298 New Sketchbook

I can’t believe it’s been 4 months since my last post. So much has happened since then. Life was getting busier than ever for me with a couple of exhibitions as well as having my work in a pop up gallery space. All of a sudden things have come to a full stop in a devastating way, not just here but all around the world. Life as we have known it will be changed in ways we have yet to understand and come to terms with.

There have been numerous posts giving advice on using this enforced time of social distancing to take the opportunity to learn a new skill, get fit, do all those projects you’ve been putting off, and all sorts of challenges and other stuff you could be doing. It’s taken me a while to realise that’s not what I need right now and not to burden myself with unrealistic expectations.

After not having any direction an idea of overcoming this isolation came while video chatting with my 3 yo granddaughter who is lockdown in Europe. We decided I would send her a daily line drawing for her to colour in and send back to me. It was cute to see her trying to put her drawing back into the printer to send back.

Following on with this idea I’m revisiting a project from 2015. I started keeping a little art journal with a daily sketch and quote. You can see some of the entries here. As I didn’t have a little journal on hand for this new project I decided to make a new one from scratch with some Fabriano paper I had on hand. The cover is still to come.

I’m combining the idea of the Urban Sketchers “sketch at home” theme with my daily granddaughter sketch so she will be getting some pretty mundane sketches to colour in. Oh, she just got the line drawing for this one. I did my own colouring in here!

Hopefully with all this spare time on my hands now I’ll be posting more often.

297 Sketching Tools

One of my favourite sketching tools is a Tombow dual brush pen – fine tip one end for consistent lines, and a brush tip on the other which works like a paintbrush to create fine, medium or bold strokes. They come in a wide range of colours but I find just a few shades of grey useful for quick sketches. I like to use a light grey fine tip for initially outlining the basic shapes, then switch to the brush end for blocking in and for shadows.

The following sketch was done while filling in 15 minutes waiting for my taxi. The brush end allows me to fill in larger areas quickly. I added the colour on the sculpture later as my ride appeared too soon.

Another journal sketch of a little cottage opposite a local park on Strathmore toned grey paper, was done the same way, adding ink linework over the initial Tombow sketch, then colour with watercolour pencils used dry. The grey paper works well, providing a mid tone background, with the Tombow for shading, black ink linework and a white Posca pen for highlights.

The next sketch was done the same way, sketch with the light grey Tombow, adding the shadow areas before adding Ink and colour with Portfolio water soluble oil pastels, a set I picked up some time ago but rarely used. I believe these are childrens crayons, but similar to Neopastels. Probably not archival but fun to use for sketchbooks.

Like many artists I find it hard to resist new art products, which seem to keep on appearing on each visit to the art supplies shop. But I am sticking fairly well to my resolution early this year not to buy any new products (apart from replacements), and to use up what I already have.

296 Streetscape Journal

A recent project I am doing with my Plein air buddies is to gradually sketch our way along a street in town that has a great selection of Victorian buildings. For this project we had a small workshop showing others how to make a concertina journal, using one full sheet of watercolour paper glued to heavy card for the front and back.

The idea is to sketch a building on each fold, or over a couple of folds to create one long fold out panorama view of the street. There are a few newer buildings but we chose to ignore these and concentrate on the more interesting older ones.

I used a Uniball Vision Elite ballpoint pen for the sketches with watercolour on Bockingford paper.

The inspiration for this project comes from Helen Wilding. Her street sketches are amazing.

Kooka’s Building
The Old Courthouse
Old Bell buildings

It’s amazing how many people stop and chat while we are on site, sharing their memories and stories of the buildings. This project will be a long term one, so I will keep you posted on the progress from time to time.

283 New Sketch Bag

I’m not a good blogger these days, so sorry. Too many other things seem to get in the way. Travel, family illness, and over the last few months I’ve been asked to act as a social media promoter for an organisation Southern Art Trail. This annual trail has 93 venues open from Sep 15 – 30. I will have my work exhibited in three of the venues so I have been rather busy.

Some of my Plein air paintings I will have on display in one local gallery can be seen here.

Another gallery has a variety of different paintings and sketches.

In addition to those two I will be exhibiting along with my Plein air buddies, all small watercolours painted in and around our town. I will post the link to that page when I have the pictures ready.

