If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I managed to briefly escape winter by spending the last week of February in San Jose del Cabo, Mexico. It's no secret that this has been a horribly cold and brutal winter, so I felt very fortunate to get away. I enjoyed every moment of the warm weather, sunshine, and the welcome return of shorts and flip flops. I actually didn't think I was a beach vacation type of person, but it turns out that I was very, very wrong. The days were easily filled with reading, painting, listening to the boom of the ocean waves crashing a few feet away, and yes, I'll admit, enjoying a few margaritas. But most importantly, the time away was inspiring.
The friend I traveled with stated that a beach vacation is good for the soul, and this turned out to be very, very true. The huge expanse of beach, which was often empty, save for a few other tourists occassionally wandering by, turned out to be the perfect muse for my watercolor sketching. I'll always love wandering the busy streets of New York or hiking a trail in a national park, but a few days on a beach convinced me of the power of unplugging, relaxing, and the magic of simply warming up in the middle of winter.
The long, quiet days allowed for ample time to pull out my sketchbook, which made me remember just how important the practice is. I also did a lot of reading and planning, including being inspired by the latest issue of UPPERCASE magazine, particularly the article about Austin Kleon and his new book, Show Your Work. Now that I've returned to normal life and the promise of many more weeks of winter, I want to continue painting and sketching as much as possible. I mentioned a few weeks ago that I wanted to commit to a new personal painting challenge, so while enjoying the sunshine, sand, and inspiration, I was also busy plotting my winter distraction.
March can be a challenging month with the continued snow and cold temperatures. It can seem like spring is never going to arrive. So to help distract me, I'm going to commit to 3 paintings a week during the month of March. They can be quick sketches, like what I did in Mexico, or more detailed paintings, or anything in between. Each week will have a theme -- a boundary to work within. This past week I stared at the same surroundings each day, but I was endlessly inspired within the constraints of the unchanging, distant horizon, a limited palette of blues and tans, and simply capturing the present moment. I'm hoping to find some similar inspiration within my self-prescribed themes (some broad, some personal) and that it will lead to something deeper and fuller than the basic starting idea. Just like my recent beach vacation.
I'll be back here tomorrow to kick off the first week, but first, here a few looks inside my sketchbook from the week in San Jose del Cabo.