Above: St. Paul artist Pat Beaubien discusses her nature/travel journals at the March 2012 MCBA Visual Journal Collective. Here she shows a watercolor of a meadow near Grand Marais, MN where she rents a cabin as frequently as possible. Click on the image to view an enlargement.
First, before we go any further, Pat Beaubien doesn't currently have a website so what I was able to snap photos of is what you'll be able to see until she develops a website. You might encourage Pat to do that, she's tired of hearing me say it. If you would like to contact Pat with questions about her artwork you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On March 19, St. Paul artist Pat Beaubien came to the MCBA Visual Journal Collective to show her nature/travel journals to the members.
Pat is a watercolor artist who also uses pens and pencils of different sorts, "Give me one and I'll try it out," she said laughing, when someone asked if she ever used watersoluble colored pencils. In her hands ordinary tools are given a new life and direction.
Left: a stack of Pat's journals ready for discussion, along with her small leather pencil case which holds all of her supplies—several sizes of Niji Waterbrushes (including a flat), a Staedtler Pigment Liner, a Pentel Pocket Brush pen, and her mini palette filled with Daniel Smith Watercolors. Click on the image to view an enlargement.
Pat's idea of travel is to go to one destination and spend 2 or three weeks there sketching—not moving about trying to see a travel guide's highlight points. It is more satisfying to get to know one place, and Pat does this through her painting.
Until her recent retirement Pat taught art to elementary school children. She would use her vacations to travel and paint. She would sell her paintings, made on site, to fund her trips. (When you view the stunning beauty of Pat's work you can understand how this was possible.)
During the school year, however her painting side was dormant. Teaching took her focus and energy. "Then in 2007 I took Roz's nature journaling class in Grand Marais," said Pat, "and took to heart her comment about doing a little sketching and painting everyday. It's amazing how quickly you can improve when you work everyday."
(Note: Pat was already more "improved" than most artists I see when I had her in class. I'm glad I had an effect on her practice.)
Left: Cone flowers and other blooms in a Grand Marais garden, share space with a local artist's garden sculpture. Grand Marais may have more artists per capita than any other town in the U.S. There are things to look at and purchase everywhere. This watercolor sketch is in one of her 9 x 12 inch Fabriano Venezia journals. Click on the image to view an enlargement.
Pat still uses the same mini kid's palette she got in class (refilled many times), Niji waterbrushes (also replaced over time), and Staedtler Pigment Liners. She'll experiment with new pens as people suggest them and she has become quite fond of the Pentel Pocket Brush pen.
The palette contains the following Daniel Smith watercolors: Quin Gold, Azo Yellow, Burnt Sienna, Quin Pink. Napth. Maroon, Cobalt Teal, Phthalo. Turquoise, Indanthrone Blue, and Zinc White. The set originally contained Buff Titanium but Pat says she hasn't replaced that. Also she is thinking about replacing the Cobalt Teal to get a different range in her mixes.
Pat will sometimes do a light pencil sketch before moving to watercolor. Other times Pat will sketch directly with pen and then apply watercolor. Her method, she explained, is just what happens when she is seated and ready to paint.
While she initially continued making books of the type she learned to make in Grand Marais (8 x 10 inch sewn-on the spine journals), the urge to just paint was great, so she moved on to the Fabriano Venezia 9 x 12 inch journals. (Pat loves the large page size in both these books, and you only have to look at the results to see that's a great size for her work.)
Left: Pat sketches lakeside in the North Woods. Often one of her artist friends Nanette Lee will join her—you can see Nan in the bottom left of the image. Click on the image to view an enlargement.
As she spends more time up north exploring, revisiting painting sites she has previously discovered, Pat has considered returning to flat paintings but she was unsure how to store them. The Collective threw out a variety of portfolio options she could use to house the final paintings in "journal" form.
After her presentation and a round of questions the 25 attendees gathered around the table to get a personal look through Pat's journals, and continue the conversation. We all left inspired and ready to jump back into our own journals after our trip into nature with Pat.
Below: A view of a stone bridge on Lake Superior, using Daniel Smith Watercolors. Click on the image to view an enlargement.
If you would like to know a little bit more about Grand Marais and some of the artists living and visiting there you can check out this short film on the yearly "Plein Air Brush Off." Tom Winterstein supplied this link after the topic came up in discussion.
UPDATE 4.13.12: Want to see more photos of Pat's work and the event? Go to Briana Goetzen's blog post at Courageously Creating. (Thank you Briana for capturing so much with your camera.)