BLOG: Door County
Through a Paintbrush

Wherever you find yourself on the peninsula, you're bound to find creative inspiration. Whether on the quiet bayside in Ephraim, or the bustling downtown of Sturgeon Bay, wherever you look you can find new colors, shapes, and landscapes to add to your sketchbook.

And you're in good company, the inspirational atmosphere is why you see countless art studios scattered on the country roads. From leather working, painting, to jewelry, artists flock to Door County to capture a hint of the beauty that makes the county so inspirational.

When my family would rent a vacation home on the lakeside, I remember lugging along my entire paint collection for the week. Wanting to seem 'sophisticated' I would wake up early or squeeze in painting time from the patio. Although I may have had an alterior motive, the practice sticks with me. I still lug my paints and canvas up to the county when I visit. While back then I found my inspiration from the beach, now I find myself more mystified by the colors in the sky. I've seen beautiful hues blended together in Door County that I don't get to see as often anywhere else. Sunrises, sunsets, or just brilliant blue hues during the day time always seem to capture my attention. The most recent one I've worked on is the pink, purple, and blue tones of the winter sky, so soft and gently mixed. I love winter, so I felt really comforted to see these elegant colors fill the white landscape.

What I think I enjoy most about making art in Door County is the opportunity to see things you're familiar with in a new lens. I've been to Door County countless times, but it's a different perspective when you put the image through a paintbrush, pencil, or other medium. What comes out is authentically you, your image of the world in front of you. Your vision of how the colors blend together, how the shapes connect and how the sun shines. Different from taking a photograph, making artwork captures both the moment in time and your emotions behind the work. It's like taking a snapshot of yourself in that moment, on your getaway.

I greatly enjoy looking at art this way, I think it's a powerful means of escape for someone to release themselves into a physical work of art. What a better time and place to do it than while on vacation? Below are tips and tricks I've picked up from studying, practicing and experiencing art.

Change Your Lens

Like I described, changing your lens to an art tool can be a powerful new way to experience your favorite places in Door County. Capturing a moment, image, or feeling of your experience at certain times in your vacation can leave you with a souvenir more personal and enjoyable.

If Door County is a favorite spot for you that you've visited times over, you've seen the galleries and you've seen the sights. Revisit your favorite places and bring along a sketch book. See what things truly look like to you by creating art out of your visits. What character comes through, what elements do you focus on, where are you drawn to create? These answers hold keys to your passions and the essences of Door County.

Explore a New Medium

If you practice art often, change it up when you visit the Peninsula. Try out a new medium, new supplies or different art form and see what happens. There are many galleries to get inspiration from as well as art supply stores to find a new tool. Look at some of the common art tools, tap into their inherent characteristics of working with them in your art. What are you feeling like?

Paint - Purity, Reflectance, Bliss, Peace, Connectivity, Fluid, Curious, Explorative
Ink - Rigid, Firm, Accomplishment, Permanence, Definitive, Detailed, Determined, Aspirational
Pencil - Loose, Fluid, Flexible, Impromptu, Whimsical, Playful, Quick, Collaborative
Charcoal - Natural, Organic, Simple, Objective, Collective, Indefinite, Monotone, Bold

Work With Artistic Elements

Instead of being a realist, painting or drawing exactly what you see, switch it up! Be playful. Experiment with the art basics of color, shape and perspective. Use color theory to define a color pallete, maybe only using one tone (monotone), using complementary colors, or using triatics. Play with your perspective, zoom in or out, flip everything upside down. Working with the fundamentals of art can add a new flair to a typical view.

Log the Moment

Create a lasting memory out of your piece by adding writing to your work. Flip over your artwork, where you sign and date, offer up a short description of where you are, what you're doing, and how you're feeling. Make it prose. log a moment that happened right before or after you made it. When you revisit the sketch later, you'll have a fun reminder of where you were when you drew it.

Door County offers endless sources of inspiration for the artist in all of us. Look beyond just the beautiful views. Try the cuisine, the drinks, walk in nature, converse with friends, view galleries, shop in stores, try something new...branch out on your next vacation, then make art about it! You'll be left with another piece to add to your collection or simply an artifact of your trip. Looking through my old sketchbooks is a thrill, I'm always happy I had took the time to make art on my travels. Go make something beautiful!

P.S. Don't get into the art scene? Grab one of the now-popular adult coloring books and your colored pencils. Pick a page, color it with a Door County inspired color pallet, sign and date. As simple as that! Who knows, maybe you'll have just discovered a new favorite pastime!