July Already?!

Woah. Where does the time go? I know, I was all sorts of ambitious at the beginning of summer and I have 1 whopping blog post to show for it. I’m just popping in to tell ya I’ve been a little swamped. One of the things I love about working for myself is I get to have control over everything, and oddly, one of the things I hate about working for myself is wearing all of the hats. Sometimes I just want to paint but someone has to build a website and frame and photograph and edit photos and test print and… Then the kids came home… You get the idea. But I finally got some boxes of my to-do list checked and the online storefront is up and running, although all sorts of wonky alignment. Go check it out! (If you know how to fix the alignment, PLEASE message me!) And what looks like it should be so simple to throw together is so much work that I’ve done very little painting in the last couple of weeks. Thankfully, I have a system down now for getting work online and I can get back to what I love. This weekend the weather looks to be glorious and I’ll be out at Lake Carlos State Park painting my heart out.

Go outside! It’s good for you!

Plein Air in MN State Parks

Earlier this year I was intreged by a website I stubbled across called Paint the Parks. The premise is an opportunity for artists to paint the National Parks with a message of nature preservation for future generations. Inspired but limited ability to participate on such a large scale, I decided to do something similar close to home. I am fortunate to live on the south end of Lake Carlos located on the edge of Alexandria, MN. A 7 minute drive gets me to the north end of Lake Carlos and Lake Carlos State Park. Can’t really get much more convenient!

The park has a fantastic trail system and unlimited inspiration. Sandy beach on Lake Carlos, wetlands with smaller ponds and lakes, deciduous forests of oak, maple, and aspen intersperced with open prairie. If you can’t find something inspirational here to paint, I just don’t know what to tell you. My goal is to spend the summer plein air painting Lake Carlos State Park and do my best to capture how lovely west central Minnesota is. And then next summer, I’ll pick a couple more state parks to travel to, and the next a few more. Maybe one day I’ll have painted all of them! It’s a lofty but worthwhile goal to celebrate the intersection of art and Minnesota’s beautiful park system. I hope to do it justice.

No Better Time To Start

I honestly planned on starting all of this much earlier, but being bogged down mentally with the implecations of Covid19 and having 2 kids to get through distance learning, it just didn’t happen. But yesterday was my day. I didn’t get out nearly as early as I would have liked either but nothing about plein air painting is ever perfect and for someone like me, I can use a little grace in the need to for perfection.

Beautiful weather. 78 Degrees and sunny, but windy so I opted for watercolors rather than my oils. I arrived at the park about 4:30pm, hosed myself down with bug spray, and wandered around for awhile remembering how much I enjoy being in the woods alone and going at my own pace following whatever trail strikes my fancy. I love hiking with my kids, but it always feels like a race to get nowhere.

Eventually I settled on a wetland overlook with an easy place to set my stuff down since I didn’t have an easel or portable camp table along. I quickly fell into the rhythm of painting outside again. Watercolor dries fast, especially in the wind and sun, so my little 5 x7 didn’t take long to come together. I lingered longer than I needed to watching the dragonflies zoom around and trying to catch a glimpse of a vole running back and forth under the grass. Redwing black birds had an ongoing conversation I couldn’t follow. I was glad to be there and pausing with purpose.

Photo of wetlands at Lake Carlos State Park and plein air watercolor painting.
Plein air watercolor at Lake Carlos State Park.



I just wanted to pop in and say thank you for checking out my corner of the internet. I have some new artistic goals for the next year that I think will be fun to share with you here. It will give you insight into my creative process and you will get the chance to know me a little better. Feel free to reach out if you have questions! ~ Chanda