View Full Version : Jean's Carnet de Voyage Watercolor Book

07-18-2010, 01:26 AM
I've been thinking about posting from my Carnet de Voyage watercolor notebooks for a while, but I have a hard time characterizing exactly what I do in them. But today, I did a painting from an old WDE that I want to share, so I'm going to dive in and try to explain it.

The Carnet de Voyage is a 15 page, 6" x 10", 140 lb Arches cold pressed paper. I use it almost exclusively for watercolor. While I take this book with me when I travel, so far I have seldom done any plein air work in it. I often take it with me when I am babysitting at my daughter's house and do current or past WDE's in it, or use my own photos as reference. It's hard to say how this work is different than when I sit down to do a "serious" watercolor, but I guess I am usually relaxed and often the work looks more spontaneous because of it.

I am currently a few pages into Volume 3. Because a lot of these are WDE references, I have posted many of them over there already. So I apologize to any who have already seen some of them. I won't post everything, but will start with what I did today and a few others and over time will back-post some that are interesting for one reason or another.

So what I did today:


Fish in Coral - Mixed Media
6" x 10" Carnet de Voyage Journal
140 lb cp paper; various artist watercolors
Liquitex Black Lava texturing gel; table salt texturing
Reference photo by lisilk; W/C WDE - 5/14/2010

This was done during my weekly watercolor class. I am glad to say I made the initial drawing freehand, in pencil, from the reference photo. Another factor of note is the black texturing at the bottom. I recently got a jar of Liquitex Black Lava Texturing gel and tried it out for the first time. I really like it! You can put it on as thick or as thin as you like and when it dries, you can paint over it. Watercolor will color the paper but not the black gel; acrylic would color both the paper and the black gel, but you would still have raised texture on the paper. I want to do more experimenting with this in the future.

Next, I'll show a couple of pages of color samples. When I got my 72 color set of Inktense Pencils, I did these in the back of the Carnet de Voyage:

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/17-Jul-2010/127224-72_Inktense_P1_small.jpg http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/17-Jul-2010/127224-72_Inktense_P2_small.jpg

May, 2010
72 pencil Inktense set
Carnet de Voyage 6" x 10" watercolor book
140 lb Arches cp

So far, I have most often used my 48 pencil set, which I take along with me in my traveling art bag, but this one has so many really lovely additional colors that I will be doing more work with it in the future.

Finally, here is a sketch of my daughter's side patio. I like this one because again, I sketched it freehand, plein air and painted color over it in a couple of different sessions. Sorry - the scan is a little bit fuzzy.


May /2010
Waiting. . .
Plein Air
6" x 10" Carnet de Voyage Journal
140 lb cp paper; various artist watercolors

It's late now and I need to get up early tomorrow, so that is all I will post for now. I will catch up some of the other work from this book at a later time, but will mostly show my work going forward.


07-18-2010, 01:40 AM
These are very nice Jean, thanks for sharing them here. I don't follow the WDE so I haven't seen them. I can only track so much stuff here on WC and still have time for my own artistic endeavours and that annoying thing called my job. :D


07-18-2010, 01:57 AM
These are very nice Jean, thanks for sharing them here. I don't follow the WDE so I haven't seen them. I can only track so much stuff here on WC and still have time for my own artistic endeavours and that annoying thing called my job. :D


:lol: :lol: :lol:

Thanks David! I understand the annoyance that comes from the job. My job got in the way of my life too much, so I was relieved to get old enough to retire from it. Now I'm so busy I wonder how I ever had time to hold down a job in the first place! :lol:

Vivien Maloney
07-18-2010, 04:01 AM
Me too! My friends all say to me how "how did you ever have time to work", but the answer of course is, I didn't do all that I do now when I was working. I am busy now and my day isn't long enough, but I always make time for my art. Love these two paintings. They're both so fresh and clean. I've never used Black Lava Gel. Not sure if we can get it here in NZ, but it sounds really interesting to use. I'm all for trying new art supplies. I like your Inktense swatches. When I bought my Inktense, I did do swatches, but mine are very messy and not fit to be shown to anyone! I originally bought the basic set of 12, then went back to the Art Shop twice and bought individual pencils until I now have 36. I use them all the time for sketching in the Scavenger Hunt and love them. This watercolor journal looks as if it's going to be one to follow. Looking forward to seeing more.

