256 Pleinair and Portraits

Our pleinair group met at a local historic cottage last week on a beautiful sunny autumn day. It’s fun sketching these old buildings with their funny angles and numerous chimneys. Artistic license allowed me to edit out the ugly buildings behind the cottage. Ink and watercolour sketch.

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Back to my current daily habit, sketching a portrait in front of tv at night. This is Foggy from Sktchyapp – 2B pencil in A5 Quill journal.

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This is Michelle in my Strathmore toned paper journal, experimenting with a Pentel brushpen and Portfolioย  water soluble oil pastels.img_3101

Mlle June in 2B pencil in Quill journal.
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Andย Kayshaย sketched with something different, having fun with a Kohinoor magic pencil in the Quill journal. These pencils have various colours in the lead so it’s a surprise to see the colours appear.

This may be my last post for a little while. I have recently had eye surgery and at the moment trying to focus is a problem, and will be until I have follow up surgery in a few weeks. Hopefully I’ll be back sketching up a storm after my break.

255 Outdoors and Indoors

Last week our pleinair outing was at the old cemetery. Some of the group were reluctant to paint in a spooky place but I thought we were paying homage to the old forgotten graves. I’m sure the spirits of the departed would have looked on us as friendly visitors. The weather wasn’t so kind to us though, as after about an hour the skies opened up and we were soaked in a matter of minutes ๐Ÿ˜„ Luckily I took a photo just before the drenching and the paint running and dripping off the page.

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Back safe and warm indoors I resorted back to portraits from Sktchyapp, trying different techniques and materials. First up is an ink and coloured pencil sketch on Strathmore tan toned paper. The white highlights are Uniball Signo white pen.

Next was a gouache and Pentel brushpen in a Quill journal.

And because I have a couple of commissions coming up I thought I should try out some “good” Fabriano Artistico paper again, and do some step by step progress shots. This is the ghastly stage ๐Ÿ˜„ Using a very limited palette – cadmium yellow, cadmium red and a little cerulean for the flesh tones. Adding some darks with burnt sienna, ultramarine and pthalo blue, and a few splashes to try and loosen up a little.

The final dark accents on the face, glasses and background.

#253 – 100 People and More

I managed to complete the 100 people challenge and actually did a few extra. 

On day 4 I used a Lamy Joy fountain pen to sketch directly and quickly. I found that sketching from photos I was taking too long for each face so I gave myself a time limit of 3 minutes each.  That was hard and I found that if I studied the face for a short time and tried to memorise it I had more success. It didn’t help that I was using a pen that I don’t get along with. Doing this exercise really showed my weakness and I know now that I need to spend more time on proportions as I often seem to leave too little chin. 

Day 5 – I was able to do some real people sketching. A painting group, a waiting room, sketchers outdoors and some little stick figures walking by. Mainly ink and watercolour sketches.

And just for fun a couple of dudes having a break.

I was really glad when the five days were up as the pressure to do 20 a day was over, but I realised that I quite like doing these faces, and really enjoyed using the watercolour pencils. So my new routine is now a portrait each evening, in front of tv. I keep my pencils and journal handy on the side table, and flick through the iPad for an inspiration photo, usually from Sktchyapp. Sometimes the sketch looks like the subject, sometimes it’s a bit off  but I’m enjoying the learning process. This was sketched with watercolour pencils and the waterbrush applied where I want to soften or meld the colours together. If I want darker colours I draw back into the wet area.




Apart from my portraits I also managed an ink and watercolour sketch from a pleinair outing in town.


Another little one of a local landmark aptly named “Dog Rock”, also ink and watercolour.

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.

247 My Week of Sketches

Thank you everyone who commented on my last post. It is good to know that my posts are appreciated, as writing sometimes takes me longer than painting ๐Ÿ˜€ I will try to do a post a week but no promises.

I’d rather sketch than go shopping, so I opted to wait in the car instead. While I was waiting I quickly sketched the truck across the road. I still had time to kill so added the cafe behind.

Then back home I decided I needed to try different ways of depicting different trees, instead of painting the same stuff all the time. I started in my journal but I was painting rather fast and couldn’t wait for the paper to dry to turn the page, so I started on plain copy paper and scrap paper. Copy paper is not really very good for watercolour but it’s cheap and good for quick experiments, and I don’t care how much I use. Most end up in the bin anyway ๐Ÿ˜€

I was then able to put my tree practise to good use as the following day I met with a painting buddy for a pleinair session at a local park. It’s good to get out there as it is a very different experience  to painting in the studio from a photo. It’s good brain exercise too, trying to work out how to paint it, and deciding what to leave in or out of the scene. There was actually a whole lot of cars and houses behind the distant tree, but I didn’t want them there so I ignored them.

Back in the studio and back to Sktchyapp for inspiration. The challenge for the week was to do a quick scribble sketch without lifting the pen from the paper. My first attempt was more or less a contour drawing with a .6 Artline pen on Kraft paper. The pen has a tendency to bleed a bit when pausing and it looks a bit like a dot to dot drawing ๐Ÿ˜€

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So I tried a different approach. For the second attempt I scribbled with a Uniball vision ballpoint pen on Kraft paper. I like this pen as it doesn’t need to be used in an upright manner like Artline or Micron pens, so it feels much more like a comfortable writing position.

