#254 Pencils and paint

More portraits 😁 It seems that I can’t go a day without a portrait now. Each time I go into my art room to think about starting a “proper painting” another portrait calls out to me. This next one is another watercolour pencil sketch with a waterbrush touched here and there. This process is a bit hit and miss, sketching, adding water with the brush, and going over that with pencil. If I need extra depth or colour I draw directly into the wet area and sometimes dip the pencil into water. Most of my watercolour pencils are Faber Castell with a few Staedtler and Caran D’Arche as well. This is a sketch of Joanne from Sktchyapp.

Another portrait of Jane from Sktchyapp painted in gouache with Pentel ink brushpen over.
A quick sketch from real life. I decided it’s about time I tried another selfie, standing in front of the mirror using a brown Pitt artist pen in a crappy sketchbook. I added the watercolour with a waterbrush and watercolour pencils. You can see the different pencil lines, the lighter ones are used dry and the darker are into wet areas.

And finally something different. We had a gorgeous autumn day last week so we went for a picnic at a nearby National Park. I did a little value sketch followed by a quick little gouache. I quite like the scene and hope to get around to doing a “proper painting” of this in the future.

252 One Week 100 People

As this week is all about sketching faces quickly I’d like to share a couple of videos that I found helpful for trying to get proportions right when sketching faces. First is Alphonso Dunn’s YouTube tips to help you sketch here. And David Rankins 5 minute sketching recipe here. I found these quite useful. I’m always looking for ways of improving my sketching so if you know of any others let me know.
This week has all been about doing 100 portraits in a week. The idea being doing so many faces will improve my hand eye coordination and work out shortcuts for faces. Most of the reference photos are from Sktchyapp.

I’m using this week of One Week 100People for experimenting, yes, again, to find what suits me best doing this type of sketching. I have been doing portraits just with a 2B mechanical pencil for a while so I wanted to get out of the rut.  So here’s my attempts so far, the good, the bad and the ugly.

I started the week with watered down ink in a waterbrush, trying for speed rather than a great likeness. As long as they look human I’m happy. 

Then I switched back to graphite and ballpoint pen.

Next I tried watercolour first with watercolour pencil linework over that.

And then back to graphite

Day 2 A different tool for the next one, a Pilot V pen with watersoluble ink. I like this because I can get a variation in tones using a waterbrush.

But I still needed to speed up because trying to fit in 20 sketches a day was taking me much longer than I intended so quick 5 minute graphite again.

Day 3 I used a Preppy Fountain pen with brown ink, trying more of a contour line type approach. Not altogether successful but a good exercise looking for the planes and shadow areas of a face.

Then I felt the need for some colour so I used just 3 colours and my waterbrush and then watercolour pencils to sketch the faces. Fun but a bit time consuming.

After 60 I’m starting to run out of energy with this but I’ve only 2 days to go so I think I’ll make it, especially if I can learn how to speed up. I have already learned quite a bit so far and learned where my weaknesses are. I have one portrait in this lot that I’m happy with. Can you pick it? I’ll share my thoughts on this when I post the final 2 days.

251 Daily Sketching

I’m late catching up posting my daily sketches. I am continuing to do a little sketch daily, but I struggle with finding inspiring subjects. I do like to do different stuff and I like to experiment a bit but inspiration is sometimes lacking and the paper in this journal is challenging.

After three weeks of mundane things I got a little bored so I  decided to do a little pencil portrait each day, as pencil is more acceptable to this paper. I don’t have to think of something different to draw each day, but there is enough variety in faces to keep me challenged. I do enjoy drawing faces and I can sit in the living room and do a little sketch in my lap, keeping the hub company while he watches tv. And there is an endless supply of interesting faces to be found on Sktchyapp.

After I’d decided to do these daily portraits I read that Marc Taro Holmes (Montreal, CA) and Liz Steel (Sydney, AUS) are inviting the world to join in with #OneWeek100People2017. The goal is to draw 100 people in one week from March 6th to 10th. I’m going to try for this – 20 quick sketches a day – 5 minutes apiece should be doable if I can speed up a bit and not worry too much about the likeness. Just so long as they look human. The aim is practise, not perfection and this should be an interesting exercise. Anyone else going to do this? 

