A Watercolor Sketch of My Palette

I thought it would be a fun project to create a sketch of my watercolor palette that I’m currently using.

I did a blog post a little over a year ago on how I filled my half pans. You can find my post here.

The mixing areas of my palette still looks fairly new. That’s because I enjoy using my porcelain tray to mix my colors in. When I’m at my studio desk, I have a bit more room to accommodate this larger palette and my porcelain mixing tray. I can also create larger pieces of artwork and my mixing tray can hold a bit more paint.

I’ve decided to stick with this one palette for the next week or two and get reacquainted with the paint colors and get my palette a bit dirty. This will help me figure out what colors I want to keep for a scaled down palette of colors for urban sketching.

Palette: Meeden Empty Watercolor Tin Box Palette Paint Case with 24 piece half pans

Paints: Daniel Smith Extra Fine Watercolors (15ml tubes)

Brush: Cheap Joe’s Golden Fleece Synthetic Travel Brush in size 6

Paper: Master’s Touch Fine Art Studio Watercolor 140lb cold press paper in size 6″x8″

Back into My Watercolor Paints

Sometimes I just have to let go and see where my creative juices flow. Right now, it’s creating some artwork using my watercolor paints. I’m thankful for my sketching muscle memory and for having the ability to sketch quickly and spend more time painting.

It’s been a year since I last picked up my paint brush. My recent painting was from the previous post where I used my Sennelier paint set and created the teal pumpkin. That was my practice painting session to see if I could create something with my brush.

My watercolor mojo is back and I’m taking advantage of this wonderful creative moment by sketching more pumpkins. I remind myself to use less water and patiently build the layers of colors. Also, to sit back and let my painting breathe a bit and not overdo my artwork with too many layers.

For this painting, I used my favorite Daniel Smith Watercolor paints. I used a generic 24-pan set where I squeezed my tubes of paint into the pans. I wrote a post about this process and you can find it here. I also used my favorite brushes from Cheap Joe’s.

For the main body of my pumpkins, I decided not to mix any colors and just use the colors from my pans. I went with Quinacridone Coral, Quinacridone Sienna, and Pyrrol Scarlet. For the stems, I used Quinacridone Gold for the base layer. I created a browny mix using Ultramarine Blue and Raw Sienna and used it to darken the stems.

For the shadows under the pumpkins, I used the browny mix from the stems and added a bit more Ultramarine Blue. I also added a dab of paint color I used from the pumpkin’s base color.

I tried to remember all the watercolor tips and past painting skills I developed and I have to say it all came back quickly.

Just for fun, I used an inexpensive watercolor pad of paper that I found at Hobby Lobby. I liked the size of the paper and I thought I would give it a try. I was surprised at how well it handled the layers of water and paint I laid down.

Paints: Daniel Smith Extra Fine Watercolor Paints

Brushes: Cheap Joe’s Golden Fleece Synthetic Travel Brush in sizes 6 & 8

Paper: Master’s Touch Fine Art Studio Watercolor 140lb cold press paper in 6″x8″

Getting My Sketching Mojo Back with a Pumpkin and a Prompt

After eight months of sketching non-stop with my fountain pens and inks, my creativity finally went missing. For the last two months, I was hoping it would come back. It has slowly. I try not to force it. There are some days when I feel as though I should be doing something creative, but all I do is stare at a blank page for a few minutes. Then I would close my art journal and carry on with my other daily activities.

My Graphite Sketch

When I get stuck in a creative rut, I always fall back to sketching with my favorite art medium using graphite pencils. I used my mechanical pencil to sketch out an outline. I used my 2.0mm clutch pencil to create the dark lines and shading. I used my blending tortillon to blend/smudge the graphite onto my paper and to soften the harsh lines.

My Pen & Ink Wash Sketch

A few days later, I created a pen & ink wash sketch of my pumpkin. I used my Copic Multiliner to sketch the outline and also added contour lines to create the darker areas of the pumpkin. I used two fountain pen ink colors Oklahoma City and Steely Days for the pumpkin. For the stem, I used Kansas City and Melon Tea. For the shadow area under the pumpkin, I used Oklahoma City and then dabbed a bit of Thunderstorm and used my water brush to blend out and away.

My Watercolor Sketch

I was toying with the idea of getting back into using my watercolor paints for my artwork. Why not, right? I pulled out my Sennelier watercolor set and enjoyed my time mixing my paint colors. I used mostly a wet on dry technique since the paper I was using could only take light washes. For the last layer, I used a damp brush with my teal paint mix and created a few contour strokes to enhance the shape of my pumpkin.