Apart from that, I just had to make myself a new sketch bag. I had one that worked really well and fitted in a bunch of stuff, but it was not meant to last and finally fell to pieces. I used the idea to fashion a similar one, not as big so I’m not tempted to pack too much. The idea is to keep it light and simple.

The sewing on the bag is not too fancy, but it works.

It fits an A4 watercolour pad, and another smaller one if I need it. A plastic basket fits nicely inside keeping my palettes flat so the paint doesn’t run everywhere. Yes, I’ve had some awful messes to deal with from palettes not being carried flat.

The little easel is fashioned from a camera tripod and fits into its own carry bag.

A see through zip bag contains miscellaneous pens, clips, knife, a kneadable eraser and sharpener fit into a small plastic disposable glove container, a towelling wrist band and a strip of towel for blotting brushes.

The brush container is made from a cardboard roll, covered in duct tape with a string attached to hang from the easel. Water container, watercolour pencils, watercolour palette and gouache palette make up the rest of the kit.

Now I just need to put it all into practise. I did have a trial run, catching up with sketches in my moleskine travel journal, clipping the book to the easel with the small black clip thingies.

I do hope to get back to regular sketching after this busy period is over. I miss just sketching for fun, and not have to worry whether my work is “Gallery worthy”.

272 Plein Air Popularity

Plein Air outings are now a regular event each week for me. I find I am learning a great deal from painting on the spot, such as how to simplify a scene, choose colours and trying to make a painting work without being a slave to exact realism. My aim is to capture my thoughts and feelings about what I am experiencing at that time.

A couple of weeks ago our group visited a local winery and were able to set our easels up amongst the vineyards. I liked the view looking towards the distant Ranges.

Here is a photo of what I saw, although I find taking a photo in landscape mode always seems to flatten the image. And of course I exaggerated and used my artistic license.

The following week we painted in a street full of historic cottages, all lovingly cared for with beautiful gardens. We found out by chatting to one of the owners that many of these cottages were flat packed and imported from Scandinavia in the 1890s to house mill workers in the town.

At this time of the year on Instagram you see lots of posts popping up with the # 2017bestnine hashtag. A website works out the algorithms for your most popular posts for the year. It is interesting and often a surprise to see what pops up. This year mine were predominantly Plein Air sketches and paintings, with a junky tree study and a really quick silly Inktober sketch.

Does this mean I should concentrate more on Plein Air?

My downfall is that I can’t just stick to one thing. I love portraits, pet paintings, still life and more, and I want to try it all and keep on experimenting. I’m planning on taking a summer school course next month touching on abstraction. It will be interesting to see where that leads me. I’ll keep you posted.

268 Inktober Sketches Part 3

I managed to keep up with the daily sketch, and even followed the official Inktober prompts. It wasn’t easy doing sketches of things I would never have normally chosen, as I followed the official Inktober prompt for the sketches and most of the reference photos were from Sktchyapp.

#22 Trail – Ink and watercolour

#23 Juicy – Ballpoint pen and watercolour

#24 Blind – Pigma Micron 005 and Pentel brushpen 

#25 Ship – Ink and watercolour

#26 Squeak – Ink and watercolour

#27 Climb – Ink and watercolour pencil used dry.

#28 Fall – Ink  and watercolour pencil. I was loaned a Sailor Fude fountain pen to try out. These are really different but fun to use. The thickness of the line is dependant on the angle you hold the pen so it takes a bit of getting used to. The ink in this was not permanent so I had to use the coloured pencils dry to avoid bleeding, even though I really wanted to watercolour those lovely colourful leaves.

#29 United – Preppy fountain pen with brown ink and watercolour. I’m no sports fan but even I have heard of Manchester United 😄

#30 Found – Ink and watercolour

#31 Mask – Ink, mainly Pentel brushpen and watercolour, plus a little colour pencil.

Most of the images used came from Sktchyapp and all were done in my handmade journal with Daler Rowney 160g drawing paper. It’s not watercolour paper but I quite like using it as it dries fairly quickly and the colours stay nice and bright. I made this journal initially for Liz Steels Online SketchingNow class, then used it for Every Day in May sketches a couple of years ago. This has almost finished this journal as there are only a couple of pages left. So it will be put away on the shelf till I find another way to use up those pages. 

