Thursday, June 13, 2019

Fine Art, the Computer, and Nature: Lynn Wollstadt Paints in Pixels

On the Wisconsin River, 2018

Get in your canoe . . . drift down the Current River in Missouri . . . camp on the river . . . and then get our your iPad and paint some digital art on your computer canvas. This is how computer artist Lynn Wollstadt finds and expresses her muse.

April, Current River and Canoe

Lynn creating computer art "en plein air" on the Current River

Last January Lynn bought a new iPad, a "fancy Apple pencil," and now draws all the time using AdobeSketch software. "It's so convenient!" she says. Although there are many apps for drawing, she picked AdobeSketch because it seemed so simple and would let her do what she wanted, which was to just draw realistically in different media, "the same ones I would use in real life but never get around to because of the hassle of supplies, set-up, and needing a dedicated work space." The iPad solution allowed Lynn to integrate her art easily into her busy professional teaching schedule. With her computer art, she was able to return to the artistic passion that she had when she was younger and "drew constantly for a few years, winning a prize or two in high school, but never taking an art class in college."

The Turtle-Flambeau flowage on the Wisconsin River
"As far as the process goes, when I feel like drawing (which is pretty much every day, especially now that it’s summer I have have more time), I just reach for my iPad, open a project, and draw! As I’ve gotten more proficient at learning the features of the app (at first I didn’t know how to make the watercolor stop spreading—it acts like real watercolor on wet paper), I’ve changed my methods some. I’ll often do a first layer with a pencil sketch, then open a new layer and start in colors. You can show or hide layers, rearrange them, make them more or less opaque, and I’m sure there are still lots of things I don’t know about." 
 When Lynn works with AdobeSketch and the Apple Pencil, she never overlays a photo--"that seems like cheating to me (but you can totally do that)." She usually has a photo up on her phone and her iPad on her lap when she draws. "The cool thing about using AdobeSketch (or one of the other art apps) is that I can choose pencil, watercolor, acrylics, or any other kind of media. It's really amazing. I took a photo of a friend at the dog park a couple weeks ago and then did a 'pencil' sketch at home; it looks just like pencil. I tend to do landscapes in watercolor, with maybe pen when I need finer lines."

The first camping trip on which Lynn computer painted was on the canoe trip on Missouri's Current River in April. "We canoed and camped on gravel bars for three nights. I drew every day, but not everything was a keeper. The only one I finished on the spot was the moonrise pic, which was so satisfying because it was so beautiful and COMPLETELY didn’t show up when I tried to take a picture."

Moonrise on the Current River

"I love drawing in nature!" Lynn says. "Sometimes it was too sunny and even with my no-glare screen covering it was too bright to really see what I was doing, but I spent quite a bit of time drawing on that trip....often lying in my hammock drawing the trees above me. The picture of the Current River I started drawing there and then finished at home, looking at different photos. I am finding nature scenes are my favorite to draw just now because I work from photos from previous trips, and it helps me remember!"

The Current River, Missouri

Lynn and her family always tent camp. They do like the idea of a tiny camp trailer for sometime in the future, but for now, their main goal for camping is to not be near other people. "That’s why we love canoe camping so much!" They are not backpackers, and took up camping again by car camping nine years ago.  They had not camped for decades. "I did have some old camping equipment, so our first couple of trips were car camping at small Michigan state forest campgrounds. Then over the next couple of years we discovered canoe camping on rivers in Wisconsin and realized it was ideal for us. Camping in completely isolated places, accessible only by water, but we were still able to bring plenty of gear, a cooler, and our dogs!"

Evening camp on the Current River

Portraits are a challenge Lynn enjoys. "Drawing any kind of portrait is a very intimate experience, really staring at a face and figuring out how that person is put together." She likes to draw the people she cares about, and she always draws from photos that "reveal the personality of the subject."

Lynn Wollstadt, self-portrait

However, landscape painting is Lynn's favorite right now, "hands down, because I'm so desperate to go camping and won't be able to for another couple of weeks at least." When she camps and takes her own photographs, while painting those places from the photos, "the scene takes me back there . . . feeling the air, hearing the sounds." How can we blame her? That's why we all like camping. It's easy to understand Lynn's enthusiasm for canoe camping, right? It's kind of like aquatic tiny trailer camping!

Below is a painting by Lynn of a sandbar on the Wisconsin River, composed from a photo she took last year while camping. Following the painting is a time-lapse video that shows the step-by-step process by which the above painting was created.

Wisconsin River

For those of us tiny trailer campers who like Lynn's digital art, when asked if she'd draw any tiny trailer "portraits" as commission work, she said, "I'd love to!" Her art webpage is Drawings by Design, which includes images of her art and FAQs. She also has photos of her work posted on her Facebook page, Lynn Wollstadt, Artist

However, we here at Green Goddess Glamping hope that you won't be able to contact Lynn for a time--a few days or weeks or maybe a month, that she'll be off into the wild, camping and painting "in completely isolated places, accessible only by water." Sounds just plain wonderful!

(To read all the Green Goddess Glamping art and craft articles, check out the Art and Craft Activities label link, which aggregates all similar posts.)

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  1. Wow, love her work! I didn't know there was such a thing as drawing and painting digitally!

    Canoe camping sounds fun but I don't know if Katie would stay in the canoe!

    1. I canoe camped on the Current River once with my son on a school field trip. Steering is tricky! Lynn's art is pretty amazing in that such things are possible.