One of the many benefits of our recent trip away to Norfolk Island was the ‘change of scenery’ in regards to the type of subject matter I had been sketching/painting since I started this journey.
I had been doing a lot of sheds, houses, the odd seascape/landscape, farms and trees. Many were inspired by tutorials, (my own) reference photos, free images of my imagination. There were not a lot from ‘plein air’ sketching.
Whilst I was away, I did some rough pencil sketches in an A5 Moleskine sketchbook, took some reference photos and also kept up my Watercolour Sketch a Day practice however, I chose to use a different paint brand/quality. I took away a Sennelier Student half-pan set. It was a bit of a challenge as I limited myself to only 12 colours and they had some different shades to what I was/am using with the Winsor and Newton Artist quality half-pans.
It forced me to think differently in terms of mixing eg for shadows. Normally, I would use Ultramarine Blue and Sepia however, I did not have these colours available so I had to work to explore a different option.
Below, I’ve included the Watercolour Sketch a Day’s I did on the trip.
Since reaching Day 1,091 of a Watercolour Sketch a Day (3 years) recently, I’ve been endeavouring to do less tutorials and using reference photos, i.e. do original sketches. When time permits, I will do ‘on-site’ sketches. Most of these will probably be done on weekends.
It’s not so hard to imagine that there is no such thing as ‘the perfect Sketchbook’.
In my Watercolour/Line & Wash journey thus far I’ve tried a few different types and I would like to discuss two of my favourites.
Before I start though, I should mention what I use to do the line sketch as that alone can determine which type of sketchbook I use. I love using Dip Pens and also Pigment liners and as I’ve found, sometimes I have to use one or the other depending on which sketchbook I choose to use.
Moleskine: I’ve enjoyed using both A4 and the A5 versions. Currently, I’m using the A4 version as it will allow me to do 240 ‘Watercolour Sketch a Day’s’ in it. My daily sketches are mostly half A5 in size and the A4 sketchbook has 60 pages. The book is 25% Cotton and 200gsm which allows me to use both the Dip Pens and the Pigment Liners and it will take water, not a huge amount but some.
Winsor and Newton Visual Diary: I’ve only a couple of pages left in this one so I will soon be purchasing another. It is 100% Cotton and 200gsm in weight and so it takes substantially more water than the Moleskine, but interestingly, I cannot seem to use the Dip Pens in it so I use the Pigment Liners.
I’ve also tried the Strathmore Visual Journal in both A4 and A5 in both 90lb/200gsm and 140lb/300gsm and the latter copes with a lot more water but I found the paper doesn’t show the colours off as well as the two sketchbooks mentioned above, to me anyway.
Interestingly, when I use Art Spectrum waterproof ink in the Strathmore sketchbook, it takes longer to dry (up to half an hour) than if I use it in the Moleskine sketchbook.
I would be happy to hear people’s thoughts about any other sketchbooks that they would recommend that I try.
Since hitting the 1,000 mark with my Watercolour Sketch a day, I’ve been attempting to do less tutorials and also less working from reference photos. I’ve enjoyed doing the tutorials but I thought it was time to start challenging myself more by doing my own original compositions whilst attempting to apply the techniques I’ve been learning within the tutorials.
One of the challenges I have with the daily sketches is that sometimes, I do not get a lot of time to spend on them. Sometimes it can be as little as 15 minutes, sometimes up to an hour. I love doing the daily sketches but am conscious that when time is short, I don’t get the chance to do the multiple layer washes are required.
I still want to do the daily sketches as I want to keep my daily art practice going (Art is not my full-time occupation) as I want to continue to improve and I find the practice quite meditative.
One of the things I am aiming to do is more A4 size Watercolour and Line and Wash paintings. These will need to be done on weekends.
Below are a few of my original sketches since passing the 1,000 day mark.
Last Wednesday, I completed my 1,000th Watercolour Sketch a Day in a row. All of them are posted on one of my Instagram Pages – Communicating Creatively.
When I first started this Watercolour Sketch a Day journey way back in January 2019, it was for the following reasons:
I wanted to foster a daily Art practice
I wanted to improve my sketching, drawing and painting
It has been a journey of fun, challenges, (lots of mistakes), experimentation, learning and practice, practice, practice!
I remember completing 7 days straight and I was really pleased…could I make it to two weeks? Throughout the journey, I have just kept my eyes on the current day and aimed to do a sketch a day. Many people have asked me what is the end goal? Is it 1,000, 5,000, 10,000? The answer remains the same, ‘I’m just trying to do ‘a sketch a day and improve my skills’.
About 8 months of the 1,000 days we were in lockdown so I couldn’t get out to sketch en Plein Air so I completed tutorials, mainly by Peter Sheeler and Nil Rocha Art, and used reference photos (some of which were my own) and sketched from my imagination. On business days it normally has to be from the imagination or a reference photo.
It would be great to say that I improved with each sketch but that did not always happen as I felt, at times, that I plateaued for longer periods than I imagined would happen. Somedays it would seem that I was going backwards, too…
It was also a challenge doing the sketches some days due to tiredness from the business of the working day (I co-run a Finance Broking business and have a part-time role as an Entrepreneurship Facilitator, am involved with Toastmasters International and Red Point Art Association) plus more. There have also been health challenges in our family, and extended family to deal with, including losing three of them.
The practice of doing one a day was also quite meditative. More often than not, I would be playing music softly in the background. With all that has been going on in the world at large and our own world it has been quite a calming experience. I highly recommend it!
Mostly, I did the sketches in the morning as I was fresher. To get this done before the working day started, I rose earlier. Sometimes, I would get the line sketch done and do the painting after the working day was done. During the week, the sketches are A5 size and on the weekends sometimes larger.
One of the challenges I have in front of me is to be able apply the techniques that I have learnt during the tutorials to my own original works so the journey continues.
Today is Day 1,004 so I will leave it there as I hear my Watercolour Sketchbook calling me!
I’ve realised that its been a fair while since I did a post relating to my, ‘Daily Art Practice’ aka, ‘A Watercolour Sketch a Day.’
Today is Day 872 and I chose to revisit one of my favourite subjects, a Lighthouse, though in this case the Lighthouse isn’t the main subject, it merely makes up a small part of the scene.
Recently, I purchased a book from the Book Depository, ‘Rendering In Pen and Ink’ by Arthur L. Guptill, edited by Susan E. Meyer. The book was written some time ago and the techniques were written for Dip Pens and Quills, though they can be applied to modern drawing tools. The book is an inspiration and I’m so glad to have it as I use it on a daily basis, practicing different techniques it discusses.
I have grown to love using Dip Pens and Ink from sketching and prefer to use this combination rather than use Pigment Liners when at home. When I’m out and about, Pigment Liners are far more manageable, though in the future I would like to develop/find a way to use the Dip Pens/Ink combination when I’m away from home.
I cannot really explain why I like using Dip Pens over Pigment Liners except to say that, ‘it just feels good and right for me.’
Here is another selection of recent, ‘Watercolour Sketch a Day’ efforts.
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