Challenge: Find a pumpkin to use in your sketches. Use a picture if you can’t find a real or fake pumpkin. Use your pencil to create a graphite sketch. Then use your fountain pens and ink to create the second pumpkin sketch. If you have another art medium available (watercolor, charcoal, pastel, etc) create a third sketch.

My Art Journals:

Leda Art Supply Medium-size (5.7″x8.25″) with graphite pencils.

Stillman & Birn Alpha 7.5″x7.5″ softcover with fountain pen & ink.

hand●book journal co. 5.5″x5.5″ square with watercolor paints.

My Art Mediums:

Graphite – Pentel Energize Pencil with 0.7mm HB lead and Staedtler Clutch Pencil 925 35-20 with 2.0mm HB lead.

Fountain Pens & Inks – TWSBI GOs with Stub 1.1 nibs. Robert Oster Oklahoma City, Steely Days, Kansas City, Melon Tea, and Thunderstorm

Watercolor Mixes: Sennelier French Artists Watercolor Travel Set (12). Lemon Yellow and Sepia to create yellow ochre. Ultramarine Deep and Sepia to create dark brown. Forest Green and Ultramarine Deep to create teal green.

Watercolor Brushes: Escoda 1548 Versatil Series Artist Watercolor Travel size 4 & 6

Workshop Prompt – One Fruit & One Dessert

Sketch Your Favorite Fruit:

Here I used two inky colors to give my blueberries a bit more depth. I also went from my initial pencil sketch right into my fountain pen & ink wash. I like the softer edges around my blueberries.

Here’s an example where I used a single inky color and I applied layers of color to my blueberries. A single layer of color is represented in the light blue areas of the fruit. The next darker layer is added to give the blueberries a bit more depth. Remember to leave some white space or lighter areas of your fruit.

Sketch Your Favorite Dessert:

Sketch you favorite dessert that includes your favorite fruit.

Have fun!

Workshop Prompt – Labor Day Weekend

Update (09/04): I started this sketch after I went grocery shopping and I picked up a few bottles of gluten free sauces. The colorful bottles caught my eye and I picked up my pencil and fountain pens and started to sketch.

From my two page spread, you can see I used a different style or flow going from left to right and curving up a bit. For the open white space, I plan on writing something about this dish or writing down the recipe.

It’s still a work in progress.

I have to admit that my sketching mojo has been a bit MIA (missing in action) for the last few weeks. I occasionally get in this sketching funk and sometimes it takes changing out ink colors in my art pens (TWSBI GOs) to get going again. My plan is to dump the remaining shimmering inks in my art pens and pick out some lovely Robert Oster ink colors. Okay…back to my original post.

Original post:

The prompt for the next several days is to sketch a theme that relates to what you will be doing over this holiday weekend. It could be items on your to-do-list, fun projects/hobbies, foods you enjoy, a place your are visiting, etc.

Challenge #1: Create a two page spread of your weekend activities. Think of the things you might be doing with friends and/or family or by yourself. Sketch one or a few items a day and build your story/theme.

I’ll be working on my own two page spread and post my updates in this blog post over the next few days. I will more than likely create a rough sketch with my pencil that will outline my theme for my long weekend. I have not decided whether I will I include just one day or cover three days on my two page spread. The possibilities are endless.

I will start my sketching process by thinking of the story I want to tell and figuring out a style to use. Will it look like a collage of items or random sketches across the paper? Or will I follow a pattern and place my sketches clockwise across the two pages?

Here is a previous two page spread I created back in July. My theme/story shows random objects with curved shapes spread across both pages in my journal. My objects are connected with the lines I drew through most of my objects.

Here’s another two page spread I did back in May. My theme/story was how much I enjoyed my time at my local coffee shop and capturing a colorful scene by using most of my fountain pen inks I brought with me.

Here’s a sample of my one page sketch where I documented my morning food consumption. I had continued onto the next page with more foodie activities later that day. I need to look for my art journal to take a picture of what that two page spread looked like. In the meantime, this should give you an idea of my New Year’s Eve Day Foodie theme.

I’m adding the following picture of a sketch I did at the beach. This is an example of my “window” view sketch of the beach and the ripples of water.

The above pictures are simple sketches of what can be captured with your fountain pens and inks. Keep sketching and building your muscle memory. You can always start with a pencil sketch and add new sketches each day. You can also go back and use your fountain pen inks and create the washes later.

Challenge #2: Create a two page spread of a scene. It could be your front porch, your patio, your favorite shop, favorite restaurant, favorite vacation spot, etc.

