok - now, it’s ready, imperfect and true and ready to share.’

Painting can be like that, too. And writing, and sketching, and making a song… creating anything at all from an inspired, honest place within, really.

This new live-online Creative Practice Circle won't be for everyone - but seats are already being claimed today, and that fills my heart - as I know the circle and time together in Creative Practice will fill those who show up.

The mysterious gift of it all becoming something I merely initiate and hold space for, makes my own tender process of visioning, tending details, and sharing an invitation, come what may, all worthwhile.

Where my Spirited muse calls, I follow - to see what can happen, beyond me.

Is there an invitation, idea or offering imprinted on your creative heart, that you’ve felt called to make, explore, express, or accept and show up to? I hope you’ll trust that call and follow where it leads you.

If you like, learn more and join the Creative Practice Circle


also… diatoms are most amazing, don’t you think? (that’s what you see on the left side of my art journal spread above). they have a huge impact on our climate for such mysterious little things. i’ve been fascinated by them for decades... they’ve inspired my clay and paint creations in the past, and i seem to circle back to them periodically in a contemplative sort of way. they’re like a mysterious key i haven’t figured out yet in my visual language. good stuff.