My name is Ruchika Juneja. I love travel sketching and have been doing it for quite some time now. Whenever I travel, creating what I see in my notebook gives me a sense of accomplishment. I could re-live that moment whenever I want and a sense of emotion gets attached to that.
I started my journey in art three years back in India. I started with sketching with black pen and couldn’t sketch that good. I was told by my aunt, who is an artist, to always keep a pen and a notebook with me. And make a habit of capturing my experiences with pen and paper.
Initially, I found it tough and boring. It was very difficult to capture what I see. The question was always “where do I start?” My initial scribblings looked rough but over time it improved. I could see how I was able to capture the emotion and energy implicitly of the object or scene. The key was to observe.
At this point, I was still scared to touch watercolors. I had a little experience in acrylics, but I had never explored them in detail. I guess I was overwhelmed with so many options and concepts; I was scared to start lest it might hinder my creative process. Pencils or pens were simpler.
I took a leap of faith, a year into my sketching; I bought a set of 24 colors and started using them in my travel sketches. Colors put life and soul in sketches. The more sketches I made with watercolors, the more I was drawn towards them.
Their transparency and vibrancy used to entice me. It pushed me to understand the concepts of primary colors and complementary colors. I continued using the 24-color set and exploring the concepts of sketching.
Some things that I found were:
Always look for bigger shapes, then seeing the intricacies
Try to focus on where the light is coming from on the object
Mark the shadows as that gives a form to the sketch
Look more on the object than on the sketchbook
Always make a 5min small-study sketch before you hop on to create the actual drawing
Watercolors were still a big challenge for me and somewhere in my head I wanted to conquer it. I started with taking a basic course on Craftsy and got the hang of limited pallet, which I still work with. As sketching was now not an issue, I started focusing on getting the concepts of watercolor right. I mostly used to paint very tightly, using the layering technique. I created many pieces using the same technique and copied many scenes from photos.
The learnings here were:
Use a limited pallet in the start than exposing yourself to unlimited amount of colors and shades ( I work with French ultramarine, pthalo blue, permanent alizarin crimson, pyroll scarlet, indian yellow and lemon yellow, burnt sienna)
Try to play with water colors and let it take its course
Use good quality colors, paper and brushes to get the desired results (I recommend Daniel Smith extra fine watercolors)
Always make a black and white study sketch to mark the lights and darks of the sketch
Make a color chart for that specific sketch to understand the types of mixes you have to use in the sketch
It has been just a year and a half of my journey with watercolors; they taught me to let go, to be more patient, to expect the unexpected and move on. Every time I worked on a piece, I discover something new and miraculous.
I have worked in acrylics before and I am going to Angel Art Academy, Florence next year to study painting in oils. But watercolors will always be close to my heart and I will continue to explore and experiment with them.
Creator of Doodlewash®, founder of World Watercolor Month (July), World Watercolor Group™, and host of the Sketching Stuff Podcast. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!