Soggy, Foggy, Boggy Doodling: tips for sketching whatever the weather

Sketching outdoors in the winter months poses a few obvious challenges. It's all too often cold, wet and very grey, none of which inspires you (or me) to get outdoors. But the physical and mental benefits of putting on your boots and going for a walk with your sketchbook are enormous. So here are a few tips to help you Boggy Doodle your winter blues away:


1. As the famous quote goes, 'There's no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes.' I feel the cold easily, so pile on the layers and LOVE my fingerless gloves.

2. If it's really cold - too cold to linger - focus on speedy sketching. Try to capture the essence of the landscape or feature with quick gestural sketches, using a minimum of lines. Winter trees, for example, are challenging to sketch at the best of times, but even more so when your fingers are frozen. If you're struggling, just focus on recording the overall shape and dominant branch patterns.   

3. Although I don't recommend trashing your sketchbook in heavy rain, you can still doodle in light drizzle, which is just as well in this part of the world. Water-soluble coloured pencils are brilliant on damp paper.  

4. Tempting as it is to wait for the sunshine, don't be put off Boggy Doodling on those (all too common) grim, grey winter days. Foggy weather is perfect for monochrome sketching or painting. The fog eliminates details and colour, helping you focus on dominant shapes and values.  

5. Don't forget to make a quick note of the weather conditions next to your doodles. I guarantee it will make you smile when you later look back through your sketchbook and are reminded of how you braved the elements. 

6. Although it often seems like there's not much colour around at this time of the year, if you look carefully you'll spot green gold catkins, the viridian shoots of snowdrops, burnt orange robins... Take time to note down the colours you spot. Once you start looking, you'll be amazed at how much colour is out there, even in winter. 

7. A flask of hot tea is one of those little luxuries that can make all the difference in winter. I don't remember to take one with me very often but am always glad when I do. Apart from anything, a hot cup of tea keeps your hands warm so you can sketch for longer. 

8. Winter is a great time of year to observe large landscape-scale patterns. Where I live, the stone wall field boundaries create a dramatic mosaic of shapes across the hills.  Look out for patterns created by hedgerows, trees, river meanders and rocky outcrops. 

9. Remember to feed the birds if you're able to. They need as much help as possible at this time of the year. In return, you'll be able to sketch them from the comfort and warmth of your home.  It's easy to stop looking at a bird once you've identified what it is, but by trying to sketch it you'll notice all sorts of beautiful details that you might otherwise miss.  One little way Boggy Doodling can bring joy, even in winter. 

10. If you'd like to learn more about the joys of Boggy Doodling, whatever the weather, you can sign up here for one of my 2018 introductory workshops or get in touch to discuss a bespoke event. Happy Boggy Doodling!