267 Inktober sketches Part 2

One thing about doing a monthly challenge is that it motivates you to sketch at least once a day, whether you feel like it or not. Some days inspiration just doesn’t come, so its back to the old adage,  “Inspiration finds you working”. So for the Day 12 prompt  “Shattered” I picked up a ballpoint pen and just started scribbling. I like adding an appropriate or amusing quote to each sketch, often simply to make me feel better about a drawing I’m unhappy with.

Day 13 – Teeming. I drew a few strokes with a white chinagraph pencil before applying a watered down ink wash for a rain effect.


#14 – Fierce. Sometimes it’s easier to find a quote first before looking for a reference photo. Ink, watercolour and brushpen. A brushpen is maybe a little heavy for a toddlers face 😄

# 15 – Mysterious – sepia ink with a waterbrush.

# 16 – Fat – ink and watercolour

#17 – Graceful – ink and coloured pencil.

#18 – Filthy – ink and watercolour. 

#19 – Cloud – permanent and water soluble ink. It’s a clouded leopard in case you were wondering at my interpretation. 
#20 – Deep – ink and watercolour

#21 – Furious – ink, brushpen and marker.

All these sketches were done in one of my handmade journals 10 x 7 inch of 160g Daler Rowney cartridge paper, with various inks as per Inktober challenge,  and the lettering with various markers.

Well, I managed to make it to day 21. Not too many to go so I think I can manage to do the whole month. 

266 Inktober Sketches

I am managing to do an inky sketch a day so far this month. It was an effort to actually get started, as I’ve been out of the sketching groove for a long time and this is always a great challenge to get motivated again. And it’s a great challenge to draw just in ink, although I have to resort to colour now and again 😄 

I really enjoyed doing a daily sketch when I started my little daily diary back in 2015 and was a bit sad when I finished it. I thought I’d take a similar approach for this month. You can see all the 150 entries from that diary here on Flickr.

I found it hard each day to decide what to sketch, and often I was disappointed with the result, so to make myself feel better about the sketch I added an appropriate text on the adjacent page, sometimes motivational, sometimes humourous and it gave a more light hearted approach.

So I decided to approach Inktober in the same way. I am doing the prompts from Sktchyapp, and using its vast library of reference photos for the challenge.

#4 – Underwater. Ink, brushpen and watercolour on cartridge paper.


#5 Long. Sepia ink in Preppy fountain pen, bamboo dip pen and brush on cartridge paper.
#6 Sword. Super quick one today. Ink, Watercolour on cartridge paper. Lettering is with a Pitt calligraphy pen.
#7 Shy. Ink, Lamy Joy fountain pen on cartridge paper.

#8 Crooked. Pigma micron pen, brushpen and watercolour pencils on Kraft paper.

#9 Screech. Brush pen and water soluble oil pastels on Strathmore tan paper.

#10 Gigantic. Pilot V pen with water soluble ink on cartridge paper.

#11 Run. Lamy Joy fountain pen, brush pen and watercolour on cartridge paper.

I hope I can keep up this month as I find I often run out of steam, and ideas about halfway. Wish me luck.

264 Inktober

Are you doing Inktober? Sketching with ink each day for 31 days?

I knew it was coming up and had already decided I would give it a miss this year. But after going through a very non productive stage I felt I needed some sort of motivation to get back to regular sketching again.

 I looked at Sktchyapp few days ago and saw they also have new challenges posted regularly now. One was to draw inspiration from the masters. I took inspiration from Egon Schiele for this sketch, done on Strathmore tan toned paper with Pentel brushpen and gouache. Thanks to Teri for the reference image.

That felt good to do a figure sketch again, so I decided I would go ahead and attempt Inktober. There is a daily prompt, some I may follow depending how the mood strikes. I’m not good at prompts, it’s just something that takes a bit more effort. 

Whether I will manage all 31 days is yet to be seen but I’ll try.  I didn’t follow the prompt for day 1. Instead I picked a quick and easy one using Matisse’s simple line drawings as the inspiration for this sketch. Photo reference from Lisa on Sktchyapp.

Inktober #1 


I was pleased that I managed to come up with this interpretation for the day 2 prompt – Division. Once again the reference photo is from Sktchyapp with thanks to Arshia for the photo.

Inktober #2


Inktober #3 Poison. I have to use google sometimes for ideas and found this image there. I just needed to add some watercolour to this as I’m a colour girl.

So far so good. But I’m only up to day 3!