Book Review: Slow Down, Make Time to Create Art on Trail
Artist Molly Hashimoto, author of "Colors of the West," would like to encourage people to slow down on their next adventure. And not just for 30 seconds to snap a quick photo.
Molly Hashimoto would like to encourage people to slow down on their next adventure. And not just for 30 seconds to snap a quick photo. As an artist, she advocates for the value of taking the time to make a sketch or painting when you venture outside. And while you’re translating the scenery to paper, you’ll see more deeply and in more detail.
“It is the depth of observation that is one of the most important aspects of working outside,” she writes.
Molly’s book, “Colors of the West: An Artist’s Guide to Nature’s Palette,” is beautiful, educational and instructive. It’s a good read whether you’ve never made art or you’re an old pro. Right at the beginning, Molly tells her students that it’s never too late to get started. She was in her 30s when she visited Yellowstone and saw full-size reproductions of the art of Thomas Moran. The inspiration set her on a path of making art outdoors that has lasted a lifetime. Molly is a talented artist, teacher and writer. All of those skills come through clearly in her book.
The book begins with a simple discussion of color and gear to get you started. Her explanations are clear and simple, but she doesn’t belabor the point.
“Don’t get bogged down in the technical stuff,” she writes. “When I teach, I try to reach the ‘inner artist’ who longs to mimic the beauty of nature, without necessarily knowing all there is to know about color, technique, etc. This book, like my classes, urges you to just pick up a paintbrush and get started.”
Each section offers techniques, using Molly’s paintings and sketchbooks as vivid, colorful examples. The chapters are a mix of personal stories and natural history from places around the West, interspersed with tips and techniques to improve your own watercolor skills. The book also includes biographies on Molly’s artistic heroes. While each bio is short, Molly brings the person to life vividly; her enthusiasm for her heroes is charmingly obvious.
Even if you never intend to pick up a paintbrush or sketching pencil, it’s still worth picking up this book. Molly’s writing is relaxed and conversational. It’s powerful to read the observations of an artist who has spent years observing the West in such detail.
Just be aware that by the end of the book, Molly will likely have convinced you to add a sketchbook and paintbrush to your next adventure.
Order your copy of "Colors of the West" from Mountaineers Books, here.
The staff at WTA love a good book. Here are some that we've been enjoying recently:
"Dirty Gourmet: Food for Your Outdoor Adventure"
By Aimee Trudeau, Emily Nielson and Mai-Yan Kwan
Are you bored with your usual hiking and camping food? Need ideas to spice up what you eat on trail? The authors of “Dirty Gourmet” want to help. “Dirty Gourmet” is a book for people who love food and love to be outdoors. The authors think good food is essential to the best trips and they go way beyond standard hiking and camping fare. The recipes cover pretty much any way you might eat outdoors, from a quick day hike to a multi-day backpacking excursion. The three authors have varied family roots: Southern, Chinese, French-Canadian and Indian. That diversity makes for an excellent cookbook, with a huge range of flavors. You’ll find recipes like shiitake rice balls, Dutch oven sticky buns, lentil farro salad, hot chocolate oatmeal, buffalo cauliflower wraps and pecan praline fondue. Perusing this book is sure to give you ideas for your next trip — and make you hungry. mountaineersbooks.org, $25.
"Hiking Washington's Fire Lookouts”
By Amber Casali
Fire lookouts are undeniably fascinating. They naturally offer great views and have a wealth of fascinating history attached to them. Amber Casali’s new book features hikes to 44 different lookouts in the Olympics and Cascades. Our state once had more than 500 backcountry lookout structures. Now, that number is 89, according to Casali. She encourages visiting the structures while they’re still here. History buffs will appreciate Casali’s stories about the lookouts and the lives of the people who staffed them. Each of the hikes has a detailed description, as well as information on if and how the lookout is accessible during the day or overnight. For those who like to give back, Casali also gives information about volunteer groups that help maintain the lookouts. mountaineers.org, $22.
“Campfire Stories: Tales From America's National Parks”
Edited by Dave Kyu and Ilyssa Kyu
Stories are important. They’re a way to connect emotionally to another person, to learn about experiences that are different from your own — or show that your own experiences mirror that of another person in powerful and unexpected ways. And one of the best places for storytelling is around the campfire. Dave and Ilyssa Kyu have gathered a collection of stories from six national parks across the country, all of which they visited together. They noted that the stories of the parks were too often told in only a few voices, so they looked for new voices. In the introduction they write “For our team of two, Korean-American and Jewish, husband and wife, it was important for us to find stories that could widen the lens of whom our public lands are for.” The resulting book features authors such as Shelton Johnson and Terry Tempest Williams. It’s a lovely mixture of poetry and prose. Some are daring tales of rescues, others are relaxed musings on the power of just being in nature’s beauty. The book really does belong around a fire. It even begins with tips on how to tell great campfires stories that will captivate your audience. Bring it on your next trip, and read aloud. mountaineers.org, $22.