I created the following sketch back in 2019. This was my first attempt at creating a two page spread. I used a combination of my fountain pen inks and watercolors to create the front entrance of a house I visited while on the island of Nevis.

Remember to take some time for yourself. Enjoy your sketching time. You have creative license to add or remove details. Perfection does not exist. No death grips. Have fun!

If you have a hard time getting motivated, don’t forget to review your handout(s) from my workshop. There might be something in there that will get you started in the right direction. Let me know if you have any questions.

Journals: Stillman & Birn Alpha Softcover A5. Travelogue handbook 5.5″x5.5″.

Fountain pens shown: turnt pen co. Pynchon in PM4 (Brooks). Lamy 2000 Makrolon. turnt pen co. Pynchon in Peacock (Dupras). TWSBI GOs.

Workshop Prompt – Quick Pencil Sketching/Drawing

I thought I would go back to the basics and work on pencil sketching with a simple mechanical pencil for this week’s prompt. Remember: no death grips, practice sketching quickly, and do not get caught up in the details.

Fruit Sketch and Drawing:

In my example on the left, I did a quick gesture sketch or outline of a pear. I used my mechanical pencil and a loose grip to create the light lines. My pear looks flat.

On the right side, is my final drawing. Here I’ve used contour lines to the give my pear a bit more depth. To create more depth or dark shading, my contour lines are close together. My contour lines follow the shape of the pear and shows the areas of roundness of the fruit. I leave quite a bit of white on my paper to show the highlights on the pear. I start out with light strokes from my pencil. The next layer is to go over the shadows again and adding a bit more pressure with my pencil.

Jar Sketch and Drawing:

On the left side of my picture, I used the same process of creating a quick sketch or outline of my jam jar.

On the right side is my final drawing. I added lines to show the glass has some decorative shapes. My label on the jar is curved a bit towards the ends of the label to help make the jar looked a bit more curved.

Notice I did not erase my unwanted lines. I keep my sketches/drawings “as is” so I know the next time what lines to leave out. It’s part of documenting my sketch journey and also building muscle memory.

Challenge: see if you can replicate my sketches. Practice sketching/drawing quickly. Also look around your kitchen and grab a few objects to sketch with. Practice contour lines.

Challenge +: do not erase your lines. Leave the good and unwanted lines in your pencil sketches and drawing. Move on to your next sketch.

Mechanical Pencil: Pentel Energize Pencil with 0.7mm HB lead

Journal: Canson Artist Series Mixed Media spiral bound

Workshop Prompt – Shapes

In my workshops we created basic shapes for our warm up exercises. To activate our muscle memory. Our shapes will look flat which is okay for our warm up exercises.

Remember: no “death grips” and try to move your arm while sketching instead of just using your hand. I mentioned in my handout that if you just use your hand, you will start to feel some tightness in your grip and you may feel a cramp starting to develop in your hand. Remember to relax while you sketch.

Many of you wanted to see more of my sketches, my layouts, and my writing. Here is the most recent sketch I created while I was sitting at my studio desk. I had gathered round objects to create my two page spread.

Notice the cast shadows and the colors I used under my objects

Here are a few of my objects that I used in my sketches. This view is looking top down and off to the side.

Here I have my objects lined up on my desk with a side view of my inky bottles. Sorry my lovely miniature vase was too round to sit sideways.

My challenge is for you to look through your inky bottle collection. Pick out three (3) bottles of your favorite ink brands and try sketching them from the top down view and then from the side view (if possible).

Use your pencil to create the outline first and then sketch what details you like. Do not erase until you have all the lines created (good & bad). Take your permanent pen and redraw the lines you want to keep. Go back and erase the bad lines.

Use your fountain pens and inks to create your washes. Remember to keep the white of your paper to represent the highlights on your objects. If you need to make certain areas of your object darker, make sure your first layer is dry before adding more color to your object.

Most important thing to remember is have fun!

If you have any questions, you know where to find me. 😊

Sketching with My Lamy Ballpoint Pen

I set out to do an experiment with all the ballpoint, rollerball, and gel pens I found in and around my studio desk. What did I uncover? I immediately eliminated the SWAG pens I received from various trade shows I’ve attended over the years. Their inks dried up fast inside the pen and were deemed unusable. They were basically disposable plastic pens. You know what I’m referring to.

I had a few name brand pens in my possession. I created a sample page where I sketched with the pens and then apply my fountain pen inks over the initial sketch. I also created sample lines and then applied water over the lines to get a better idea of how the ink reacted with water.

