Painting in the Moment

by Suzanne McNeill

Every day is a new adventure. I love to be creative anytime and anywhere. Painting and sketching with friends is one of my favorite activities. We get together for mini retreats and take short trips to colorful places to paint and be creative together.

For me, painting ‘in the moment’ has special appeal. Somehow, recording images on location makes the colors more vibrant, and memories of the place more vivid. Wanting to preserve the visual eye-candy of light, images, festivals, markets and friends on canvas and paper is always a welcome challenge. Leigh Gusterson hosts plein air workshops in Taos every year. I was fortunate enough to attend her workshop. We visited Max’s salvage yard where he has quite a collection of old cars, trucks (one of my favorite subjects) and school buses strewn about his property. Leigh also has an affinity for these rusty, worn, metal monuments to the past and they are used quite frequently in her own paintings. I encourage you to take a look at Leigh’s website ( and, if you ever get a chance, take one of her workshops. I highly recommend it!

Sketching from life in travel journals preserves special memories for me. I have recorded my adventures and memories for over 20 years. My journals contain memories from Mexico, Tahiti, Bali, Morocco, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, Guatemala, family vacations, the beach, mountains and more. Each journal has a special place on my shelf. It is like magic to open a journal page and revisit the adventures whenever I get ‘itchy feet’ to travel. Marie le Glatin Keis ( leads workshops for travel journeys to ‘Day of the Dead’ in Mexico, France and the Pacific NW. Marie’s book ‘The Art of Travel with a Sketchbook’ and her trips are wonderful sources of creativity.

I find that sketching from ‘life’ encourages my creativity. Visiting a foreign country with friends is always special. When traveling I like to begin every day with large sketches... people, buildings, market scenes, the night sky, or plants. On my month long trip to Bali, I came home with nearly 100 drawings. Now I can use these as inspiration for paintings while I am in the studio. Doug Walton leads creative art workshops around the world. Take a look at his website ( and sign up for one of his inspiring trips if you can.

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Jul 12, 2010
Love This:)

Hi Suzanne - Thanks for your post - your work is wonderful

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