View Full Version : Deb's gouache and sharpie marker sketch journal

Deborah Secor
09-12-2012, 02:06 PM
I decided to try a little different approach to doing sketches in my journal, in an attempt to get used to using my smaller palette (less colors--I'm a color junkie!), and painting in my little 3.5" x 5.5" Hand-book sketchbook, with the idea that I'll start going outside to paint on location at some point.

Proof of color junkie status: my tubes of gouache. Yes I use and love all of them, as well as mixing them to make lots and lots of colors!

Originally my idea was to do urban or suburban subjects, but I love the landscape too much to let it go! I've been painting landscapes for almost 30 years now and I'm still fascinated.

So, I thought I'd just start taking shots of my journal and share them here as I go. I'm not titling them, just numbering the digital shots I take. It's tempting to set some grand goal, like "I'll paint a hundred" but I know myself too well and I probably won't. :D Tell ya what, I'll post those I do here, maybe ten. Maybe 20. Or more. Or not.

I use gouache. The idea with these, so far, is to use a Sharpie marker to add some expressive, loose line work into the mix. I like the page border, making these about 2.5" x 4.5" in actual size. I paint small anyway--ATC/ACEO size-- so I'm used to that. I'm not picky. I like things messily expressive. (I've said that about housekeeping for years. :wink2:)

I'm open to any comments you want to make! Creative suggestions are welcome, too. So here we go. :wave:








09-12-2012, 02:45 PM
I think they are beautiful Deborah, I look forward to seeing more.


Deborah Secor
09-12-2012, 03:04 PM
Thanks, Doug! I'm glad to find this corner of WC... I'm into these right now, so I'm sure there will be more to come.

09-12-2012, 05:23 PM
Deborah, welcome to art journal forum. :wave: These are stunning landscapes in a tiny package. Would be delighted to see any more of these that you do. (No pressure. :))

09-12-2012, 08:11 PM
Deborah, I love these. I'm impressed that you're painting bigger pictures too(I mean this in a good, kidding way). I like the addition of the sharpie marker after painting. I'm looking forward to seeing more. Oh, are you using a Moleskine?


Deborah Secor
09-12-2012, 10:55 PM
Thanks Debby and Helen. :)

Debby, I'll be doing more, I'm sure. Right now the sketchbook is my best bet.

This is a Handbook, Helen. I like the weight of the paper for gouache. It takes even thicker paint well, and flattens pretty well, too. :lol: Yep, I'm loving painting so large!

09-13-2012, 02:37 AM
Deb, these are wonderful! :clap:
I love them all, but number 5; the dirt road leading off into the distance, and number 6 are my favorites.

I found the art journal forum from your post in the watercolor forum. I never new we had this forum. Will probably spend the night browsing it.

Maryq :)

09-13-2012, 08:37 AM
Wonderful and inspirational! As is ALL your work, Deborah. Thanks for posting and keep 'em coming. :thumbsup:


PS -- BTW, if the gods are willing and my old body cooperates, I will be at IAPS next June (http://pastelinternational.com/CONVENTIONS/tenth/tenth.html) and I hope to take you out for a coffee. If you're available. :heart:

09-13-2012, 09:36 AM
Deborah, Handbook is new to me. Are you using the regular sketch one or the watercolor one?

09-13-2012, 10:21 AM
these are great. . . do you use the sharpie over top of the gouache?

Joan T
09-13-2012, 10:47 AM
Deborah - These are lovely!!! I like your sense of light and depth in these. Are you using a moleskin journal?

Deborah Secor
09-13-2012, 03:19 PM
Neat forum, isn't it Maryq? I'm glad I was pointed this way, too. :) Number 5 and 6 are right in my "backyard", the area within walking distance of my house. Glad you like them.

Hey Jan, thanks. You flatter me... Not sure what I'll be doing at IAPS yet. I always enjoy helping out with the PJ booth, if they need me. Hope we connect.

Fidge, all I can tell you about the Handbook I have it that the inside cover says trave.e.logue, but I don't even know where or when I got it, it's that old! I suspect it's the regular drawing paper, as the paper isn't heavyweight, but it works for the gouache quite well. Looks like this one. (http://www.amazon.com/Global-Art-Materials-Drawing-Landscape/dp/B0025TZ0GS/ref=sr_1_1?s=arts-crafts&ie=UTF8&qid=1347563861&sr=1-1&keywords=3-1%2F2-Inch+by+5-1%2F2-Inch+Drawing+Book%2C+Pocket+Landscape)

Thanks, Rainy. I do a light pencil sketch first, then the gouache, and finish with the marker. I'm toying with getting a finer point to use for some really light lines, but for now I try to vary it a bit with speed and pressure.

Joan, thanks. It's a Handbook--but a lot like the Moleskine. I can tell there's a lot to explore in various sketchbooks!

09-13-2012, 04:31 PM
Thanks Deborah. They carry these at Cheap Joes and the prices look good on them. I'll try one in the future.


