Art Toolkit was started by expeditionary artist Maria Coryell-Martin, who has painted and sketched in all kinds of places. After a particularly memorable experience juggling clumsy sketching tools while crawling in the sand for hours to monitor walruses on a small island in eastern Greenland, Maria was inspired to create a more compact sketching and painting kit and Art Toolkit was born.
While we have yet to see any walruses on our Adventure Art trips, we love using the Art Toolkit everywhere we go. Maria is a constant source of inspiration, so we caught up with her for a little Q&A.
Official Q&A Post
When did you start Art Toolkit and what was the inspiration behind it?
I've always tinkered with what art supplies I carry into the field. On every trip, I try to improve my tools. Here are some of the early kits that I used between 2003-2008 and an early palette I made out of a mint tin for my first artist-residency in Antarctica.
I started carrying my first Art Toolkit prototype in 2010 and officially launched the first version of the Art Toolkit on my Expeditionary Art blog in July 2011. Since then, the Art Toolkit and Pocket Palette have been through many iterations!
The Art Toolkit solved a number of challenges for me. I wanted an all-in-one sketch system that I could carry everywhere, the no-excuses-keep-in-your-bag kit that was lightweight, portable, and could have everything I needed for watercolor sketching. As I found something I liked, it was too much fun not to share! I love making my own art and want to inspire and empower others to do the same.
What's the most unique place you have ever made art?
A unique place I've sketched was on the sea ice of Baffin Bay, a hundred miles offshore, accompanying a scientific team researching narwhals.
What's your first piece of advice for someone that's just starting to take their art practice outside?
Keep it simple and small, and embrace the mantra, "practice, not perfection." I'm often surprised by what's possible in just a few minutes! To get started, I'd recommend using a pen and imagining that you're making a little coloring page for yourself. Sitting out in a spot, start with notes such as the date, place, weather, what you notice, and even how you feel. You might play with your text using block lettering or other embellishments like frames or dividing lines. Amidst your notes, add small sketches that could be as simple as doodles or little icons. Finally, add a layer of color to help bring your page to life. Relax and have fun with it!
For you, what is the link between physical movement (like riding your bike!) and creativity?
Physical movement and creativity bring me a similar mental space and quiet. Both get me out of my daily mental chatter and invite me to see the world from a different perspective and feel joy!
Do you have a favorite color palette?
I have a favorite limited palette of colors, first inspired by an expedition I took to Greenland in 2010. It's cool and earthy, and I've used it as a foundation for many paintings since. All colors are Daniel Smith.
• Hansa Yellow Medium • Raw Sienna (sometimes Yellow Ochre for more opacity) • Cerulean Blue Chromium • Indanthrone Blue • Deep Scarlet • Phthalo Green • I'll add or subtract other colors to tweak it, but I love to mix subtle darks with these.
What's your current favorite art supply?
Ummmmm.... this feels like an impossible question! Maybe whatever cool tool my friend uses that I’ve just seen and now must try? I carry my Pocket Art Toolkit everywhere and love rotating in and out different supplies to play with, whether a new brush or pen, or new color.