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.


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?


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_2062Another 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.

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 😄 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  😄. 

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.

223 Learning by doing

I’m always learning. I think the moment I stop learning is the time to pull the plug. Every time I sketch or play with paint I’m learning what works and what doesn’t and how I would approach things next time.

Im still taking part in Every Day in May sketching. Day 5 prompt was something you see in a park. I had been invited by a group of painters to join them at a local park so I sketched the view.image#6 – A timepiece. I found my old kitchen timer, and as I didn’t really have much time for this I set the timer for 20 minutes, sketched quickly with a Pentel brush pen and finished with watercolour. I almost made it in the 20 minutes. I just needed to add the minute marks with a white pen.image#7 – A gadget for cleaning. I didn’t find any of my cleaning items and appliances appealing to paint so I googled cleaning gadgets and found these. I thought they were hilarious but doubt that they would really work. image

# – 8 Boots. I’m still thinking about my future travels and what sketching items I should take, so this was an experiment with just a waterbrush and Koi Sakura travel palette. The Koi set is a cheaper range of watercolours but it is compact with good mixing areas. I found that by misting the paints first, dipping into pure pigment and using the water in the brush to spread the paint I was able to achieve a reasonable result. It is a bit tricky determining how much water squeezes out, but I think I can make this method work. It is much less hassle than juggling a larger palette, brushes and a water pot.

image# 9 – Someone I admire. This is Amanda Hyatt, an talented artist I was lucky to take a workshop with a couple of years ago. She is one of Australia’s leading artists and was the most inspirational and motivating teacher I have ever painted with.

imageIf you are not familiar with Amanda,  here’s a link to a great video showing how she paints her wonderful impressionist landscapes.

Amanda Hyatt

And just to show what a wonderful teacher she is I’m reposting this landscape I completed in her morning workshop. All credit to Amanda as I was only following her instructions. Now if only I could do this on my own 😀

101 ahyatt

I’ll just have to keep doing and learning some more, and have fun trying.

#214 A Week of Sketches

Another week of messing around in my daily journal. I don’t know from day to day what I’ll do artwise so it always is a surprise. It’s probably a reflection of how energetic or motivated I am each day. I wasn’t feeling too inspired on Tuesday so I just picked a rose out from a bunch of artificial flowers and sketched that. The left page was a little messy so I used an embossing thingie I picked up at a garage sale, spread a layer of watercolour over it and pressed it on the page. It disguised the mess before I did the lettering.


Going down memory lane now. I found an old photo in my collection and played with it. Portraits of someone you know are hard but it is fun trying to capture them.


I used Cadmium red, Cadmium yellow and a touch of Cobalt for the flesh colour. Unfortunately some colors bleed through this paper more than others. The red in particular seems to show more. This is what the following page looked like.


I don’t like painting on this much so I did a pen and gouache sketch on a small piece of kraft paper and glued it over the offending page.


Another photo I came across was a photo of a painting by Renoir I took when we visited an art gallery on a trip to Switzerland. It was an interesting exercise trying to depict form in an impressionist style with colour pencils.


Ah, gouache again.  I do love the opacity and bright colours, and the ease of painting with this medium. Perfect for a quick sketch of some fruit. Saturday morning is market day here so I chose some plums and pears for their beautiful colour and just because I wanted to paint them.


This week the Wetcanvas 2 hour challenge was hosted by misswiss who posted the reference photos. I chose a farm landscape scene, cropped the original image and did a thumbnail value sketch before painting this watercolour. I must remember to do this each time before attempting a landscape. It makes it much easier for me to simplify the composition and eliminate unnecessary detail.


To finish off the week after a busy day I did  fun little quick pen and gouache from another of misswiss’s photos.


# 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.