07-18-2010, 04:53 AM
Jean, these are such beautiful paintings, like Vivien says they have such a light and fresh quality, but real strength in their design, and your relaxed state comes through, these are very calming to look at I wish I could do watercolour, I make the most awful mess when I try. That looks like nice paper to work on, I've seen these books in the catalogue, mayb when I've finished my 21 days sketch habit I could buy one to celebrate the achievement, oh and some inktense too, and some more pecil crayons, I need more reds....

07-18-2010, 08:31 AM
Your two sketches are excellent. The black lava gel sounds really interesting. Looking forward to seeing more of your sketches.

07-18-2010, 06:16 PM
The fish are marvelous. The black gel stuff sounds interesting.

Ah, inktense, on my list of supplies to get one of these days. Great swatch test.

The patio looks inviting with the shade lines across the chairs and that lovely plants to keep things cool.

07-18-2010, 07:02 PM
Really like the fish Jean, well done!

07-19-2010, 12:24 AM
Jean, both of these are beautiful. The fish and coral scene is exquisite. One of my favorite subjects rendered perfectly. The patio scene is gorgeous too, the light in it is great. But that coral scene lingers in my mind, you have the feel of it and the graceful motion of the animals so perfect.

07-20-2010, 01:39 AM
Vivien, Christine, Michelle, Robert: Thank you all for your kind comments. I DO love watercolor and generally have more success with it than anything else, as I have used it a lot more.

I'll go back now and pull a few out of Volume 1. My first Carnet de Voyage was a gift from my watercolor teacher at the time and his wife. They organized a group trip to Italy and gave each of us a journal to work in as we went along. The trip was great, but we had much less time to paint than I had expected. At that point I had REALLY not done any plein air, so was pretty hesitant and slow.

We stayed at a lovely villa in Tuscany called Poggio alle Villa. I got really travel weary one day and decided to stay back and paint the grounds. This is one that I did that day:


Poggio alle Villa
October, 2008
W/N Cotman Field Travel kit /
Carnet de Voyage 6" x 10" journal

This was the view from our hotel in Florence. I had a lovely room, with this great view, while our teacher had a window facing a blank wall. He was not very happy about that!!!

Florence (Firenza), Italy
October, 2008
W/N Cotman Watercolors
6" x 10" Carnet de Voyage notebook
Sketched on location, finished in studio

The next one is a copy of one that my teacher posted on his web site for his students. This was drawn freehand from a print and painted while I was on a cruise ship down the Pacific coast of Mexico in May of 2009.


Tom's Window
May, 2009
W/N Cotman watercolors
6" x 10" Carnet de Voyage notebook
Reference from Tom Tiedeman (with permission)

These beautiful birds were also painted from a photo on the same cruise. I've not been very good about noting where the reference come from, as I have been learning and had no intention of selling my work, so I hope I am not violating anybody's copyright by showing this one. I will definitely be more particular about that in the future.


Mating Dance
May 2009
W/N Cotman Watercolors
6" x 10" Carnet de Voyage Notebook
Reference photo: Unknown source

Finally, here is one I did at the beach at Carlsbad in March of 2008:

Carlsbad, CA - by the Power Plant
March, 2008
W/N Cotman Watercolors
6" x 10" Carnet de Voyage Notebook

That's it for tonight. I'll post more in a few days.


07-20-2010, 02:08 AM
These are all so beautiful. Great form, strong values, beautiful colors and great compositions. I think the class must have made quite an impression on you. Thanks for posting so many of these beauties.

Vivien Maloney
07-20-2010, 02:46 AM
Beautiful watercolors Jean! My favourite would have to be the two birds. I love the wet in wet background on that one.

07-20-2010, 03:48 AM
Jean - all your paintings are absolutely gorgeous. I love the fish and coral at the beginning as well as all your daughters patio. And i absolutely LOVE the mating dance painting, it's stunning!! what a great journal/sketchbook. i really enjoyed looking at it (and more than once i might add)!!

07-20-2010, 09:04 AM
These are all wonderful sketches, Jean. And what great reminders of your travels. I too love the colorful, soft background on the bird sketch.

