Blossoms, blue ink & watercolor

Blossoms, blue ink & watercolor

Signs of spring were sprouting everywhere on my walk and I couldn’t resist stopping to sketch and paint. But I stopped so many times that before I’d gone half a mile I was so hungry I had to return home for lunch before heading out again.

The sketch above graces the first page of my new sketchbook, bound with Arches 90lb cold press watercolor paper. It’s quite different from the Fabriano Venezia sketchbooks I’ve been using the past year.

Princess flower bush blossoms, ink & watercolor

Princess flower bush blossoms, ink & watercolor

I’m really enjoying the way the book opens flat, it’s size (7.5″ tall x 5.5″ wide) and weight, how comfortable it is to hold and to hold open for working across the spread, the texture of the paper for painting and the way the pages don’t ripple, pill, or show through to the other side. The paper takes a lot of abuse and layering, which is both a good and a bad thing. Good because it holds up, but bad because it allows endless diddling around which isn’t really the point of sketching (but is a bad habit of mine).

Peets people, ink & watercolor

Peets people, ink & watercolor

And what’s a nice walk on a spring-like day without a stop at Peets for a Cappuccino at a sidewalk table and a bit of sketching/painting.  I’m still finding my way with this paper, trying to get a sense of how much paint to use, and which pens work best with it.

One thing I’ve determined for sure is that I prefer painting on site when I go out sketching, as I did with these, and not just drawing on site and adding paint later as I did last week with my sketching group. I just spent the evening painting the drawings from last week’s outing and it just didn’t have the zing that painting from life on site does.

You can make many more sketches and have more control of the paint when you save the painting for later, but then you either have to work from memory (of which I have too little) or photos (which never capture what you really see in person) or by using a pencil to softly write “Y” in areas that are yellow, “B” for blue, etc.) While I loved those “paint by number” kits when I was a kid, I’m not crazy about painting by letter now.

Art supplies, Ink and watercolor wash, Painting, People, Places, Sketchbook Pages
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Join the conversation! 16 Comments

  1. I am jealous, Jana, of any signs of spring, because other than more light in the morning, I’m not seeing any here in the Midwest. Snow, though less than the east coast, and more predicted. The only thing interesting out there in the snowy tundra of my back yard is an ominous patch of red on the white. The red tail hawk must have scored.

    But, your new sketch book sounds wonderful, and the sketch of the cherry blossoms is wonderful.

    • Wow! That’s such an interesting contrast and vivid description of your backyard. Tomorrow we are supposed to get rain, hail and even (the news guy said with excitement, maybe some snow!!!) but if it does snow, I’m sure it won’t in my neighborhood, never has.

      I imagine having a real winter makes you really appreciate spring!


  2. Ah, signs of spring! My tulip tree is full of buds…if they would only start to open!! And, I got two strawberries from the plant I have on our enclosed back deck! I should have drawn them but I ate them too quickly! These sketches are wonderful, and that Princess flower, wow, is beautiful! I hope you don’t consider that overworked!

    • Thanks Raena. Yeah, I did think it was overworked…glad you didn’t! I adore tulip trees and have always wanted one. I wonder why I haven’t gotten one then? I haven’t trying growing strawberries, but that’s because I don’t like them much. You can never tell if one is going to be sweet or sour. Jana

  3. Oh, yes! Here we are with our warmest January/February (so far) in history….we are definitely seeing signs of spring. I think you’re a little ahead of us, though! So you take your whole sketch kit with you when you walk?! I love that idea!

    • My “whole” sketch kit is fairly compact but I don’t always carry it, even though I always use a backpack so that I can carry my sketchbook, camera and other junk. At minimum I always have a teensy watercolor tin I made out of a mini Altoid mint box and a waterbrush. I don’t like it nearly as much as my regular Winsor Newton Artist Field Kit that has water container and 3 mixing surfaces all folded up and snapped together nicely. Jana

  4. Yes, around the Northern blogs I’m seeing spring mentioned. Well, maybe not Eastern USA right now!

  5. You inspire me to take a picture of my Daphne I planted last year. So fragrant and beautiful. Thanks! Jana

  6. Hello Jana,

    I enjoy reading and seeing what you have done, especially the purple flowers and the people at the cafe. The guy’s expression looks great. Thank you for sharing it all with us! :n)

  7. Jana, is this a book you purchased or did you make it… I am always on the look for really good books that take watercolor. Could you give me more info if, indeed, you did buy it? Thanks.

    • Hi Elizabeth, This is a book I made with watercolor paper, not one I bought. It was fun learning to make my own and that’s my plan going forward. Jana

  8. I always love seeing the pink plum blossoms coming out at this time of year, and then a big windy rainstorm almost always comes and sends the petals down to cover the sidewalks and my car. Petal rain.

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