Creativity Workshop: Painting Off-Road

Gator 16
(watercolor on paper, 22×26) by Kathleen Maling

Local environments have been inspiring artists since the first caveman mixed a batch of yellow ochre thousands of years ago. I live in Florida, and while most people think of South Beach and Disney World when they think of this area, there’s a primitive beauty in the mangrove and cypress swamps here that most tourists don’t take the time to explore. These are the subjects that excite and inspire me to paint; they’re also the subjects that are unique to my state.

Finding subject matter that’s exclusive to your own environment may require an excursion and some exertion, but it’s well worth the effort. From swamps and alligators to cornfields and crows, this country plays host to countless unique settings. It’s up to you to locate–and paint–your own. What subjects best portray your area?

(Read the full text of Maling’s column in the October issue of Watercolor Artist. Order by clicking here.)

Try It!
Research your local environment and decide what makes it unique. Then consider methods of intimately exploring it in ways you might not normally attempt: by trail, by water, or even by air. Always be aware of your surroundings and pack appropriate equipment. If you’re spending time on the water, be sure to carry your camera or other electronics in an airtight, waterproof container. (Kathleen Maling is pictured here, using her canoe to search for subjects in their natural environments.)

Get together with your painting group, or complete the Creativity Workshop Activity on your own; then tell us about it. Send a JPEG image (with a resolution of 72 dpi) of your painting to We’ll publish a selection of the entries on our website and choose a favorite. One winner will receive a $100 gift certificate from Jerry’s Artarama. The deadline for entry is October 20, 2008. To see more Creativity Workshop Activities and a gallery of reader responses, click here.

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