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Have You Tried Watercolor Sketching?

Watercolor sketching is a way to experience and rapidly capture the world around you in line and color. It helps improve your observation skills and provides the opportunity to exercise your drawing and painting abilities.

watercolor sketch of flowers

Explore the world of watercolor sketching and create breathtaking compositions.

Since watercolor sketching doesn’t require much time or equipment, it’s an easy way to paint outdoors. And what is better than making art sitting in the picturesque place on a fine day?

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Choosing subject

It may be not easy to decide what to sketch, for there are almost always too many options to choose from, but you can always stick to your favorite subject. Think what theme is close to you and pick the right location for sketching. 

Will you take inspiration from Urban Sketchers, a global community of artists who practice drawing buildings, landmarks and people on location in areas they live in or travel to?

Urban sketching

Or maybe you, like me, feel more comfortable on your own, sketching plants and flowers in the serene garden?

Sketching in the garden

More ideas for sketching

It’s not always necessary to go outside. You can sit back in your cozy armchair and sketch something from imagination.

Sketching from imagination

Or use a photograph as a reference.

Sketching from a photo

Spending some time at the farm can be a great opportunity to sketch animals from life. 

Sketching animals from life

You can share your sketches or keep them personal like a diary. Sometimes they bring back memories better than photographs do.

Tools and materials

One of the best things about watercolor sketching is that there are few rules. The materials you use aren’t always important. Honestly, I don’t pay much attention to what paints and brushes I take to my watercolor sketching sessions. I usually grab these:
  • Two or three brushes of various size
  • Watercolor pans set (big or small, depending on the situation)
  • Pencil
  • Eraser
  • Small water container
  • Paper towel

What really matters to me, and what I always select very carefully, is a sketchbook.

Sketchbooks and journals

Personally, I classify all sketchbooks into two categories: ordinary and special. The second group is so much more fun to work with!

The “ordinary” are those made of traditional white paper, designed for drawing or watercolor painting. These sketchbooks come in different weights and various surface textures. Here’s an example of a sketchbook that features heavyweight spiral-bound watercolor paper — a great choice if you plan to remove the page and frame your sketch.

Watercolor sketchbook

Special sketchbooks, in my classification, are those featuring some sort of exotic paper, that may or may not be designed for watercolor painting. Try to search online and you will be amazed at how many remarkable and unique journals are available! Handmade sketchbooks often have deckled edges and warm, rustic feel to them.

For example, this watercolor journal was handmade from 100 percent recycled material in the Punjab region of India. The paper in this journal is rough, heavyweight and beautifully textured. 

Sketchbook with deckle edges

In the picture below, the bottom journal was handcrafted in Nepal from the bark of lokta plant. Even though the paper is thin, spongy and bleeds through, I tried making a sketch using wet-in-wet watercolor technique. Nothing is impossible when it comes to creative process!

The pages of the next journal are inlaid with rose petals and grass, which makes it a piece of art by itself. The little sketchbook at the top features a brown craft paper, which too, like any other paper, can be used for watercolor sketching. It may seem challenging at first, but once you find the right approach to the unusual paper, your efforts will be well paid off by the new expressive possibilities.

Sketchbooks

Wow With Watercolors!

Watercolor for beginners

Learn how to paint your best watercolor works.Get My FREE Guide »

3 Comments

nalini dilip desai

Thanks a lot for putting up such lovely paintings and all the related information and very useful guidance!!!
Watching the beautiful and the excellent works is so very inspirational and makes one feel so very motivated interested in art.

Reply
Mark Field

Greetings Maria. I want to start learning and doing outdoor, location watercolor sketching. Making up my kit and I have a few questions for you if you don’t mind.

Do you sit or stand when you sketch outdoors?

Do you use an easel or board to support your sketch pad?

If you sit do you use s portable campstool or chair?

What do you use to carry water in?

What do you use as a container for water for mixing paint and cleaning brushes?

Do you set those containers on the ground or have them attached to your easel or board (If you use those)?

Thank you.

Regards,

Mark Field
El Paso, Texas USA

Reply

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