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Inspired Mandalas

31 Oct
fruit and logo

Simple Shapes to Inspire Mandala Drawing

madala flower with logo

Mandala Drawing

Mandala Fruit with logo

Fruit Inspired Mandals Drawing, Ink & Watercolor

Mandala flower with logo

Mandala Drawing using stencils

Mandala means “circle” in Sanskrit.  It signifies wholeness and usually begins with a central point with patterns that radiate outward.  Louise Gale (Mandala For the Inspired Artist by Walter Foster Publishing) explains that we are “to think of a mandala as a sacred space.”

Mandalas can occur in nature and are seen in flowers, the moon, the sun, and more.  Although Mandalas are specifically associated with Hindu, Buddhist and Tibetan artwork the geometric patterns can be seen in other cultures.  Often you will see them on buildings, in various art forms, and in religious text and religious items around the world.

I photographed some fruit I had in my home.  The kiwi, clementine and tomato were sliced in half and have some very interesting shapes within.  They gave me a creative starting point for my drawings.  I found the process very relaxing, giving me time to reflect on the intricate beauty of simple things.  Take a look around your home or office and see if you can find simple items to inspire your own Mandala drawing.


Traveling Watercolor Kits

14 Jun



When I prepare my travel art bag, I’m always struggling with the desire to bring every art supply from my studio.  By trial and error I’ve figured out what my bare necessities are.  The picture above shows my two favorite traveling watercolor kits.  The white one is made by Sakura Color Products Corporation and it’s called a “Koi Watercolors Pocket Field Sketch Box”.  It has a removable mixing tray, 24 colors, a nice space for brushes or pens and it even has a pop-out thumb hole on the bottom making it very easy to hold.  My second traveling watercolor set is by Lukas and originally came with tubes of watercolor paint.  Those tubes of paint have been used and now I use the plastic tray to squeeze my own favorite colors into.  Underneath the tray there is room for more brushes or a few paper towels or a small tube of paint.  I have a small blue handle brush on the side of the plastic tray, as you can see in the photo.  The lid makes a great spot for mixing colors.

My favorite sketchbooks have heavier watercolor paper inside but sometimes I just use regular light weight sketchbooks to paint or sketch.  It’s nice if the sketchbook has a heavy cover and a rubber-band to hold it closed.  It will be less likely to fall apart from wear and tear if it’s bound.  I usually throw a pencil and pen into my bag for sketching and a Sakura Aqua-brush.  I also use Pentel Arts brand Aquash water brushes.  The water brushes have a refillable water chamber which makes it possible for me to pull out the brush and immediately start painting.

Making art every day is important for me and bringing supplies along makes it possible.  Travel doesn’t mean I have to give up painting – I can just bring the studio with me.   Painting while traveling is a great way to remember the event and it always makes me smile.


It’s Not All in Your Head

3 Oct
A sketch painting in Katie Turner's art journal.

A couple of pages out of one of my art journals.

Concept is a key part of the creative process.  A lot of times I come up with the concept in my head.   Inspiration can be fleeting sometimes though … and that’s why I keep many of my concepts in my art journals.


Wolves Don’t Lose Sleep

25 Apr
Charcoal Sketch of female angel

“Angel #5″, Charcoal 20″x16”, Katie Turner


“Wolves Don’t Lose Sleep over the Opinions of Sheep” was a phrase Samuel Wolfe Connelly used in a video documentary by Kristin Taylor on YouTube from 2013.  In this video he explains this is a phrase he uses to encourage himself to keep on doing great art and not to be discouraged by opinions or comments of others. That’s something we all can keep in mind, particularly if we create art.

I had the chance to meet this artist on Friday at a Business Luncheon sponsored by the State University of New York at Fredonia. It was held at Fredonia’s Technology Incubator Office in Dunkirk where there is also a small gallery down the hall. Sam spoke about his art, how he handles galleries, commissions and problems. He encouraged students not to give up. After his talk I was able to visit the current Art Exhibit featuring some very talented Fredonia college students (Michael Fridmann & Heather Radford were the featured students). A new Art show of the Dunkirk High School students will begin May 31st.

Sam Wolfe Connelly is a New York City based artist and illustrator. Although he is fairly young, he has accomplished a lot in a short time since he finished his schooling at Savannah College of Art and Design. His illustrations have appeared on covers of books published by Penguin and the London Folio Society editions of “The Great Gatsby” and “Emma”. He also designed a movie poster for Natalie Portman drama “Black Swan” and SpectreVision’s “The Boy” as well as album cover for Howard Shore score for the David Cronenberg film “Scanners”. His list of publication credits includes Scientific American, the New York Times and Marvel Comics. He is represented by Roq La Rue Gallery in Seattle, Hashimoto Contemporary in San Francisco and Arcadia Contemporary in New York City.

