233 Weekly Sketches

I keep trying to improve my figure sketching by trying different techniques and media. It keeps it interesting, and maybe someday I’ll what works best for me. For the following sketch I used a waterbrush with gouache and watercolour pencils.  This was from a photo in the weekend challenge on Wetcanvas.


I had another look at  Lyn Chapmans Sketching people book again for some more inspiration. This really is a great book with loads of information and examples. Sktchyapp once again came in handy for providing different images for my victims. I wouldn’t dare post them there and offend anyone, but they provide good subjects for quick practise. These are all sketched directly with a waterbrush, watercolour and watercolour pencil on top.


The blue blob in the middle of the next page resulted from me dropping it onto a freshly filled palette. That is a swatch of MGraham ultramarine blue and after scraping off the excess paint it looked a bit like a figure, so I used the waterbrush to make it into one πŸ˜„ I thought I might as well do some more and just continued using the waterbrush to do some doodles.
Trying yet another idea, this time contour sketching with a Preppy fountain pen and brown ink, with a touch of watercolour over. 


And lastly, a change from people sketches, a pleinair outing at an old building in town.  This building served as a store and office for the nearby convict-hiring depot in the 1850s. It’s framed by a couple of enormous Moreton Bay Fig trees.

I’m always disappointed with what I achieve when I’m out sketching on site but when I’m back home away from the scene It doesn’t seem so bad. I guess I just can’t compare it against the original πŸ˜„

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231 Compact Sketching Kit

I’ve been busy with stuff other than sketching this week. Exciting things like planning for my trip overseas, to welcome my first grandchild. I would like to do some sketching along the way, to fill in the transit hours –  19 hours flying time plus 2 hours at Doha airport. I don’t want to be lumbered down with taking stuff I may not use I decided to make myself a new kit, with just the bare essentials.

I wanted my kit to be compact, minimal and light, something I could slip in my handbag and use to sketch on the plane and hopefully a few sketches in the area. I don’t expect to have much free time for sketching while I’m there but I want to have stuff on hand if the opportunity arises.

 Yesterday I spent time designing and sewing a kit to hold my pencils, pens, palette, waterbrush, journal with room for a couple of extra items in the top flap. This is made from an imitation leather, to fit a 21 x 14 cm Stillman and Birn Alpha journal. I tossed around taking my lighter hand stitched 21 x 21 cm journal but decided the S&B has so many more pages I can scribble away to my heart’s content without worrying about running out of space. It will also fit the square one if I decided to take that instead as I do prefer the larger format. I painted the sketch below in the S & B journal, trialling the kit using the same tools.


My watercolour pencils have been modified – cut in half and glued together so that I can have 12 colours in 6 slots.

Much as I like my existing travel palette with 21 colours I decided I could make do with just 3 – Yellow Light, Permanent Rose and Pthalo Blue. I decided to add a few others for convenience and I couldn’t do without Ultramarine Blue. I made an insert I made to fit in a tiny credit card holder, with a thin piece of sheet plastic or Perspex and fashioned the wells with hot glue. I can slip it in and out if I want to change the colours in the palette. I know you can buy these online but postage to Australia is a killer. Hey, it’s not fancy but it cheap, and it works πŸ˜„

I squeezed the colours from tubes. Some colours (winsor and Newton) I added a tiny drop of honey with a toothpick, then stirred thoroughly. This settles the paint into the well. The honey stops the colour from drying too hard and makes them much easier to rewet. Other colours MGraham already have honey added. 
Using a small clip the palette can be attached to the book leaving hands making it much easier to sketch/paint in restricted places.


The only other painting I was able to do this week was a pleinair sketch, well sort of. It was such a cold and blustery day for our group Meetup that we sat inside a local cafe and sketched the outside view.

230 Weekly sketches

I was enticed back to the weekend challenge on Wetcanvas last week after some time ( thanks Christine 😊) and chose a photo of an everyday scene for the 2 hour challenge. As I am also doing paintings for #Worldwatercolormonth I decided to use the month to try out different papers. This one is on Strathmore mixed media paper. It takes washes really well and dries fairly fast, which is how I like to sketch/paint so I don’t know how it stands up to layering.