For something different this week I also managed to meet up with the local sketching group for an outing at a national trust historic farmhouse, situated in wonderful garden surrounds. It’s always fun to paint with a like minded group in a beautiful setting.

235 A week of portraits

This week has been a week of portraits. Since discovering Sktchyapp I seem to be engrossed in sketching people. In the evening instead of watching a mindless tv program I grab a journal and pencil, pick a photo from Sktchy’s never ending stream and limit myself to a 15 minute sketch. These first 3 were all done in a Moleskine journal with a 7B pencil.

Then as I like to try something different, the next 2 sketches were done on Strathmore toned paper, first buff then grey, with an ink outline, and watercolour pencil and brush pen on top.

Each week a photo is chosen as a challenge on Sktchyapp. A beautiful photo was provided by Nadyia Duff for this week. I decided to do a semi blind contour drawing first. This is done looking at the photo and not the paper you are drawing on, while drawing a single line without lifting the pencil off the paper. I love doing these to loosen up.

After the fun I did a proper attempt, starting with a pencil sketch and using the colour of  Stonehenge paper for the skin tone, then adding a little bit of shading in transparent gouache with thicker paint for the eyes and hair.

It’s all very well working from photos for portraits but when it comes to sketching real people in real time it’s another matter. I tried some cafe sketching one morning, but people keep moving, especially if they think you’re drawing them and get self conscious. Oh well, it’s good practise and fun playing with a magic colour pencil and waterbrush.

I also managed to get out for a quick sketch walk. I wanted to test run my little palette I attached to my towelling wrist band with Velcro to see if it worked. And it does. One hand holds the journal and the other the brush. No trying to juggle palette and book in one hand. And I ocan fit the palette, journal and pen and phone into a bum bag. Super lightweight sketchwalk 

I hope I get to use this on my travels. Wish me luck. This may be my last post before I’m off for a month. If I’m able I’ll post to my Instagram account. That’s if there’s anything worthwhile to post 😄

232 Pet Portraits and Sketching

Something a bit different this week – a Sktchy portrait first up. I really want to be able to capture faces quicker than I am doing at present, so by tapping into Sktchyapp I can find thousands of photos to use for practise. I had great intentions of doing several quick practise sketches each week but I only managed one this week. Just a 2b pencil on cartridge paper.

In my town Thursday morning has now become a regular Meetup with a few other artists for some local sketching. As we are in the middle of winter only a few diehard sketchers braved the chilly winds in the centre of town this week. I’m getting a little more comfortable sketching in public, and don’t really care if I’m making a spectacle of myself anymore. I find it interesting that previously people would just pass by, but when they see you sitting there sketching, the same people will stop and chat about drawing and art in general. 

I sat opposite the town hall and sketched it with a Uniball Eye pen on Canson Montval paper, then added the watercolour at home where it was a bit warmer. We actually had a couple of hours sunshine so I was able to capture the shadows from a photo I took.

I also managed to finish a painting I sketched last weekend. This cute little fellow was from a photo by Shadoe posted in the weekend challenge on Wetcanvas. I tried to capture his personality as well as his likeness. Painted on Arches cold press watercolour paper.

As an animal lover I do enjoy painting dogs and cats. This got me thinking during a visit to our local veterinary clinic early last week. While I was in the waiting room I thought it could do with a bit of animal art displayed on the walls. That got the brain ticking over. Maybe I could get a few pet portrait commissions if I displayed one of my paintings there. It would help a little towards the vet fees too 😄.  They were happy to do it, so as a result I am now in the Pet Portrait commission business. I’ve updated my Pet Portrait  page. Have a look and tell me what you think.

# 211 My week of sketches

I do a lot of my sketching from photo references on the weekend challenge on Wetcanvas. Last weekend it was my turn to host the challenge and my sister kindly allowed me to post some photos of her recent trip to China. So of course I had to do a few of them.
I quite liked the shadows falling across the doorway in one photo, so I thought I’d like to try that, but the paper in my little journal does not like layers, or even watercolors very much, so the shadows weren’t very successful. Pity about that. I might even attempt this again on good paper.
I thought it was appropriate to try a Chinese style calligraphy text to accompany this sketch. After experimenting with a couple of different pens I had more success using a small brush and black gouache for the lettering. 


