Daily Sketching and Inspiration

With sketching everyday, I’m not looking so much for inspiration on what to sketch. Just anything that is in my daily life that catches my eye will do-it’s only a little sketch after all.  But last week was especially challenging because I was sick and didn’t get out much and I so like to sketch outside.

Looking back at some of what I drew, it’s interesting how many things I’m working on and thinking about come together even in the littlest sketch. The photograph I worked from for the sketch below is taken by a friend in Goa, India. It’s the monsoon season in Goa and I very much miss being there, so this Goan house was perfect to draw. besides, I was really inspired to draw a building after watching the first ( just released!) lesson in Liz Steel’s SketchingNow Buildings class. And a lot of the process I used- painting in the sky first as a shape, working on the building as volume before moving to line- are totally inspired by the lesson.
Also in ‘drawn during a sick week’, figures  and flowers, both from magazines. I’ll take drawing form life over a photograph any day, but a photo sketch is better than no sketch!

My daughter working at her homework. Nib pen and watercolor. I’m posting a bunch of in-progress shots this week since some of you asked how I work with watercolor and a nib pen. The bit you can’t see here is that I hold a brush in my left hand, dip it into the color I want in my watercolor palette and brush it onto my dip pen as I go along.pen_ink

The cats. Sleeping.

And a bright hand painted mug with chai.

That’s it for last week in small sketches. Hoping to get out and sketch this week, while it still sunny summer-like weather.


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Impressions of Italy: Bucolic scenes

Some bucolic scenes for a change of pace!

Sketching the Tuscan countryside from the train.. see those round haybales?

And a hillside in a town with thermal springs that I’m totally forgetting the name to…

And my favorite, a sketch from an afternoon drive and picnic that was cut short by the rain. Stormy skies are fun to paint.

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Impressions of Italy: Fountains

If you must actually see the Trevi Fountain, wake up at 6am and walk to it. It’s about the only time you’ll see it in daylight without the crowds.rome_fountain

And when you’re done, go get your morning cappuccino and croissant.

7am, and the crowds are just arriving at the Fontana della Barcaccia (“Fountain of the Worthless Boat” ) by the Spanish Steps.

Sketch that fountain and then it’s time for another coffee. If you’re at Cafe Gilli, they can fancy it up for you with something from the bar.

By sunset, the Fountain of Neptune has it’s share of the crowds, but I join them and sketch a corner of it anyways. It’s hard for even a marble statue to look grand and dignified when there’s a seagull sitting on it’s head.

There’s drinking fountains all over the city and the water is cold, so fill up your water bottles when you pass one.
Last bits of advice, really . Look up. A lot. Besides the domes, the rooftops and chimneys are fascinating. Even just really ordinary ones.




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Why do you sketch everyday?

It’s Monday, time for some little sketches from the week. A fellow artist and friend asked me this week what I hoped to achieve with my everyday sketches.

So many things come to mind. Besides keeping the drawing practice going (every time I break, I find I am very reluctant to come back to making that first mark on paper), and teaching me to use my time more efficiently, little sketches are a great way to explore. New subjects, new mediums, new techniques, new ways to think, see & draw. With zero expectation, and often very little time, I play less safe, which is great. I explore more different mark-making media:  I tend to grab whatever is within reach to draw with. And anything becomes a good subject.

I’m finding that having kids and pets (the kids aren’t new but the pets are) helps. Both make good, if reluctant, drawing subjects.

At breakfast,on a school day morning.kids_school

My daughter just started learning the violin. I can now draw her and her teacher.

I’m trying to draw the new cats. One day I will get the hang of them.

When I can’t think of anything else, I draw fruit. There’s always good fruit in California and there’s tons at home ’cause the kids love it.

Can’t remember why I drew the same pear, from the same angle, in almost the same style three times over…

Two mechanics having a discussion under a car at Alum Rock AutoCare Center. I was walking past, and they looked kinda strange with their heads disappearing into the underside of a car, so I had to stop and draw them.

And finally, one last one from the week. A bottle of olives with pimento. They always remind me of my mom who loves them so much, she could eat a bottle in a sitting. Done entirely in watercolor, drawn with a glass dipping pen and a watercolor wash added on at the end.

Why do you sketch everyday? (Or almost everyday?)

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Impressions of Italy: Pigeons

If you ask my kids what the best thing about Italy was, they’re going to tell you, hands down, it was the pigeons. They fed every pigeon they saw. Everyday. So I hung around and sketched.





And every once in a while, they took a break from pigeon-feeding and made their own pigeon-art.


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Impressions of Italy: Bridges and Canals

Bridges and Canals, from all over Venice. No, I did not like the crowds, but if I got out early enough to sketch, before the crowds came out, or walked away from all the action into the labyrinth of little alleys, I did find some really lovely places to sit and draw.

At the Rialto, where it’s never ever quiet. I talked to a 4th generation gondolier who described a lovely Venice from ages ago, so deserted in the winter months the gondoliers had no work then.


And the Bridge of Sighs, another uber-popular spot in the city.

And two sketches from our front door. It’s convenient when you can sketch right where you are.


And finally, this one from a quiet spot. I love how the gondoliers bend away from and push hard with their single paddle.


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Impressions of Italy: The Crowds!

There was much to love on our travels through Italy this summer. But there was this one bit that, to put it mildly, I did not like. The crowds. And yes, the irony of complaining about crowds of tourists when I was on the totally beaten path, at the height of high season, as a tourist myself? That hasn’t escaped me.

Still, The Crowds! Sometimes the throngs of tourists were more than I could handle. And I gave up on a sketch. This barely-begun sketch of an obelisk just by the Pantheon in Rome? Abandoned. And those crowds I started capturing aren’t even half the people that were squeezed into that space.

Here are sketches made while being jostled by the crowd to view The Birth of Venus and David.

I’m glad I sketch because there’s no way I could handle being in crowds like these if I didn’t. Inside the Pantheon, sitting on the floor.


At Piazza della Sigonoria in Florence amidst a zillion sculptures and tourists.


And outside the Duomo, where tour guides are smart enough to use a variety of flags on poles so they don’t lose their tour group.


In time I figured a plan: I’d get out at 6am to stroll and sketch around the city before it got busy. Those early morning sketch sessions gave me access to a really different view of the city.

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