These wonderful doodlewashes come to us from Susan Rooney Hanley who lives north of Chicago, Illinois (follow her on Instagram!). Each of these are from Susan’s Urban sketching endeavors and the titles from top left and moving clockwise are, “Wildwood Water Tower,” “18th Street Bridge, Chicago,” “Windchant Farm,” and “Counter at Comet Cafe, Milwaukee.”
Living north of Chicago, Susan visited the Art Institute of Chicago a lot as a kid. She says, “One of my favorite artists was Toulouse Lautrec. His paintings are like snapshots from his life. They are full of energy, loose and gestural.” She’s recently become involved in Urban Sketchers Chicago. “Urban sketching is more than capturing a landscape. It’s about recording a moment in time as the artist experiences it.”
Susan says, “The sketches are imperfect and can capture the ordinary scenes in life. It’s kind of like keeping a visual journal. Sometimes it’s unpredictable what will catch my eye and make me want to paint a scene. It could be a structure like a barn or water tower or the postures of people hunched at a lunch counter. In one scene it was the red of the bridge.”
She works in a small 6 x 9 Strathmore watercolor sketchbook. By working small, she is able to get the pictures done more quickly and the smaller size is nice and portable. “I always carry a sketchbook and some pens with me just in case I get some time to sketch.”
Susan uses a variety of watercolors, mostly Winsor & Newton and one or two round brushes. “I start with pencil,” she says, “to get the general shapes and proportions. Next I apply washes to block in the sky and ground and maybe a few more shapes. These washes dry pretty quickly and next I start to define the picture with Micron or Copic Multiliner fine tip pens.”
Then she’ll work back and forth with the pen and more watercolor. Both the Microns and Copics are waterproof so it allows you to paint over them without any smudging. Lastly, Susan likes to use the Copic markers and Faber-Castell PITT Artist pens in various shades of gray to deepen the watercolors where she’d like shadows. She says, “They are sheer pens and keep the paint color, but just deepen it. I really love white pens for highlights. My favorites are white gel pens and PITT pens in white.”
Thanks so much for sharing your fantastic doodlewashes with us Susan! It’s wonderful to see the world through your eyes. And be sure to follow Susan on Instagram for more of her beautiful art!