View Full Version : Stimulating Sketches

11-27-2014, 05:32 AM
Hi, I'm a wildlife artist and new to this section of Wet Canvas. I'd love to get some feedback from you guys.

I already use my sketchbooks quite a lot, usually working in pencil and watercolour. I tend to keep different sketchbooks for different themes: general wildlife, overseas trips, botanical, life drawing etc. My aim for 2015 is to make my sketchbooks more creative and exciting, with a view to expanding my own practice and encouraging others to be more adventurous with their own sketchbooks. It's easy to get stuck in a rut and keep using the same methods, isn't it?

So my question is, what sketching methods do you use to keep your work fresh? I've started being more adventurous in my life drawing class - I go to an untutored class so we can do whatever we want - and I've started an "experiment sketchbook", it would be great to hear about other people's methods.

I've attached some examples from my existing sketchbooks for your interest.

Thanks, Jackie

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/27-Nov-2014/1619792-Seashore.jpg http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/27-Nov-2014/1619792-Flamingo.jpg http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/27-Nov-2014/1619792-Egypt_series.jpg

11-27-2014, 02:23 PM
Welcome to Art Journals, Jackie. Your sketchbooks are fantastic. Thank you for sharing.

11-28-2014, 04:58 AM
Nice sketches.

I use lots of different media in my sketchbooks, depending on what suits the subject best. You can see some here (http://sitekreator.com/viviensketches/main_page.html) and here in this forum. Mixed media, watercolour, oils, pencil, charcoal, pastel, ink etc etc etc

I too have themed books from trips, some anything goes, different sizes and papers etc. recently I've been using the bigger S&B beta and delta a lot as I love the paper. It doesn't buckle and ruin sketches or let paint or ink bleed through.

I stick things in, experiment, write things I want to remember or come across again, like artists quotes or something about a place, the day, the light, the history, do thumbnails of formats for finished paintings fron sketches. work can be very sketchy or finished pieces in their own right ... Whatever!

Joan T
12-01-2014, 08:07 PM
Jackie, these are great! Do you usually sketch from life? I like that you keep them organized by theme.

I'm not very adventurous. I stick with the same method (watercolors or watercolors and ink) but from time to time challenge myself to do them without pencil sketching first. Sometimes I do quick studies that are ink washes too.

12-02-2014, 03:38 PM
I love your sketches, Jackie! As for me, I use whatever the subject dictates. Sometimes it is pencil or most often Pigma Micron 01 or 05 pens on paper. I use watercolor often and/or mixed dry media such as CPs, brush pens, or markers, etc.

12-10-2014, 05:01 PM
Debby - thank for your welcome and kind words.
Vivien - thanks for your input. The work on your website looks terrific. I often make notes in my sketchbooks but haven't added artists' quotes before. Thanks for the idea.
Joan - thank you for your kind words. Yes, I usually sketch from life, unless I'm doing illustrations when it isn't possible to see my subject first hand.
Kay - thank you also for your kind words.

My natural instinct is to use pencil for sketching, but some of the ideas I have for sketchbook work are:

watersoluble graphite
pen over vibrant washes of acrylic ink
conte crayon diluted with water to create tone
gold leaf (not exactly sure how I'm going to use it yet)
oil pastel with watercolour washes
mixed media

I'll let you know how I get on.

12-11-2014, 03:49 AM
All great things to use with lots if potential :). Do show them here.

Derwents tinted charcoal with a mix of using water for washes and dry could be another option. I love it (pencils and the XLblocks). It is a range of moody natural colours I combine it with a touch of watercolour if needed.

01-10-2015, 05:10 PM
Wow! I love your sketchbooks, Jackie. Please do keep posting them here, page by page.

THAT is one of the things I do to keep mine fresh. I post every page that I do. I like the comments and sometimes discussions come up. It's also a chance to stand back from it at quite a distance because I'll see the thumbnail in the process of getting the photo ready to post. So that started improving my compositions and page layouts.

It also left me avoiding doing light graphite drawings that don't photo well. I started using stronger lines and bolder marks and tones, which is great. I use a wide variety of mediums.

I love watersoluble pencils, watercolor with pen work, Pigma Micron pens both black and in colors. I've got several styles I'm refining. One is pencil sketching with soft strong watercolor pencil or pastel pencils, looser and looser with more key details and less overdetailing in unimportant areas. Another is flat out pastel sketching, using sticks or Pan Pastels or pastel pencils. I seem to be getting more and more into pastels for dry media and more into water soluble things with pen lines for wet. Rarely do gouache.

Recently I got a set of Winsor & Newton watercolour markers. I used to use Pitt Artist Pens with the small brush tip and did a lot of sketching with those, but the watercolour markers wash out into light tones and with them I've been getting even more excited lately. Either sort of brush tip marker I get bold and strong with what I'm doing, moving away from delicate pale washes and fine lines in graphite.

I've been getting into it for a few years now. I love this forum, it's helped me get to where I like what's in my sketchbooks instead of cringing because I'll have one good drawing on a page and something terrible next to it. I don't have those problems as much any more.

The other thing I do is indulge myself, a lot. I make it easy and put materials close in reach. I put things to draw close in reach. I'm disabled with some mobility limits combined with chronic fatige and chronic pain, so anything that makes it easier to get to my sketchbooks and use them will result in more art. Watercolor pencils and watercolor markers both go a lot faster than actual watercolors so I've been using them more often. Same with pastels and charcoal versus pencils, especially the kind of slow colored pencils realism I used to do.

When I can get an idea and do it immediately, that's what builds up some momentum and excitement.I don't separate books by subject but sometimes by medium, one journal is specifically dedicated to pastels and I'm priming some of the pages with grit primer.

For a nice metallic gold effect, Pan Pastels metallics are wonderful. If yo uhaven't tried them, Pan Pastels are a great dry medium for sketching. They handle like paint but are dry, the metallics are very shimmering smooth and easier to use than gold leaf. Another alternative is "shell gold" or the "real 24kt gold dot" that Jerry's Artarama carries. It's actual gold ground to pigment fineness and mixed with gum arabic to work like a pan watercolor - very easy to use and gorgeous for accents.

Actually, that's another thing besides using different mediums and styles. I switch what sketchbooks and journals I'm using between everything from Bogus brown paper pads to Stillman & Birn journals to Moleskines, and sizes of journals. Sometimes I like working very tiny and had some ATC size pads that were great for that - and more likely to get filled up than larger ones. Though lately one letter size sketchbook is getting a lot of attention as I do larger pastel sketches in it filling the entire page with one sketch instead of trying to do layouts of multiple smaller drawings. It's just plain paper but I'm having fun with it because I don't worry about using up really expensive good materials. Yet there are times that using the S&B journals with archival mediums makes me excited to be using something that good.

I guess "Change up what I'm doing" is all of it.

My subjects are usually nature or landscapes, especially cats. Occasionally people or still life objects, especially objects that are clear or shiny.

01-27-2015, 08:52 PM
Welcome! Wonderful work! I'm not in a position of "keeping things fresh" as much as "ensure the work gets done" :)

01-28-2015, 06:34 AM
Welcome! Looking forward to seeing where you take your sketchbooks!