My gel pens and rollerball pens basically smeared when I applied water to the lines.

I was surprised to see my Retro51 ballpoint ink react the way it did with water.

My Cross, Parker, and Lamy ballpoint pens handled the water a bit better.

Here’s my Lamy ballpoint pen collection which includes the Al Star in Green, Vista in Clear, and Al Star in Cosmic.

My Lamy ballpoint trio

My Lamy writes smooth across the different art papers I use. So far, no skipping or fading. The Vista model has a thinner grip section than the Al-Star. I do like the clear body showing off my ink refill.

I keep my Lamy ballpoint pens in my art journal and in my art pen case. I can find my refills (M16) at most online pen shops. They come in Fine, Medium, and Broad tips.

My Lamy ballpoint pen is fast becoming my favorite cool tool for creating quick sketches with a fairly permanent ink. The pen colors they come in are really lovely.

Ballpoint Pens: Lamy Al Star in Green and Cosmic with Fine tip. Lamy Vista Clear with Fine tip.

Journal: Canson Mixed Media A5.

Sketching Around Me

This morning, I gathered a few of my fountain pens and my sketch journal and placed them in my messenger bag. I ended up at a coffee shop I’ve been meaning to visit and never had a chance to stop in. It turned out to be one of the best coffee shop and sketching experience I’ve encountered.

Inside the shop I saw lots of open space with plenty of tables and chairs. Lots of folks wandered in and out of the shop and grabbed their coffees to go. A few folks, who sat towards the back of the shop, were busy working on their laptops. I was receiving positive vibes here.

I sat at a table in the middle of the coffee shop and started sketching what was immediately in front of me: my cup of coffee and my sugary treat. Then I looked around and saw the display cabinet at the back of the shop. There were colorful cups and bags of coffee on display. I felt a challenge hit me and I started sketching the back wall.

When I stopped to see my progress, I felt there was something missing in my sketch. I looked around and saw a vase with some blue and yellow flowers on the counter and I thought adding a floral scene would be a perfect way to finish my sketch.

I’ve been seeing lots of self improvements over the last few weeks. I am no longer hiding at the back table and sketching. My art supplies are spread out across the table for everyone to see. I’m becoming more efficient with my observations and sketching less which results in less lines to erase. It could be I’m getting better at memorizing what I see. Also, I find myself smiling more while I’m creating my artwork.

Pens used: TWSBI GOs with Stub 1.1 nibs. Pilot Prera with CM nib. Faber-Castell Hexo with Medium nib. Lamy Al Star with Cursive nib. Copic Multiliner with 0.1mm tip (permanent ink).

Inks: Van Dieman’s Ink Morning Frost and Hail Storm. Robert Oster Heart of Gold, Melon Tea, and Thunderstorm. Diamine Pink Glitz, Golden Ivy, Enchanted Ocean, Seize the Night, and All the Best.

Journal: Stillman & Birn Alpha Softbound A5

One Subject and Two Different Art Mediums

Sometime last year I created two beach sketches. One was a watercolor sketch in my watercolor journal. The other was a pen & ink sketch created in a different art journal.

This year, I thought it would be fun to create another one. This time I used one sketch book to create the two art samples.

Here’s a side-by-side view using the two different mediums.

The left side was created using my fountain pens and inks. The right side was created using my watercolor pans of colors.

I have several watercolor palettes in my collection and I chose a palette where I thought the colors would be similar to the fountain pen inks I used. During my watercolor session, it was amazing to see how close I could capture the colors I used in my pen & ink sketch.

My pen & ink sketch took less than an hour to create. I used three layers to build up the colors and contrast.

My watercolor sketch took a few hours to create. I started with the lightest colors first and built each layer using a darker color. I also had to wait for each layer to dry completely before I could paint additional colors. That is why it took so long to finish this piece.

I love working with this watercolor paper. It can handle the brush strokes and all the water I lay down on this paper. There is hardly any paper buckling and no bleed through on the back side of the paper.

Pens: Platinum Preppy in 02 (extra fine nib) with Carbon ink. TWSBI GOs with Stub 1.1 nibs

Inks: Diamine Candle Light, Vintage Copper, & Black Ivy. Robert Oster Thunderstorm

Watercolor Paints: Art Philosophy Confections Palette: Apple, White Mocha, Pistachio Cream, mix of Blackberry and Pecan (grays), and a mixture of Key Lime and Blueberry (teal)

Journal: Franklin-Christoph Watercolor VN

Journal Cover: Franklin-Christoph Vagabond NWF