290 Gouache to the Rescue

I go out Plein air sketching most weeks somewhere around my local area . Most of the time I start out with watercolour. Sometimes they are successful, sometimes not. Often looking at it at home away from the scene I can decide if it works as a painting or it’s a bin job. If I’m unhappy with my result when I return home I often “fix” it with gouache.

This little sketch wasn’t working for me at the time. It had too much green and was rather boring, but it had possibilities. A loose approach like this gives me a lot of leeway.After fiddling with gouache for a while it started to come together. Sometimes when I’m away from the scene I put a bit more effort into making the painting work, instead of simply copying what is in front of me. The only original part left here is the sky 😄

Another day, another Plein Air session and another failed watercolour. I really should bin some of these attempts and regard it as experience, or as added miles on the brush, but I don’t like to admit defeat. So I tried a Gouache makeover again, but I still wasn’t satisfied with the result. This time I resorted to adding pastel for the grasses and touches here and there on the foliage.

I’m continually learning with Plein Air painting. Each one is a challenge and sometimes I have absolutely no idea how I’m going to approach the painting.

Recently I have been trying to plan a bit more before I start by mapping out a composition with a preliminary thumbnail sketch using a Pilot V pen, a cheap disposable fountain pen with watersoluble ink and a waterbrush.

These are only quick scribbles, then a few strokes with the waterbrush to create different tones or values.

This tiny journal was a bargain buy, reduced from $10 to $2, originally bought as a notebook, just because I can’t resist an art bargain, but I started using it for these quick scribbles and found that I really enjoy using it for ink and wash thumbnail sketches.

I’m now remembering to note where they are sketched but I must start adding the date as well because it is becoming a good reference as well as a nice little memory journal to flip through.


#205 Doodling or Drawing

It’s official! Doodling is good for you and there are now many reports out there confirming it. 
I’ve never been a wordy person but I’ve always been a doodler,  scribbling while on the phone or simply making marks while the brain is supposedly otherwise engaged.  According to Wikipedia “doodling can aid a person’s memory by expending just enough energy to keep one from daydreaming, which demands a lot of the brain’s processing power, as well as from not paying attention. Thus, it acts as a mediator between the spectrum of thinking too much or thinking too little”.
Sunni Brown has written a whole book on the benefits of doodling and says there’s no such thing as a mindless doodle. The physical act of producing a doodle necessarily engages the mind, opening doorways into the imagination, the intellect, and the oft-hidden centers of insight. 

There’s also a great talk becoming a great artist through doodling by Stefan Bauman on TED here

I guess thats one of the reasons behind the current fad of colouring in books. Its a way of keeping the pencil moving without putting too much thought into it. Calligraphy or drawing letters is also a form of meditative doodling so I guess that’s why I enjoy adding text to my sketches.


This week I also discovered Etegami.  This is a wonderful way to tune out the brain. The speed of drawing is slowed down and you concentrate completely on the way the ink flows onto the paper, on your breathing and heartbeat. With etagami it’s actually better to complete a clumsy drawing than a perfect one.


Because the paper in this journal isn’t meant for wet ink drawing,  the bleed through to the next page was pretty unsightly. So I used the blobs for a mindless zentangle of an imaginary flower. A zentangle is another state of drawing where you go into the zone.  Drawing repetitive designs can be very calming.


You need to be an Aussie to appreciate the jingle on vegemite  – you can see it on youtube. The cat and vegemite sketches were from photos by crispur for the weekly 2 hour drawing challenge on Wetcanvas.


And this one’s just because I like to try and do one portrait a week.


Something we use a lot of, and this time of the year money does seem to disappear a little faster.


Sometimes its hard to think of different things to sketch each day. If you get stumped on what to sketch you can find 400 ideas here.

Finally this will be my last post before Christmas so here is my greeting card from me and him to all of you 🙂 Best wishes for a safe and wonderful Christmas.


194 Three different papers

Its been another week of fairly non productive stuff. It seems I’m jumping from one thing to another with no particular direction. Maybe I need to take a break from painting to recharge my battery.

Here are a few things I’ve been messing around with. First a small gouache figure painted over a failed watercolour on Arches cp paper. I love recycling so this is one way of getting more mileage out of expensive paper before it goes in the trash. I learn from all of these experiments and I’ve learnt that I like the way gouache goes on this paper.


The next little sketch was done on an outing with a friend to a local National Trust property. This was the original cottage built on the first farm to be settled in this area in the 1800s. Ink and watercolour pencils on Strathmore grey paper.


And finally a watercolour I did several weeks ago and forgot to post. This is on Fabriano cp paper, which at this stage is my favourite paper.
I added a little ink and watercolour pencil on this one too. I’m enjoying the combination of different mediums.


150 Line and Colour

I’m trying to do some sort of sketching each day. Somedays I succeed, somedays I don’t.

Today I attempted an almost continuous single line drawing directly in ink as an exercise in observation and hand eye coordination.

The first sketch I used a Lamy Joy fountain pen with a bit of watercolour.


I tried a calligraphy pen for the next one.


As I had made a blob of watercolour on the page and still had some fresh pigment on the palette I messed around with the blob, just because I love watching what watercolour does. This was only on a page in a cartridge journal and not real watercolour paper but it still worked in a way.