Notice. Capture. Learn. An interview with Marty Colón

If you’re on the fence about participating in our upcoming Field Journaling Workshop on September 8th and 9th, we’ve got the push you may need! We spent a little time with the instructor of this wonderful course, Marty Colón, and learned a bit more about his views on field journaling, creativity, his love of fall, and a few things in between. Sit back and enjoy another Two Hands exclusive artist interview!

TWO HANDS Paperie: Did you grow up in Colorado or some other outdoor wonderland?

Marty: I grew up in rural Michigan, outside of Ann Arbor, with access to wonderful forests, fields, ponds and streams.  My family has a cabin in northern Michigan, on Lake Michigan, where I spent most weekends and summers. Northern Michigan was definitely an outdoor wonderland, with deep forests, vast dunes, clear rivers and miles of empty beaches to explore.

TWO HANDS Paperie: When did you get into field journaling?

I’ve always enjoyed drawing. After college, when I started guiding wilderness trips, I became interested in blending writing with my sketches. This was mostly in an effort to notice more, capture more information, and learn more while out in nature.

TWO HANDS Paperie: Do you completely finish a journal before starting a new one?

Marty: I keep different journals for different purposes. For example, I keep a road-trip journal, some place-specific journals, a tracking journal, a general “exploring nature journal” and so on.  So typically I’m working in several journals simultaneously.

TWO HANDS Paperie: Is there anything you don’t leave the house without when you’re off to sketch?

Marty: I tend to travel pretty lightly when I’m afield.  Sometimes I head out equipped with a fuller compliment of gear—pens, watercolors, different weight papers—other times I head out with the bare minimum, but I always take at least a pad of heavy paper, a mechanical pencil, and a couple of pens.

TWO HANDS Paperie: When you get stuck or bored with your art, how do you find a new wind? What is your inspiration?

Marty: I know this will sound Pollyannaish, but honestly, I don’t get stuck or bored with art.  Especially since my son was born, time for me to do art is rare. So, when I have the opportunity, I usually have dozens of ideas and techniques I’m dying to explore.  With both writing and art, if I feel at all uninspired, I know to not worry about creating anything “great” and just get busy filling up pages. In other words, I WAY lower my expectations, and just start having fun on the paper.

TWO HANDS Paperie: What words of wisdom have you carried with you about life or art or living?

Marty: My mantra for field journaling is to make it “no big deal”!  To me, this means lowering my standards, feeling free to experiment and make a mess, just filling up pages with writing and sketching with little concern for the results, and making it FUN. For me, that’s the touchstone attitude.

TWO HANDS Paperie: What do you enjoy most about fall?

Marty: Having recently moved down from the mountains to the plains, the cooler weather will be welcome!  But I love everything about fall—the cold nights, the colors, the obvious shift in seasons, the migration movements of birds and mammals, and the increased activity that makes many mammals easier to see.

TWO HANDS Paperie: What excites you most?

Marty: Exploring the natural world—both close to home and in North America’s wildest corners.  Being with friends and family.  Teaching—sharing skills and concepts that can change what people understand, what they can experience, and what they can do.

TWO HANDS Paperie: Many people say they aren’t creative. What do you say to that?

Marty: I don’t buy it! But over the years I’ve learned not to argue with peoples’ self-perceptions and beliefs.  Instead I just get them to get to work.  I’ve built my field journal classes around strategies that get people drawing and writing in ways that prevent them from controlling the results.  This outwits their need to always try to create beautiful pictures and brilliant writing every time they put pencil to paper!

I’ve found that when I can get people to stop worrying about the outcome, to turn off their internal censor, and just start making marks on the page, they usually discover they can be plenty creative.

Marty will be teaching TWO HANDS Paperie’s Field Journaling Workshop in early September. Stop by the store or visit our website for more information.