With all of these accomplishments as a fine artist and commercial artist, I actually was most impressed with how modest he came across and how candid he was with his presentation. I hold firm to the belief that I can learn something from each artist, no matter their background, medium, subject or age. He was very approachable and hung out for a while after to meet the students and answer more questions.

Sam Wolfe Connelly was an inspiration to me and I am so glad I took the time to attend this event and meet him.

If you’d like to check out the video from 2013:
His website:
And a YouTube video of him demonstrating his graphite technique at Syracuse University:



How Artists Index Their Inspiration

9 Nov
stack of art sketchbooks

Stack of my sketchbooks.

open sketchbook

Pages from one of my sketchbooks.


I finished reading a craft article titled “Indexing Your Inspiration” which described the many ways crafters could invest in organizing their supplies and various examples of ideas for later use.  It seemed more of an advertisement pushing their system as the cure to lack of inspiration, not just another expensive organizational item.

I thought about how I store my inspirational ideas and how I retrieve them for paintings.  I do use photographs, taken by my husband, daughters, myself and others (with permission of course) but rarely print them out anymore.  Most of my pictures are on my computer these days – no more boxes of prints.  I don’t do much more than organize these pictures by year.

I also use my sketchbooks for inspiration.  I didn’t even realize how many I had until I started to pull them off my bookshelf.  The picture above only shows part of my collection.  About half of them are full.  Some contain pencil or ink sketches, some painted with watercolor or acrylic, used indoors or out.  I even use these books to make notes during a workshop, a demo or a presentation.  Drawing the speaker, the scene or room helps me remember the event.  It quickly brings me back to the instruction they were giving.

I don’t really have a formal index of my inspiration.  I’m not sure this would help me as many of my ideas remain in my head!  This would make an interesting subject at an art gathering.   I’d love to hear how other artists organize their inspiration.

French Impressionists Deliver Inspiration

20 Jul
dancer by degas sketch by Katie Turner

Degas Sketch by Katie Turner

Dreamer painting sketch by Katie Turner

Sketch of Chagall painting – Dreamer – by Katie Turner

The Joyous Festival sketched by Katie Turner

Sketch of Gaston LaTouche painting – The Joyous Festival – by Katie Turner

Sketch of renoir painting by katie turner

Sketch of Renoir painting – The Wave – by Katie Turner

Watercolor sketch by Katie Turner

Watercolor Sketch of Marc Chagall’s Bouquet of Flowers with Lovers 1927 by Katie Turner

It’s fun to take a field trip once in a while and summer is the perfect time for it.  I drove about an hour to Utica, New York  for the “Monet to Matisse: The Age of French Impressionism” show at the Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute.  My watercolor sketches above show a couple of my absolute favorites.  You can get an idea of how I sketch – I do make some notes on the colors, and I really only sketch my favorite parts of the paintings in order to remember.

I found the show very inspirational.  I can’t believe I can get that close to these original paintings and really soak them in.  The tour/talk the gallery offers is terrific but I went back and spent another hour just sitting in front of my favorite paintings and really studying them.  I pulled out my sketchbook and got busy because the gallery doesn’t allow pictures.  I spent some time roaming around other rooms after a delicious lunch at the gallery café and discovered a tiny room with Pratt Student works.  I was very impressed with the amazing work these students had on display.  There were paintings, sketches, collage, 3-D objects with moving parts and more.  These talented students were:  Maxine Greij, Nichole Hess, Jared Diaz, Caleb Wesley Young Shelton, Taisha Carrington, Ji Hye Kim, Madaline Gardner, Adam Heisig, Ching An Wu, Ruby Ann Munoz, Francesca Volerich, Shannon Nisiewicz, and Adrianna Enoch.  For those who live in the area, make sure you check out the student’s work and the Impressionists show.  You will definitely be inspired!

More From The Sketch Journal

8 May
sketch & watercolor picture of foliage

From the pages of Katie Turner’s Sketchbook.

fall foliage, watercolor & ink

Sketch from the artist journal of Katie Turner.

Here are a few more sketches I have worked on.

Concerning drawing, Gerhard Gollwitzer said,

“How should you start then? Look at the subject as if you had never seen it before.”