260 Sketches from the Portrait Journal

It’s been a while and I apologise for the slowdown in my postings. No excuse! Life gets in the way 😉 I’ll simply do a catch-up of all portrait practise done over the last few weeks.

All photo references are from Sktchyapp. First is a gouache and watercolour pencil sketch of Anita.

I like to mix things up a bit so I used Strathmore toned paper for a graphite sketch, adding a little white pencil in the light areas for this sketch of Ciara. The background was a watercolour wash of Quin Gold with some red dropped in.  I rubbed some yellow and red watercolour pencil onto sandpaper and allowed the particles to drop into the wet wash.

Another toned paper sketch of Pat, with a Pentel brushpen with gouache added for the flesh and background areas.

A mixed media sketch of Rick, on toned paper again. Pentel brushpen, gouache and watercolour pencil.Dusti provided the next image and I used this for more experimenting. First I applied a random wash of  Ultramarine and Raw Sienna, then drew over that with the brushpen. I added a bit more colour to define the features and shadows.Another experiment but I have no idea what I’m doing with these el cheapo kiddies markers. It’s fun scribbling though. Thanks to Simone for letting me play around with her image.

img_3584This sketch of Ellen is on toned paper again with the Pentel brushpen and watercolour pencils.  I often use a white Posca marker or a Signo Uniball pen for the highlight in the eyes.Lastly is a watercolour sketch of Robin. I do enjoy watercolours but should really use proper watercolour paper instead of this inexpensive journal. It’s not meant for wet media but it seems to work ok and can take limited layers. I

The Quill journal I’ve been using for most of the sketches has 250gsm cartridge paper and is about 15 x 20cm or 6 x 8″.

I initially only intended to use graphite and coloured pencil but I started adding markers, gouache and watercolour.  I find I am much less precious using this cheap book and much more inclined to experiment, and not worry about the outcome. Much less intimidating than using a “good” book with precious paper.

255 Outdoors and Indoors

Last week our pleinair outing was at the old cemetery. Some of the group were reluctant to paint in a spooky place but I thought we were paying homage to the old forgotten graves. I’m sure the spirits of the departed would have looked on us as friendly visitors. The weather wasn’t so kind to us though, as after about an hour the skies opened up and we were soaked in a matter of minutes 😄 Luckily I took a photo just before the drenching and the paint running and dripping off the page.

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Back safe and warm indoors I resorted back to portraits from Sktchyapp, trying different techniques and materials. First up is an ink and coloured pencil sketch on Strathmore tan toned paper. The white highlights are Uniball Signo white pen.

Next was a gouache and Pentel brushpen in a Quill journal.

And because I have a couple of commissions coming up I thought I should try out some “good” Fabriano Artistico paper again, and do some step by step progress shots. This is the ghastly stage 😄 Using a very limited palette – cadmium yellow, cadmium red and a little cerulean for the flesh tones. Adding some darks with burnt sienna, ultramarine and pthalo blue, and a few splashes to try and loosen up a little.

The final dark accents on the face, glasses and background.

250 Finishing UFOs

I decided this past week to finish off some of my ufo’s………unfinished objects 😊 I’m  working my way through the pile. This landscape was from a National Park we visited on our long trip around the country. It has been in the unfinished pile for ages, so now there is one less.  I think I salvaged it and will hopefully sell it at an exhibition later in the year. 

I do have a lot more unfinished paintings to work through and I will be ruthless. If I can’t make them work I’ll bin them.

In the meantime I had a morning with the local pleinair air group at the beach. Fine weather but the wind was a little chilly, which always makes me sketch a lot quicker. The first sketch is watercolour on cartridge paper.

The next one was a little gouache, looking across the bay.

And then I went for something completely different, a larger acrylic on canvas. I haven’t painted with acrylic for a long time and I forgot how much darker it dries, opposite to watercolour. This is 600 x 450 mm or 24 x 18″. Another one for the exhibition?

249 Mainly Portraits

This past week has been almost exclusively Portraits for me. For inspiration I scrolled through Sktchyapp and I found a cute photo of a little chihuahua. I loved the expression on his face and tried to capture the little dog, big attitude look.

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The #mondaymuse challenge on Sktchyapp this week was a girl who writes poetry, and the challenge was to include words into the artwork. Well, I had this great idea for using words. I’m rubbish at poetry and prose so I thought I’d use an old book with text. I applied a thin coat of gesso and added watercolour. That didn’t  work so I used copics that I don’t know how to use, then coloured pencils, fineliner and finally some watercolour that sort of worked. I learn as I go 😀

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The #quickdraw challenge was to do a drawing and add colour in less than 5 minutes. Fun to do when you throw caution to the wind.


I really like doing challenges like these as they stretch me a bit and help get me out of the rut.

This next painting was a quick class demo on skin tones. I gave away the sketch I did last week so I quickly did another. I should have taken a bit more time on the sketch because I didn’t get a good likeness, but as I was concentrating on mixing skin tones the sketch had to do.

After the lesson I played around with gouache, to remedy the problem areas.  The more I play with gouache, the more I like it, especially as I have a new set of Holbein.


The width of the nose and the eyebrows needed some surgery. You can see here where I reshaped the eyebrows and the nose. Patches of watercolour still show through in places.
I have also been keeping up with #20sketches20days on Facebook. I decided that the best way for me to keep up is to keep them small, so I decided on the diary format in an old Moleskine type journal. The paper is challenging to work with but it’s all about doing a daily sketch, so it will suffice.



But now I feel the need to knuckle down and do some serious painting as opposed to indulging myself with all this fun stuff. Maybe I can do some stuff that is saleable to earn a few dollars to recoup expenses.