Then I chose a photo from Sktchy for a rather quick painting on Fabriano Artistico. This is lovely paper which holds the moisture for a longer period, allowing nice wet in wet merging, as seen under the cap brim. img_0760

Another portrait from Sktchy. Loved the colours this lady was wearing, but I’m not too sure about the likeness. If you can’t see the original photo you’ll never know πŸ˜„ I used Bockingford paper which I didn’t enjoy it one bit. It seems like blotting paper to me, and is very difficult to lift any colour off. Where I attempted a small area the surface started to disintegrate.img_0801

I needed a break from portraits so in preparation for my upcoming trip I decided to see if I can do a believable sketch of my view in 10 minutes, using a dark sepia Pitt artist pen and colour with a waterbrush, then just using the brushpen to sketch the geranium pot on the deck. I think 15 – 20 minutes all up, so I can do it. I just have to have the confidence to put it to practise  πŸ˜„. 

The page then needed something else so I added a little bird and some lettering to fill the page. This practise page is on Arches hot press paper. Not bad stuff!

I really should post more often and I won’t have so much catching up, but I’m not good at keeping up to date. I’d rather be messing with paint than writing stuff. So here is this weeks Wetcanvas 2 hour challenge – on Saunders Waterford paper. It’s great to paint on, and doesn’t dry too quick which is good for the colour mingling you can see in the background.

I used a different technique with this painting, mainly with a 3/4 inch flat brush. A few people were interested in the background so I thought I’d add a couple of images and hopefully explain what I did. I used the 3/4 inch flat brush with plenty of juicy colour, placed the tip of the brush on the edge of the line and pressed the bristles down almost flat against the paper. Reload the brush with more yellow or blue and placed the brush next to the first stroke.

For variation I dipped one side of the brush into yellow and the other side into blue, and dropped other colours into the still damp paint. Here I used some turquoise and quinacrodine gold. 

I enjoyed painting with that larger flat brush, so much that I might even have to see if I can find a flat waterbrush and play with that.

#229 A portrait, a city view and boats.

Firstly another  portrait from the Sktchy app, in watercolour and graphite on buff Stonehenge paper. I like how this paper gives the mid tone allowing white highlights to be added.


Early in the week we had a quick trip to the city for a few days and I was lucky to meet up with the new Urban Sketchers group for a quick sketch in Kings Park overlooking the city. It’s always fun to meet up with others with a similar interest/obsession πŸ˜„ which is helping me overcome my trepidation about sketching in public, and enjoy the process.  I am also getting used to people peering over my shoulder and making a comment.

Then back home into the cold south on another sketch outing, I managed to find a sheltered spot in the sun out of the breeze. I actually got quite warm sketching while rugged up.


Our maximum temperatures in winter here vary from about 12 to 19c though it often feels a lot colder with our prevailing southern wind. Some hardy locals go swimming all year round. Me, I’m like a cold blooded lizard looking for a warm sunny spot, so I was quite happy doing this sketch.

228 Quick Sketching

I’m having  a hard time putting pen or brush to paper this week. I’m blaming it on the bleak winter weather but that’s probably a poor excuse for what is simply a lack of motivation. Scrolling through my email box I found Craftsy were having a sale on classes and I had been eyeing off James Richards Sketching the Energy of Places, another excellent class.  I succumbed, I can’t resist a bargain πŸ˜„ I watched the entire 7 episodes that night then the following day I did a few scribbles from the exercises and it made me want to explore some quick tree sketches.

The following day I met up with a local pleinair group for an outing so I tried to utilise some of the techniques. At least I learned not to get bogged down with trying to do perfect figures or trees.

 This was in contrast to one I had done a few days earlier from a photo on Wetcanvas by Surob. That was on Strathmore toned paper with ink and watercolour pencil.
Yesterday was another outing with the pleinair group to a local yacht club. I used gouache for this rather rough brush sketch.

