22 August 2013

secret to quicker sketching

Normally, I am a very slow sketcher --- slow at choosing a subject and slow at determining how to place it on a sketchbook page. Usually penciling in the basics (or more) before ink, then inking in just the most important lines, erasing the pencil lines, and finally adding watercolor washes. Overall, a very slow process!

Lately I have been trying to streamline my process. I've been carrying a pen, one small plastic pill box, a waterbrush, and reusable cloth. I'm getting braver at drawing directly in ink, though sometimes I'll use a blue-gray watercolor pencil which does not require erasing. But the best thing I've found to speed things up has been to cut down to only 2 watercolors: ultramarine blue and burnt umber. The above sketch was painted using only these (except the tiny diagram of optional color). When drawing on-site, I add just the warm and cool shadows. Later at home, I can add a bit of color if I wish. This really lightens my bag as well as taking away distracting options that slow me down.

If I think I'll have time to add color on-site, the second pill box holds 3 half-pans of basic color: quinacridone red or rose, a cool yellow, phthalo blue, goethite brown umber, and quinacridone burnt orange. All my recent sketches have been using these, and I am actually getting better . . . more confident in drawing as well as faster. Maybe I'll get more than one thing drawn at the next sketchcrawl.


  1. I am very slow as well. I really like your idea of using a grey watercolour pencil for sketching, this eliminates one step. Thanks for the suggestions in this post. I am just stretching to take an art journal with me and working in it while I'm out.

  2. Hello, Leone!
    The idea of using a blue-gray watercolor pencil (or other blend-in color) came from Cathy 'Kate' Johnson. She even uses the watercolor pencil to establish shadow areas before adding watercolor -- works great, especially if you can't use wet media on-site.

  3. Where do you get the little pans for the paints?

  4. I bought the empty pans, in both half-pan and whole-pan sizes from Daniel Smith. They sell them in bags of 10. I think you can also get them from Kremer Pigments.


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