Watch this space 😀

247 My Week of Sketches

Thank you everyone who commented on my last post. It is good to know that my posts are appreciated, as writing sometimes takes me longer than painting 😀 I will try to do a post a week but no promises.

I’d rather sketch than go shopping, so I opted to wait in the car instead. While I was waiting I quickly sketched the truck across the road. I still had time to kill so added the cafe behind.

Then back home I decided I needed to try different ways of depicting different trees, instead of painting the same stuff all the time. I started in my journal but I was painting rather fast and couldn’t wait for the paper to dry to turn the page, so I started on plain copy paper and scrap paper. Copy paper is not really very good for watercolour but it’s cheap and good for quick experiments, and I don’t care how much I use. Most end up in the bin anyway 😀

I was then able to put my tree practise to good use as the following day I met with a painting buddy for a pleinair session at a local park. It’s good to get out there as it is a very different experience  to painting in the studio from a photo. It’s good brain exercise too, trying to work out how to paint it, and deciding what to leave in or out of the scene. There was actually a whole lot of cars and houses behind the distant tree, but I didn’t want them there so I ignored them.

Back in the studio and back to Sktchyapp for inspiration. The challenge for the week was to do a quick scribble sketch without lifting the pen from the paper. My first attempt was more or less a contour drawing with a .6 Artline pen on Kraft paper. The pen has a tendency to bleed a bit when pausing and it looks a bit like a dot to dot drawing 😀

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So I tried a different approach. For the second attempt I scribbled with a Uniball vision ballpoint pen on Kraft paper. I like this pen as it doesn’t need to be used in an upright manner like Artline or Micron pens, so it feels much more like a comfortable writing position.

Finally I felt like getting out the gouache again for another portrait. The more I use gouache the more I enjoy it. It is such a forgiving medium, although it can be a frustrating learning curve. I like to start with thin watery washes, gradually building up in thickness. If too much water is added to the next layer of paint, it can dislodge  the previous one. This can be an advantage though if you want to blend a harsh edge, and very fine detailed work can be achieved using gouache.

Not for me though. I’m still trying to get a more painterly look as opposed from too detailed. I enjoyed doing this little sketch on tan Stonehenge paper. Lovely surface for gouache. 

I’m happy to say this portrait is on its way to a new home across the big ocean 

I’m up to date now with my posts. Stay tuned for next week for another episode of random sketches 😀 

#246. 20/20 Sketches

January 1 was the start of 20sketches20days challenge on Facebook. I was invited by a friend to join in as an encouragement to sketch more, and I find if I commit to these challenges I do sketch and experiment more, trying different things that I wouldn’t normally do. I treat these sketches as a learning challenge, in various sketchbooks or different papers. 

This was a quick brush sketch on drawing paper, attempting to mix the colours on the paper. Fun without worrying about the outcome.


The only difficultly I have sometimes is thinking of a subject to sketch. I raided the recycling bin for this bottle, a remnant from New Years Eve 😀 Here I sketched the outline initially on with a yellow pen, on  Bamboo paper, then  dipped a skewer into masking fluid and added more lines and blobs.  After that was dry I applied the colour and a few ink lines and a bit of gouache for the lettering. Oh, and the Fat Yak company liked the sketch too 😊

Then I had a look at Sktchyapp for some more inspiration, again trying something different. This is a Pentel brushpen sketch in my cartridge paper journal.


Another Sktchyapp inspired portrait in gouache and Pentel brushpen.


A Sktchyapp geometric challenge. It started out ok but I lost my way. As it was only another experiment with coloured pencils on photocopy paper I abandoned it. The fun is in the journey, not the destination 😀
This next one was meant to be a watery silhouette type of sketch but I messed up big time and resorted to gouache to save the day again. This was the first time I’ve used gouache in my Stillman and Birn Alpha journal and it played very nicely 😀

A journey to the city for various commitments meant I had some waiting around to do. The following sketch was done while waiting in the gardens of a lawn cemetery. 

Then in the waiting room of a hospital. Not my appointment, I’m just there lending moral support 😀 I actually enjoy waiting now if I have my sketchbook. I get annoyed if I don’t have it and have to resort to playing Sudoku on my phone.

 I had my multicoloured magic pencil to play with here, but decided it needed watercolour to make it believable.
Because I’m getting rather lax in regular postings I still have more catching up to do but I don’t want to overburden this post. I do almost daily uploads to my Instagram account as I find it quick and easy, just a photo and a couple of words and hashtags. 

My question to you ….. do you enjoy reading my (sometimes) weekly notes with several images or prefer a post  with a few notes every day or so? Or even prefer to follow on Instagram? I’d like to hear from you.

245 

Oh dear, it’s been a while since my last post and we are already into 2017. I have too many other things getting in the way at the present, so much I’ll just do a little catching up for now. 

Just before Christmas I had a day with my painting buddies and we painted in the gardens of a local church. I did a little warm up brush watercolour sketch first, on Fabriano Artistico paper.img_2033After that I switched to gouache and concentrated on the ivy clad wall.img_2036

More playing with gouache, a quick little selfie(supposedly😂) once again in gouache with Pentel brushpen on cartridge paper.img_2062

Another in gouache, this one had to be a specific size hence the “portrait landscape” 😊 –  on Arches paper.img_2070

And finally some Sktchyapp portraits, trying to keep within my 5 minute time limit. These are all done with a conte carbon pencil and watercolour crayons. I enjoy doing stuff like this when I have little time to sketch. It’s fun and liberating doing these quick sketches, trying to make them a little recognisable while not being precious.