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Two-Minute Tuesday Night Sketching at Cathy’s, Part I

Cathy's Bonsai, ink & watercolor
Cathy's Bonsai, ink & watercolor

Tuesday night we met at Cathy’s house instead of a public place where moving every two minutes with a timer ringing would be a nuisance. We started on her deck to the sound of burbling water and birds singing and lovely sights all around and warmed up with an untimed sketch. Drawing this little bonsai on the table in front of me was just what I needed to unwind from the crazy day. The sun went down and it was nearly dark when I painted it.

Then we went inside and started the timed two-minute sketches.

Orchid, 2 minute sketch, ink & watercolor
Orchid, 2 minute ink sketch (watercolor added later)

Cathy’s Berkeley Craftsman style home is a serene oasis decorated with simplicity and a Japanese zen style. Open space and emptiness balances still-life displays of special objects, art and her wonderful collections.  She set the timer for two minutes and said “Go” and we moved through the house, our eyes and pens devouring tender new morsels around every corner every two minutes.

I added the watercolor at home later for these two sketches.

Cathy's Calla Display, ink & watercolor
6 minute sketch: Cathy's Calla Display, ink & watercolor

After each set of 6 two-minutes sketches we met back at the dining room table to look at each other’s sketches. When I saw Sonia’s calla lily and apples sketch I realized I’d missed that corner. I liked that display so much I chose to ignore the two-minute bells and spent six  minutes enjoying drawing this one.

I’ll post the rest of the sketches after I add color to them. I am soooo lucky to have such great, dedicated sketching buddies!

By Jana Bouc

I am an artist who loves (and lives) to sketch and paint in watercolor, gouache, oils and digitally.

16 replies on “Two-Minute Tuesday Night Sketching at Cathy’s, Part I”

Well you’d be most welcome, I’m sure. Your photography is wonderful! Do you sketch too? I only saw photos on your Flickr. Are those your photos on Full Circle Farm’s website? They’re gorgeous. Maybe a field trip to Full Circle for some sketching is in order. Jana


What fun, Jana. I would love to walk around that house, too.
I am glad you spent the time that you needed for the calla lilly because I think the lines are just special. One of my favorites that you have done. Looking forward to the rest.



Thanks Ole, I appreciate you taking time to leave a note. I clicked over to your blog and especially enjoyed your self-portrait and your commitment to a daily art and spiritual practice. Jana


I adore hearing about your sketching group! These quick and un-fussy sketches are a tonic after spending time with onbessive compulsive types who rework endlessly.


Hi Sherry. Cathy suggested it after watching Sonia and I spend a really long time on one sketch while she does 5. I was surprised how much you can do in two minutes! Jana


Jana…I forget…you may have already told us. Do you do all your Tuesday night sketching in one book? do you ever work on individual sheets? I always have things in so many places, because sometimes I want smaller, sometimes larger, sometimes portable, etc….which is fine, except I think keeping things in one place would give a better sense of progression.


Hi Rita, Thanks for asking. I used to have a different sketchbook for every purpose and size but now I work in one, all the way through. I use it for Tuesday night sketches, as journal to write in, for thumbnail sketches when out plein air painting, scrapbook, painting ideas, etc. I have another lined notebook I keep by the computer/phone for more businessy kinds of things but otherwise, it all goes in one book. Jana



What a great idea to do 2 minute sketches of things around you. I so love 2 minute sketches in figure drawing classes, but never thought to limit my sketch time for other things to 2 minutes. I’m sure that would help my sketching immensely. Thanks for the idea. – And love your sketches.


Thanks Lea. Great to hear from you. We need to get together! Maybe we could do 2 minute sketches with our group sometime soon. Your house would be fun with all your nice things! Jana


Great sketching Jana! It is wonderful exercise and knowing you have only 2 minutes before moving, makes you fix on the essentials and it all happens with spontaneity, which is what make sketching successful too. Lucky you to have such great sessions!


Oh, it sounds like a great time! And you are lucky; I don’t know a single person that likes to sketch or even has the time to dedicate to it. I love the timer idea too. Your sketches turned out wonderfully!


I really like the calla painting. Simple but striking. What a great idea to drift through a house drawing and painting quickly a few things that catch your attention. I’ve gone inside shops with a camera but I get a bit anxious if it’s an antique shop with treasures! What do you really think about bonsai ‘trees’? Sure, they look interesting, but I feel pity that the tree hasn’t been allowed to grow to its potential!


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