Rusted Doorknob by Jay Vance - Doodlewash and watercolor sketch of old door with a rusted knobGreetings from the state of Maine!  I’m Jay Vance, and I live here with my wife on the Atlantic coast (follow me on Instagram!). Maine is a beautiful state with unlimited scenes to interest artists. I live within walking distance of these opportunities: coastal sights such as the Portland Head Light House and fishermen’s shacks and homes reflected on the water; Portland’s architecture with old brick buildings and cobblestone streets; and landscapes which include fields, tumbled-down stone walls, and magnificent forests.

Tree stump by Jay Vance - Doodlewash and watercolor sketch of bark and leavesI came to drawing and painting relatively later in life than many artists who began when they were children.  My training is in teaching.  I have both a B.S. and an M.Ed. from the University of Maine.  After retiring from coaching football, and on a whim, I signed up for a beginner’s watercolor class.  I thought it might be interesting to see how watercolors were used.  It was like magic!  My teacher was so supportive, and I loved creating images. I was hooked!  I took several more classes and began reading every art instruction book I could get my hands on.  Some people who have influenced me are Robert Wade, Claudia Nice, Peter Sheeler, Alphonso Dunn, and Judith Kinsman.

Hay Building by Jay Vance - Doodlewash and watercolor sketch of green and yellow buildingI might confess that the blank page intimidated me for a long time.  I didn’t want to make mistakes.  But my technique continues to evolve, and happy “mistakes” are now part of it.  Reflection is an important part of my learning. When I finish a piece, I usually display it in a place where I can see it throughout the day.  I always find those mistakes and make mental notes.

Cobblestone street by Jay Vance - Doodlewash and watercolor sketch of narrow streetAll of my paintings begin as sketches done in pen and ink.  I prefer .005 and .02 Micron pens but sometimes work with a Lamy Safari fountain pen.  I’m actually using the .02 more than ever because I now feel the .005 line to be rather “timid”. I have used both Winsor & Newton and Daler-Rowney watercolors.  My favorite paper is Arches 140 lbs., cold press watercolor paper.

I have found that my process of sketching with pen and ink first and then applying watercolor washes works well when I am depicting weathered surfaces. Edges and shadows are accomplished by the ink sketch, and color is the final consideration.Houses by Jay Vance - Doodlewash and watercolor sketch of white house with red roof

Sketching with pen and ink on watercolor paper enables me to create textures that I would not be able to create on smoother paper. The texture is created by using the “tooth” of the paper. This technique works well when the subject is especially rough, such as the bark of a tree or shingles and bricks.

Sketching and painting have given me ways of expressing myself that I never had before. I now take the time to actually appreciate the world around me.

Jay Vance

Posted by:Charlie O'Shields (doodlewash)

Creator of Doodlewash® and founder of World Watercolor Month™ (July) and World Watercolor Group™. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world!

55 replies on “GUEST DOODLEWASH: The Beautiful State of Maine

    1. Hi Judith,
      Thank you. Yes, pen and ink with watercolor is a great combination. You can establish your edges and some of your shadows and textures before you get to the watercolor. At that point, you mostly think about color and values.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Nice paintings Jay. Can you tell me what ink you are using? I have a Pilot Metropolitan pen with the Pilot Namiki Black ink. It writes and draws beautifully, but the ink bleeds when I apply watercolor over it. I know there are water resistant fountain pens inks such as Platinum Carbon, but they are very expensive. Thanks

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I use Micron pens when I know I am going to apply watercolor washes. Sometimes, if I feel I will not use watercolor, I use my Lamy Safari with Noodlers Bulletproof black ink.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Jay, the description of where you live and the beauty you capture in you sketches makes me want to visit! It was wonderful to read your story. Thank you for the inspiration!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow this is amazing stuff! I am captivated by your watercolor and sketching skills. Reading your story, we have a lot in common and like a lot of the same tools. And I even live on the Atlantic coast, albeit south of you in NC.😉 Enjoyed your post, and just followed you on Instagram to keep up with your work!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Tonya. We do have a lot in common! Thank you so much for your comments. My wife and I visited NC about 2 months ago. So many sketching opportunities there also.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Very impressive.. especially about using the “tooth” of the watercolor paper, which may add a unique face to your beautiful pen and ink works! I’m glad I can read about you here as a doodlewash family (I was also a guest doodlewasher in April, thanks to Charlie!) and I’m following you already!!😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Naoko! I will look for you on Instagram also. I do enjoy sketching on watercolor paper, but I sometimes use my Moleskine sketchbook if I am not going to add watercolor washes.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Yay, another later in life artist! I love your muted color palette, and that door with the rusty handle is gorgeous! Looking forward to following your work.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Awesome artwork! Your comment about using yhd .005 as being timid speaks volumes to me. I’m quite timid skething in ink. I prefer pencil then outlining in pen. I should change this.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi Rob,
    I have found that going right to the pen forces me to make decisions and stay with them. This “commitment” also implies that I have a fairly clear idea of where I am headed before I start, not to say that I don’t make changes, or adjustments, along the way!
    Thanks for your kind comment.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Loved the article. And also your lighthouse, I just cant stop painting them, I do a view landscapes, and then it starts to come in my mind again, I have to do a lighthouse. One of the nicest lighthouse watercolors is made in Maine to. Its on Ron Ranson’s book about Edgar Whitney. the cover is from Skip Lawrence. A gorgeous watercolor.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear M.l. Kappa
      Thank you so much for your comment.
      Maine has attracted artists for generations.
      Of course, if you visit us, you may well want to come in the summer!!!😊😊❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️

      Liked by 2 people

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