Today being the first of the month I decided to join in the Facebook group World Watercolor Month. Initiated by Charlie of Doodlewash thousands of artists around the world are participating, with a daily painting, or at least one during the month.

Here is my first watercolour for the month, from a little sketch I did while at the yacht club yesterday.

227 After the trip

Here are a few more travel sketches, not in my travel journal, but done pleinair during my recent road trip. One of the conditions I made before setting off on this trip was that I wanted time at each of our camps to do at least a quick sketch or painting at that site. Sometimes it worked out, sometimes not. This one is from one campsite along the way, sketched with a Uniball Vision ballpoint pen and Pentel brush pen, followed by watercolour.

The main reason for this trip was to get away from the bleak weather we experience on the south coast in winter and to search out some sunshine. Our winters here are mainly rainy and cold (for Western Australia). We found some sun at Niagra Dam, an isolated spot in the Eastern Goldfields with a very arid landscape. I set up my camera tripod easel outside the van and painted this gouache sketch, with a bit of watercolour pencil scribble.
Next morning I hiked to the top of a breakaway area. The rocks have eroded away leaving the vivid red outcrops amongst the dull grey green trees, although the new growth is quite yellow.While the first was drying I turned the opposite direction and sketched the horizon.After returning home it takes a while to get back into the groove again….. or rut? I had no idea what to sketch, so I thought I’d start with something little, lying around on my desk.

The fridge and cupboards needed restocking so a trip to the farmers market for some green veg always provides something else to sketch.

Then another quick scribble with a red pencil and some watercolour over.

Still searching for inspiration I got out Lyn Chapmans Sketching People book and messed around with some faces and figures.

Then I downloaded the Sktchy app. I can now access this with an iPad as its not available to  Samsung users. Sktchy allows people to post pics for painting. Mainly selfies but good for portrait practise so I decided I’d try one. On plain old cartridge paper it’s not really the best for watercolours so I added some pencil as well. Thanks to Michelle Toudouze for her photo on Sktchy.


Well, that was totally a mixed bag this week. At least I did do some sketching after all. One day I might settle down and find my groove, instead of jumping from one subject to another.

226 Travel Sketches part 2

The most interesting part of the road trip was the eastern goldfields of WA. The land is harsh and rocky but has wonderful desert landscapes and the most amazing night skies. Easy to understand why space observatories are built out here. 

Gwalia is the most interesting place. There is still a very profitable working mine there but the nearby village is deserted and is now a national heritage site. It’s full of deserted miners shacks, maintained but not restored, and you can spend hours wandering through the huts and buildings still full of old artifacts, mining tools and household implements.

Heading west towards Sandstone we experienced fantastic winter weather. Blue, blue skies and warm enough to wear a t shirt through the day. A little chilly at night but not as cold as it can get sometimes below 0c. Sandstone is a very popular spot for modern day prospectors, as permits are not required and prospectors can go anywhere.  It seems profitable for those that know the area and return each winter for gold and sunshine.

Heading back down South. The landscape gave way from arid, rocky fields to much more lush green fields of wheat, canola and whatever grain they grow in the region. 

In Perth for a week or so I managed to catch up with Perth Sketchers for an outing to the Museum, which had a display of 100 artifacts on loan from the British Museum. Lots of choice for sketching there, although the low lighting was a bit of a challenge at times. The museum attendants were rather intrigued by our palettes and waterbrushes, as water containers are not allowed in the gallery. A Japanese tourist kept popping his head over my shoulder for a look and gave me the thumbs up.

I also met up with another sketching buddy who took me along to Tukurua. I remembered this place from my time living here. It was rather rundown then and I always wanted to buy it……. in my dreams !!!! It was recently sold for $18 million I think which was considered a very low price for it at the time.

We are back home now, after travelling many kilometres in just over 3 weeks. Our trip took us around the lower south west corner of  Western Australia, which is almost half the size of Australia. We do travel large distances to get to some places. For those of you outside Australia here is a map of WA in comparison to Europe.


Photo from http://mapfrappe.blogspot.ca/2011/02/australia.html