09-13-2012, 06:53 PM
These are great Deborah. I've played with guoache but just can't seem to get it to do what I want.


Deborah Secor
09-13-2012, 07:30 PM
Good to know, Helen!

Thanks, David. Gouache is pretty versatile, but it has some tricky aspects, too. I haven't figured out how to make watercolor behave!

One from last night and one from today.



09-13-2012, 11:17 PM
Deborah, you've got a great reflection going on the window there. Very well done!


09-14-2012, 05:38 PM
Great sketches. The window is superb.

Deborah Secor
09-15-2012, 12:15 PM
Oh, thanks! I like the window, too. The odd angles of the shutters please me. Around here the adobe houses have turquoise trim, but the photo is from the Ref Library here at WC. I can't recall whose it is, but I like it a lot. :) I think it's European, not US southwest, but I brought my own esthetic to it.

09-18-2012, 12:05 AM
Great to see you in this forum Deborah! I think you would have a blast taking that sketchbook out and painting from life, especially now that the days are cooling off in our parts.

Can you volunteer at the IAPS show if you aren't a member?

09-18-2012, 08:10 AM
. . . . I think you would have a blast taking that sketchbook out and painting from life, especially now that the days are cooling off in our parts. . . .
All you Land of Enchantment people (http://www.papnm.org/) are SOOOO lucky to have such great subjects and colors and architecture and scenery and sky (wooohoo! your skies! wow!) to work with 'en plein air'. Wonderful! Enjoy! :thumbsup:


Deborah Secor
09-18-2012, 01:07 PM
Yep, I hope to get out the door relatively soon, Margo. (I think IAPS is strictly limited to folks from member societies, but you can attend any one of the days for a smaller fee at the door. As to volunteering, you should ask Maggie Price, the head honcha, about that!)

I agree, Jan. It's a beautiful place to live. :D My plan is to paint the neighborhood (http://www.nps.gov/petr/index.htm) right where I live.

Joan T
09-18-2012, 01:29 PM
I love the shutters and the reflection in that last one!!! Great pieces!

Deborah Secor
09-18-2012, 10:02 PM
:D Thanks, Joan.

09-19-2012, 12:27 PM
These are WONDERFUL!!! Oh, to paint like you!

Deborah Secor
09-19-2012, 01:18 PM
Aw, thanks EP. :o

09-27-2012, 11:20 AM
lovely sketches :)

and I'm a colour junkie too

09-30-2012, 09:07 AM
ooh love these tiny works, super collection of colours there too :D

Deborah Secor
10-08-2012, 02:09 PM
Here are a couple of my new sketches. I use light pencil, then gouache, and finish with Sharpie markers. These are just in my 3" x 5" Handbook sketchpad.

Thanks, Vivien! We fellow color junkies stick together. :wink2:

And thank you, Scatty. :D

Here are a couple new ones.

A house in my neighborhood.

From the Watercolor Challenge this month. I loved the dark areas showcasing that blazing sunlit mountain.

10-08-2012, 05:35 PM

Deborah Secor
10-08-2012, 05:52 PM
:lol: Don't you wish we had a "like" button here? It would make so much sense... Thanks. :)

10-08-2012, 08:22 PM
Beautiful little picture.

Deborah, there is something you can do if you like the thread, you can rate it.

Deborah Secor
10-08-2012, 09:46 PM
Thanks, Debby. :) I was just thinking in FB terms. That 'like' button is a nice shortcut. :lol: Rating a thread (especially your own) is a little different.

Joan T
10-09-2012, 05:18 PM
Each of these is a little treasure!!!

Deborah Secor
10-09-2012, 06:39 PM
Thanks, Joan... :D

10-09-2012, 09:46 PM
I just went through your little "sketches" but I found each of them to be precious little paintings and wonderful works of art! I LOVE your style so much!!!! I love gouache, but I'm not great at them. I use them a little bit with my watercolors, but I still haven't been able to master them in any capacity, certainly not like you can. You are a great artist and I am so inspired by you!

Deborah Secor
10-09-2012, 11:29 PM
Aw, thanks, artyczar. I really don't think of my sketches that way. I painted in pastels for 25 years and took that work fairly seriously, but these are purely for my sanity and amusement, now that I'm out of the market. I just enjoy painting small and quickly so much!

Deborah Secor
10-16-2012, 02:54 PM




In #15 I used a paler gray marker and in #14 I just decided it didn't need marker lines at all, as you can see.

10-16-2012, 03:40 PM
Beautiful work.

10-16-2012, 08:54 PM
Deb, these are great. You seem to find the right balance with your marker use and it just enhances an already great painting. Very well done.


Deborah Secor
10-16-2012, 11:00 PM
Thanks, Debby. :)

Helen, I appreciate hearing that. The markers are still a bit of a puzzle to me. I think perhaps I'd like some line variations more than using this static size line. Sometimes I like the painting better before I add the lines! In fact, in #13 you can probably see that I put a lot of detailed bits in the purple bush, and then wet my brush and softened the whole thing! Then in #14 I just couldn't see where lines would work, except for a few light gestures in the bottom area. In #16 I used a black Sharpie and then a gray one for the reflections. I think it worked better that way.