07-20-2010, 01:19 PM
Wonderful paintings. Great remembrance of travels taken. Just beautiful.

07-20-2010, 04:05 PM
Yes - wonderful watercolours here. You really can make watercolours work. I'm particularly interested in the one's done from life. The Florence one is a very good division of space making an pleasing composition, and the beach one has a nice open aspect in the simplicity of the washes with a good dark setting it off, and I like the delicate sprinkilng of stone/shells? on the sand for added interest in the foreground.

07-24-2010, 12:27 PM
Robert - thanks for your comments. Yes, I took several classes from this particular teacher and then I felt I had to move on. His work is loose and lovely in a way that mine may never be, but I found that I needed to kind of develop my own style. About that time I discovered WetCanvas and I have been WetCanvas and Jean-taught ever since.

Vivien: Thanks! I love the colors in those birds. I must have an affinity for egrets and herons, as I find in looking back that I have painted them several times.

Thanks Tania, Michelle, and Debbie! Yes, it is a wonderful reminder of my travels, even when the work is done AFTER the trip! :lol:

Xina - Thanks! The beach scene has such fond memories for me. It was the first time my daughter and I took her son Jake to the beach and he absolutely loved it! They went for a walk (with the stroller) and I sat on the sand and painted. After they came back, I took Jake out into the waves and he began an intense love-affair with the ocean (which his Grammy also has!)

Here are a few more from Volume 2.

This one is from life. It is in a neighborhood called San Elijo Hills and I pass by here every time I go to my daughter's house. The colors are a little more blue-ish than IRL, but not too far off. I sketched this from my car one day (parked at the side of the road, of course :lol: ) and then snapped a photo so I could do the watercolor at home.


San Elijo Hills
~ September, 2009
6" x 10" Carnet de Voyage Journal

Can you guess who this is??? (Hint, it was from Robert Sloan's WDE). Can't remember exactly when but, yet, it's ARI!!!

Ari on Robert's knee
Reference from Robert Sloan's WDE
6" x 10" Carnet de Voyage Joural

Early-on in my watercolor journey, I went through a "rose-phase." This is one of my roses. The rose was transferred from a photo rather than sketched, as my main goal at the time was learning how to manipulate the watercolors.


Yellow Rose
Date: Unknown
6" x 10" Carnet de Voyage Journal

07-24-2010, 02:40 PM
Jean, all three of these are fantastic! I love that sunny, flower-filled scene with gorgeous buildings and soft blue hills. It's so beautiful and exactly what I imagine goes in one of these travel journals. Glorious.

Then there's Ari. I love him. I recognize him. That's my Ari! He's so beautiful. You captured his sweet, sleepy look perfectly. He was purring when I took the reference photo, dozy and purring and slightly confused at my clicking the camera moving it around. You got his shadowed eyes so perfect. It's wonderful!

Last, your yellow rose is great. Good idea transferring sketch lines from a photo to focus on handling the colors. Sketching a rose is difficult until you've done it well a dozen times, then it gets easy. But up to that point roses are some of the hardest flowers around. Your tracing it made you pay attention to its contours and help understand them, which will help the next time you freehand draw one too. I love the way you edged the yellow petals with orange, it's got striking coloration.

07-24-2010, 05:08 PM
Jean - wow! These are awesome! The colours are beautiful - that rose is stunning! Of course Ari is WONDERFUL! I smiled when I saw that thinking "I know who THAT is!!" :-)

07-24-2010, 05:40 PM
The clock tower scene is marvelous. Love what you did with the trees in the foreground. I recognized Ari before I even read the photo credits. LOL I think he must be the most painted cat here on WC. Lovely painting. The rose is beautiful.

07-25-2010, 07:12 AM
This is a lovely series for your Carnet de Voyage :) a real 'keeper'

07-25-2010, 11:58 AM
These are wonderful! I especially love the one entitled Ari on Robert's knee. Great stuff :)

07-25-2010, 07:57 PM
Some more very beautiful watercolours. Again the one from life, the San Elijo Hills is my favourite, its so fresh and full of the life of that place, and speaks so vividly of that particular day when you were there in your car. Did you do a pencil sketch in the Carnet book or in another book and then transfer a drawing? The Ari painting is exceptionally well done, thats such a difficult subject for watercolour and very brave of you to tackle it. I'm trying to work out how you did the whiskers, was it negative space painting? When I get back to practising watercolour I shall try and remember to keep it simple and fresh as you do.