Finally I felt like getting out the gouache again for another portrait. The more I use gouache the more I enjoy it. It is such a forgiving medium, although it can be a frustrating learning curve. I like to start with thin watery washes, gradually building up in thickness. If too much water is added to the next layer of paint, it can dislodge  the previous one. This can be an advantage though if you want to blend a harsh edge, and very fine detailed work can be achieved using gouache.

Not for me though. I’m still trying to get a more painterly look as opposed from too detailed. I enjoyed doing this little sketch on tan Stonehenge paper. Lovely surface for gouache. 

I’m happy to say this portrait is on its way to a new home across the big ocean 

I’m up to date now with my posts. Stay tuned for next week for another episode of random sketches ๐Ÿ˜€ 

#246. 20/20 Sketches

January 1 was the start of 20sketches20days challenge on Facebook. I was invited by a friend to join in as an encouragement to sketch more, and I find if I commit to these challenges I do sketch and experiment more, trying different things that I wouldn’t normally do. I treat these sketches as a learning challenge, in various sketchbooks or different papers. 

This was a quick brush sketch on drawing paper, attempting to mix the colours on the paper. Fun without worrying about the outcome.


The only difficultly I have sometimes is thinking of a subject to sketch. I raided the recycling bin for this bottle, a remnant from New Years Eve ๐Ÿ˜€ Here I sketched the outline initially on with a yellow pen, on  Bamboo paper, then  dipped a skewer into masking fluid and added more lines and blobs.  After that was dry I applied the colour and a few ink lines and a bit of gouache for the lettering. Oh, and the Fat Yak company liked the sketch too ๐Ÿ˜Š

Then I had a look at Sktchyapp for some more inspiration, again trying something different. This is a Pentel brushpen sketch in my cartridge paper journal.


Another Sktchyapp inspired portrait in gouache and Pentel brushpen.


A Sktchyapp geometric challenge. It started out ok but I lost my way. As it was only another experiment with coloured pencils on photocopy paper I abandoned it. The fun is in the journey, not the destination ๐Ÿ˜€
This next one was meant to be a watery silhouette type of sketch but I messed up big time and resorted to gouache to save the day again. This was the first time I’ve used gouache in my Stillman and Birn Alpha journal and it played very nicely ๐Ÿ˜€

A journey to the city for various commitments meant I had some waiting around to do. The following sketch was done while waiting in the gardens of a lawn cemetery. 

Then in the waiting room of a hospital. Not my appointment, I’m just there lending moral support ๐Ÿ˜€ I actually enjoy waiting now if I have my sketchbook. I get annoyed if I don’t have it and have to resort to playing Sudoku on my phone.

 I had my multicoloured magic pencil to play with here, but decided it needed watercolour to make it believable.
Because I’m getting rather lax in regular postings I still have more catching up to do but I don’t want to overburden this post. I do almost daily uploads to my Instagram account as I find it quick and easy, just a photo and a couple of words and hashtags. 

My question to you ….. do you enjoy reading my (sometimes) weekly notes with several images or prefer a post  with a few notes every day or so? Or even prefer to follow on Instagram? I’d like to hear from you.

243 Random Sketches

One last sketch from my Bali trip. I wasn’t able to sketch a lot on site so I took lots of photos, sometimes from the car while driving through all that crazy traffic, trying to capture some typical Balinese street scenes. This little sketch was from one of these, shot while we were passing a group of women wearing their elegant and colourful outfits, carrying their offerings to a temple.

I always find it difficult to get back into the daily grind, and coming home with a touch of Bali Belly didn’t help. I was feeling rather flat post trip, and suffering from acute lack of motivation and inspiration. Then I happened to notice the beautiful light on the trees out the front window which made me want to do a quick sketch with watercolour and my relatively new water soluble oil pastels. I would like to play some more with these at a later date.

One online friend suggested doing an daily advent calendar sketch leading up to Christmas, so I stole an idea from another trying 3 different techniques on the same subject. Strawberries 3 ways, watercolour brush sketch, then gouache and a contour drawing with some colour splashed on.

My new car was the subject for my next sketch. It is a beautiful apple green and I found that Koi Sakura green in the travel palette was the perfect colour. I love the fact that I can find my car easily in car parks filled with white or grey cars.

Next sketch was of poor old Snoopy, found while looking through some boxes. Snoopy was my sons very first toy and is wearing a jumper knitted by his Nanna. 

The marker I used for the lettering smeared when I used an eraser. Maybe I just didn’t give the marker time to dry on this paper. I’ll need to experiment with this a little more.

As I was supposed to be doing Advent type sketches I thought I’d do something Christmassy. I haven’t put up the large tree for a couple of years as we were spending Christmas elsewhere and it does take a some time to set up and decorate. But this year the crowd will be at our house so out came all the boxes.


And then the decorations, too many to sketch ๐Ÿ˜€

These sketches were in my resurrected Stillman and Birn Alpha journal. I took this with me when I visited France a few months ago but it didn’t get much use. I found I preferred my little lightweight handmade journal that I could slip into my bumbag when I went on my morning sketchwalks, and I tended to use the S & B only when I was able to sit at a table or desk and spread out a bit. 

So the next challenge for me is to fill up this journal ๐Ÿ˜€