I'll keep experimenting! I have a brown Sharpie I may play with, too. We'll see. :wave:

Joan T
10-17-2012, 12:58 PM
Oh these are great!!! Is that lavender??? I love these! You have a way of using just enough ink not to overwhelm the subject.

Deborah Secor
10-17-2012, 01:23 PM
Thanks, Joan. :D Actually #13 is what we call Russian Sage, and #14 is indigo plant.

11-06-2012, 11:50 AM
Deborah--I find your little paintings inspirational. You do a fantastic job of capturing the light, and I study your shadows, because they are great examples. Thanks so much for putting your paintings out for us to appreciate!

11-08-2012, 08:38 PM
very beautiful sketches and great colors. i like the strokes.

11-08-2012, 10:10 PM
Those are beautiful. . . this is a great book. I'm really enjoying watching this. I have to unpack my gouache soon and play with it some! This is a sharpie marker, not a sharpie pen you are using? I have used their fine line pen and like it a lot but haven't tried drawing with a sharpie marker, not even sure I have one. Gonna look around though as you have made me curious.

Really inspirational as well as beautiful.

11-16-2012, 10:36 AM
ooh, really like those last ones, gorgeous, yer makin me look at me box of markers i a different way, bravo on these scrummy works...

Deborah Secor
11-16-2012, 11:18 AM
Hi again! I was on a trip for a week and missed these posts, but I have no idea where the week after that has gone... <<<zip>>>

Leigh, thanks. I love painting shadows and made quite a study of them for a number of years, so I'm glad it shows. I worked in pastels, which is also an opaque medium, but I think the principles work for gouache, too. My rule of thumb: a shadow is the color of the thing on which it's cast, slightly darker, with blue added (outside.)

Thank you, cooey2ph.

Rainy, I have it in my hand. It's a Sharpie ultra fine point permanent marker. The tip is tiny, not broad or angled. I originally bought them years ago to be able to write small on slide mounts and have always enjoyed drawing with them, too. Now, I hope you've unpacked the gouache! It's a really neat medium.

Thanks, Scatty. Yep, the marker adds a little something, I guess. I used them when I first started with gouache, since I didn't know how to get the sharp edges I wanted. Now I can do that (more paint, less water), but the lines add another kind of thought. Glad you like them.

11-18-2012, 11:48 PM
I enjoy your style no matter what medium you're using. Love your color choices.

Deborah Secor
11-19-2012, 03:36 PM
Thanks, Julie. That pleases me. :)

11-19-2012, 04:41 PM
Hi Deb,

I've been away from WC for a few months due to travel primarily, and have missed it. Now that the plein air season (in our neck of the woods anyway) is pretty much gone, I'm catching up on people's art journals.

Your work here is so wonderful and inspirational! I love landscapes, and like the look of gouache in sketchbooks - and that coupled with your skill makes these really special. The addition of the sharpie for accents and edge definition where appropriate really adds a great touch.


12-08-2012, 10:11 PM
Your sketches (or mini paintings a they seem to be to me :) ) are wonderful! Your use of color and simple compositions makes them a delight to watch!

01-02-2013, 06:58 PM
Wonderful and vibrant sketches, Deborah!
Now if only I can figure out how to make gouache work! lol

I'll be keeping my eye on this thread :)

Deborah Secor
01-02-2013, 07:39 PM
Thanks John, Jenny and surplus. I haven't had much time to paint lately but I appreciate your comments and hope to get back to the sketchbook before long!

Terry Wynn
01-03-2013, 12:26 AM
Hi, Deborah,

I stopped tonight and looked at your paintings. What little beauties you have here. You have really captured the light in these. Looking forward to seeing more. Very inspiring. #14 just has motion, captures the light...awesome!


Deborah Secor
01-09-2013, 02:06 PM
Thanks, Terry!

Here's new one...


I'm going to try to get a few more of these going again. :)

01-09-2013, 02:33 PM
Love the sunlight depicted in this one. Gorgeous.

01-09-2013, 04:50 PM
agreed - you caught the light really well

01-09-2013, 05:31 PM
Ditto. I'm currently painting (oils) a quite similar scene, though of a local mountain near us. Hopefully it will turn out as nicely as yours.

Deborah Secor
01-09-2013, 05:43 PM
Thanks, Debby, Vivien and John. Yep--the light. That's what we paint! Glad you like it.

01-09-2013, 06:30 PM
I agree this is a winner. Lovely.

01-10-2013, 04:09 AM
Fantastic! :clap:

01-10-2013, 04:45 PM
Oh, what beautiful little sketches!

01-10-2013, 08:19 PM

Joan T
01-10-2013, 11:19 PM
The color on the mesa is awesome!!! Your work is beautiful!

Deborah Secor
01-12-2013, 04:17 PM
Thanks for the support and encouragement! :D Much appreciated...

I hope to get time to do a few more of these. Where does the time go???