Plein Air Doodling and Spirograph Template

Jul 30, 2015

Some of my best friends are artists–real ones. They have easels and oil paints and watercolors–the whole artist kaboodle. The results on their canvases actually look like what they attempted to paint. Today I was lucky enough to go with three friends while they painted in a beautiful garden on the edge of the Blue River. I sat in the midst of a cluster of huge stones near the river surrounded by an abundance of colorful wildflowers. While my friends stood at easels and painted the still-snow-topped mountains, the water, the flowers, and the trees, I doodled/prayed a birthday card for one of my nieces. “You are a plein air doodler,” said my friend Amy.

Even though I would love to be able to draw or paint a flower that looked like a flower, I enjoyed the en plein air (in open air) experience of being in nature with friends and soaking up the sun and the lush summer ambience. Inspired by all of the flowers, I held up my pre-drawn birthday template and traced the shadows of several wildflowers and weeds on the sides of the paper. I didn’t know how to add the actual details of the flowers, so I customized the tracings with some quirky lines and stripes and colored them.The result was playful and for a whole hour my need for artistic competence vanished.

Lennon Bday 2015 resized













To make a spirograph template similar to the one I used for the card, here are some simple instructions:

1) Cut out a random shape on card stock or cardboard.
2) Use a push pin and tack the shape onto white paper on top of a piece of cork or corrugated cardboard. Rotate the shape around once to make sure it fits on the paper.
3) Trace around the shape with a pencil or pen.
4) Rotate the shape and trace around it again. If you want lots of intricate spaces in the template, rotate the shape a small amount. If you want larger spaces, move it more. I think I counted sixteen tracings in the template below. Try to rotate the shape the same amount each time.

Spirograph and Corkboard











Below is the template I used for the card,  Click on the word jpg or pdf to download. Make sure to download first, then print.

 .jpg       OR      .pdf

Spirograph Template 2015 resized





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