07-25-2010, 08:51 PM
Great work Jean, I like them all!

07-25-2010, 08:56 PM
Great work Jean really like them all. A lot of work went into that rose. Great landscape, very light and lively. Wonderful job on Ari.

07-26-2010, 08:18 AM
Jean - gorgeous drawings & paintings...
when i saw that cat i was like "that looks just like Roberts cat, Ari" lol, then i read your comments!! he's such a gorgeous cat and i think one very famous cat too :) LOL!!

07-28-2010, 12:46 AM

Your watercolors are consistently excellent! I really enjoyed looking through this journal.

Vivien Maloney
07-28-2010, 03:07 PM
Lovely watercolors Jean. The landscape is fresh and clean, and the rose if beautiful. Very brave to tackle "Ari cat" in watercolor, but you've made a great job of it. Robert would be delighted to see his Ari looking so good.

10-16-2010, 02:12 AM
Thanks to everyone who has commented since I last posted. Life took a major turn to the busy side and I haven't been able to indulge in my artwork for quite a while.

I've been watching the fun you are all having with the October Challenge and drooling over some of the fantastic art that is happening here. Congratulations to all of you for attempting this challenge. At last I am getting some of my time back, and now I want to play catch-up.

I'm having a wonderful weekend hosting the WDE and creating and posting my own work. Since I'm at the computer, I want to post a few more from my Carnet de Voyage sketchbooks. These 3 are from Volume 3, and they bring me current with this book. From here forward, I will generally only be posting one at a time.

I'm not sure where the reference for the first one came from. I think someone else may have posted it in the watercolor forum and I had my Saturday Painting Group do it as an exercise in pumping up the color and negative painting. I apologize to whoever it came from. I'm not intending to rip anyone off - just poor record keeping at play here.


Colorful Flowers
~ April, 2010
6" x 10" Carnet de Voyage Journal

Once again, I'm not sure where the reference for this one came from. I think it may have been a WDE, but I can't seem to find it. I am vowing to keep better records in the future!!!

Someone rang the dinner bell?
May, 2010
6" x 10" Carnet de Voyage Journal
Watercolor - Winsor-Newton Field Kit

Finally, this is my own photo - I am cross-posting this from my own WDE thread this week. It was taken in the back country at Denali Park in Alaska.


Thanks for looking. C&C's are always welcome and appreciated.


10-16-2010, 02:48 AM
more great stuff Jean! Glad to hear you are carving out a bit of art time too in your busy schedule :)

10-16-2010, 03:20 AM
very nice notebook, I like your use of colors with the flowers, all of the images are very colorful and look great.

10-16-2010, 04:16 PM
beautifully done :)

11-05-2010, 03:04 PM
beautiful paintings!!

11-06-2010, 12:34 PM
Gosh - these are stunning!!! I love the fish, and the cat and the birds (cranes?). I've seen this book for sale but have not felt worthy to purchase it and use it. These are terrific ... and I might even prefer this kind of thing to a more "serious" piece :) :) :)

11-06-2010, 02:22 PM
Every painting lovely. I'm drawn to the 2 Italian pieces. What lovely souveniers of your travels. Much more evocative than a photo any day!

11-07-2010, 06:40 AM
Beautiful paintings, I love the style. Particularly liking the fishes in the first post :)

11-07-2010, 11:46 AM
Wow! Excellent additions since I last checked in - this journal is going to get added to my subscriptions so I don't miss new posts. I like them all, but Ari, the flowers and the Denali landscape are particularly good! Great stuff here.

11-07-2010, 01:45 PM
Some gorgeous work here. Love Ari, the first one in Italy - oh too many too mention.
The one for practice with negative spaces was another lovely one. And the fishes.

11-07-2010, 05:14 PM
These are just absolutely stunning, I've steered away from watercolours because some of the styles that seem to be taught in them aren't my personal taste but your use of them tempts me. Detail and minimalist at the same time, the lovely negative space and all with lovely emotion and light evoked. Hm. May be one for next month!