261 Creative Slump.

I haven’t done a journal page for ages. In fact I haven’t done much in the way of sketching or painting for ages. 

But we are heading off on a road trip shortly and I’m getting my sketching supplies ready in anticipation. Art supplies are usually the first things I pack. I thought I’d share my favourite super lightweight sketch kit. I like to take this when I’m hiking or out strolling, not knowing whether I’ll actually get around to sketching, but have the supplies on hand if the mood strikes. That way I’m not lugging heavier and bulkier items then feeling peeved if I don’t get to do some sketching. 

I will also be taking along other supplies, gouache and an easel in the hope that I might get to do a painting or two. Wish me luck.

The tiny palette is fashioned from a credit card holder. You can see how I made it here. The mini journal is stitched with a sewing machine. The assembly and sewing instructions can be seen here. 

The only other sketch I managed to do over the last few weeks is an experimental portrait done with a BIC 4 colour ballpoint pen. Thanks to M Elizabeth and Sktchyapp for the reference photo.

The inspiration for trying ballpoint pens came from seeing the awe inspiring work of Nicholas V Sanchez. You can see his incredible sketches here

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 😀 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 😀

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 😀

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 😀 

244 Too Many Journals

I wish I was more disciplined in my use of journals. I read on some blogs how some can just fill up one journal before starting another. I seem to have several on the go at one time and have different preferences according to where I am or what I’m painting. I am getting a little more organised now though, and I’m keeping one for car sketches, one for gouache, my mini one for sketchwalks. That’s not counting my junk journal or other assorted ones with toned paper and my good paper ones.

Here are a couple from my car sketch journal, one while we were driving through the tall timber country and I tried to convey the impression of the huge trees towering above the road.

At a stop along the way trying to capture the beach scene.

When I want to paint but can’t settle on a subject I find myself browsing through photos on Sktchyapp looking for a victim. I tried the Staedtler fineliner pen and waterbrush on Sketch and Wash paper. This would have been more successful on a better watercolour paper.

I really want to speed up my sketching of faces and figures so I browsed through the Wetcanvas photos for the Weekend Drawing Event and decided that I’d try a quick 15 minute waterbrush sketch of a young girl. I added a few lines with watersoluble pencil over. Not too successful,I might add.

I decided to try a different minimalist approach, even faster, with a couple of 5 minute sketches both from Sktchyapp, using Conte charcoal pencil and crayon.

These were rather fun to do and hopefully I can learn a little about capturing the character quickly without unnecessary fiddling about.

And talking about unnecessary fiddling about I did a little gouache sketch of my beautiful granddaughter. It look me quite a bit longer than 5 minutes 😀 I loved the photo of her sleeping on a striped towel in her beachwear so I wanted to capture the moment.

I love gouache but I’m still coming to grips with it. I don’t know if I’ll ever master it but it’s fun trying. It’s very forgiving while being very frustrating at the same time.

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 😀

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 😀

242 Sketches from Bali

It’s been almost a month since I posted. A lot has happened in that time, a wedding, visitors and travel, with not a lot of free time for sketching.

First up is a sketch of the happy couple for the wedding card.


Next came the boring parts of travel. Trying to capture people at the airport certainly helps while away the waiting time, even if people move too fast, it’s all good practise.


On the plane and then the the first day at the resort. Hot, tropical weather is conducive to lounging by the pool with a glass of fresh juice. I drank a lot of fresh juices in Bali, guava, watermelon, mango, pineapple and some I’m sure I missed.img_1817

Another day, another beach. What a hard life it was 😊 I also tried to sketch the view from the front steps. Unfortunately taxis kept coming and going, blocking my view and filling the air with petrol fumes. It wasn’t such a good idea so I retreated back to the beach.


After an idyllic week of luxury resorting, we moved up to the hills of Ubud.


All of the above sketches were in my 23 x 15 cm journal. I then switched to my mini journal (16 x 11cm) and mini sketch kit on our day trips. I find I’m more inclined to do a quick scribble in the little journal, whereas the larger one I only seemed to use if I had access to a seat and table with room to spread out a little. 

The Campuhan ridge walk was very beautiful, although rather hot and sweaty, it was definetly the main highlight of the Ubud area. I did a quick line sketch while drinking a lassi (yoghurt fruit drink) at a cafe overlooking rice fields. 


I also managed another quick sketch of one of the many temples we visited. As we weren’t required to hire a guide for this one I had a few minutes to myself to do a line sketch and add the colour later.

Finally,  a couple of sketches done from photos in my mini journal.

Bali is a beautiful, tropical holiday destination with lots of different options. We stayed firstly at a luxury resort which is quite removed from the “real Bali”. The next few days were in Ubud in the mountainous region, which is surrounded by tropical jungle and rice fields. It was an artists colony and retreat in the past but is now very busy with traffic and street markets.  Then much more down market our last few days were spent in Legian which is very close to Kuta, the main shopping, bar and nightclub area. The area is completely congested with taxis, motor bikes, scooters and other vehicles all driving to the road rules that only Balinese seem to understand.

It was a wonderful holiday but it’s always good to be home.

239 Portraits and Plants

Well I started Inktober with good intentions, but as usual for me life gets in the way and I get sidetracked 😄 I did get another 4 portraits done but no way will I get to finish the 31 for October. All the reference photos for these portraits were from Sktchyapp.

One great thing about participating in these challenges is that you get to see a great variety of artwork and different tools used. 

My first portrait sketch is with a Pilot V disposable fountain pen. It has water soluble ink which I didn’t really like at first so I only used it for notes, but seeing what others had posted using this ink I decided to give it a go. The lines were softened with a waterbrush. I really like the effect and will use this again. It will be great for tonal sketches and even adding watercolour over it.

Next sketch I decided to use a bottle of Quink ink and a dagger brush, both of which I’ve had forever. This is water soluble again and has a blue undertone which appeared when I tried to lift a little of the ink.img_1485

The following sketch is done with a small Pentel waterbrush filled with thinned Sepia ink. I’m right handed so I paint with the right hand and hold a water brush with my left, and use this to soften the ink. I dipped the brush into full strength ink for the darker lines.

Another experiment, this time trying a minimalist approach. Basic linework is Lamy fountain pen EF nib, and Pentel brushpen for the hair. Yellow gouache background.img_1505

That’s where the portrait session from photos ended. The following day I caught up with a group of sketchers to do pleinair, but the weather was not obliging. There happened to be a meeting of local spinners at the centre and they kindly allowed us inside to sketch them while they worked. This lady was obviously a talented spinner as she kept the same position (almost) for quite a while, apart from turning her head to chat to others. 

Others were stopping and starting trying to fix up their thread, a bit like jack in the boxes. Even so, it’s a challenge to capture the scene quickly. I used the Lamy pen and Pentel brushpen, along with some “new” water soluble crayons that just happened to fall into my basket. Yes! I am a member of Art Supplies Addicts Anonymous 😂img_1455

The next day I tried some quick sketches of a couple of old blokes. The likeness isn’t great but they do look like a couple of old blokes ……..  I think 😊

And finally I managed to get to do a pleinair sketch, on a fairly rare sunny morning. It is spring here but winter seems to be hanging around a lot later this year. Hopefully we will get better weather for outdoor sketching soon.

img_1540I am learning a lot from live sketching, and there is a lot to learn. But it’s fun trying.