For a change I thought I’d do a “sample” painting of a possible larger painting for my bedroom. Gouache only sketch.


Now something different, drawing lips. I started with graphite and spent way too long on that so I tried watercolour pencils,  then gouache. Then I decided to fill the page by seeing how little I can get away with and still look like lips. I found many great reference photos for these on Pixabay, where you can find some amazing images, not only portraits. The lettering was done with an Artline Calligraphy .2 pen.


Another possibility for a larger painting along the same theme as before. Gouache again.


I’d like to be able to speed up my shorthand note taking sketches. I used another of my sisters photos for reference. I’m not happy with my work sometimes so including an appropriate  quote puts it into perspective and reminds me not to get precious about it. 🙂


And a  now commission, yay!  It’s nice to know that someone liked my work enough to commission me to paint a little teddy bear image for their logo.


Finally an “Etegami” type sketch.  I don’t think I can call it by that name because I’ve learnt that an Etegami is letter art and “must ” be posted. So I’ll just call it a simple sketch with words. Any ideas for a more apt name for this type of sketch?


As you can see there is definitely no theme or continuity to my choice of subject matter. I jump from here to there and some days I have absolutely no idea what to sketch. Maybe I should pick a theme and stick to it for a while but I’m sure I’d get bored with it very quickly. But I’m pushing myself to keep on at it, simply putting more miles on the brush and pen and hoping to get better along the way. I’m open to any suggestions any of you might have.

130 SketchingNow course and new journal

I have been busy for the last few weeks as I have enrolled in an online sketching class with Liz Steel. This is a super class about spontaneous sketching. I wanted to do this specifically to speed up my sketching, and get over my phobia of sketching in public.

Liz is very thorough with excellent instructions, videos and feedback and has a huge following, mainly via the Flickr site. That site is available only to members but you can follow individuals on their personal pages…….if they have one.

You can see all my homework here.

I have included a couple of my pages below – the first is from Week 1 getting to know and love your materials.

1fWeek 2 was about edges – blind contour drawing and outlines but I won’t bore you with those.

Week 3 covered shapes – abstract, negative and silhoutte. 3b.1 copyI’m up to week 4 now. This week we will be covering volume.

It’s fun doing this course and good to keep everything in a sketchbook to look back on at a later date. It’s also nice to make new online friends too. I met up with a fairly local member last week. We had a sketching day together and she subsequently came around and taught me how to make my own case bound? journal with good watercolour paper. I didn’t have all the right equipment but we improvised and finished up with this.

new journal

The cover was white linen from my old material stash which I painted with red acrylic paint, then varnished for a bit of protection.

When it was finished I had to give it a go, painting the flowers that margaret also brought along with her. What a day, flowers, fun, talk AND a new journal : )lilliumsWatercolour – Arches 300g – 19 x 28cm

122 Quick Pencil Portraits

Can’t think – brain dumb

inspiration won’t come

motivation’s out the door

procrastination’s here for sure!!

Does this ever happen to you? I had one of those days this week when I couldn’t get started doing anything and all my usual delaying tactics weren’t working either. Couldn’t even be bothered with housework or gardening so I sat and surfed looking at my favourite blogs for inspiration. There are some really great ones out there. I love watercolour, pastel and sketching blogs in particular.

Then I remembered one I had seen before my trip to Europe – David Rankin’s 5 minute Sketching Recipe for Faces here. He suggests starting with good straight on portrait photos to practice the recipe – and to look in hairdressing magazines because the photos are usually of a high standard, with good looking models and good lighting. I did a search on Pinterest and found lots of good images to start with there, just sketching straight from the computer screen. Nice hairstyles too 🙂

You are allowed to take your time while learning to get the formula right so these are longer than 5 minutes. About 30 minutes each for these.


And as I am a regular participant in Wetcanvas Weekend Drawing Challenge I used a couple of images from there posted by Valri Ary

 megan sketch spencer sketch

End of procrastination for a while – I hope. I will do this each time the condition strikes – ha!