GUEST ARTIST: “Traveling With My Sketchbook And Watercolor” by Erwin Lian

Watercolor Sketch by Erwin Lian - Doodlewash - Urban Sketchers

My name is Erwin and I am from Singapore.  My art journey started in 2001 when I enrolled as a full-time student at the Columbus College of Art and Design. Though I went through a rigorous foundation program in traditional medium, I stop practicing traditional medium until 2013, when I began traveling.

Watercolor Sketch by Erwin Lian - Doodlewash - Urban Sketchers

I travel to distance myself from the anxieties of my own familiar landscape, and new surroundings and cultures allow me to lose myself and to be immersed in the moment.

I usually don’t plan too much and will just pick places that I can afford. When there’s a tairfare sale to some destination that I haven’t been, I will assess my budget and try to make it happen whenever possible. Over time, the sketchbooks, sketching and painting slowly seeped into my travels and became my companion.

Instead of focusing on making differentiated work or be consumed by the ambition of a professional artist, I found joy in making small studies during my travels. Often, I will just pack a tiny sketchbook, a fountain pen, a few broken brushes, a clutch pencil and a tiny watercolor box and off I would go.

Sketching and Painting Supplies of Erwin Lian - Doodlewash - Urban Sketchers

Ideally, an oil easel, more equipment, and bigger canvases will be great. However, over time, I realized that greater ambition doesn’t necessarily yield better work or satisfaction.

Watercolor Sketch by Erwin Lian - Doodlewash - Urban Sketchers

Occasionally, I will translate these small studies into bigger work for shows and etc. However, making a living off painting is something I have yet been able to achieve and that remained a puzzle that I been trying to solve.

Watercolor Sketch by Erwin Lian - Doodlewash - Urban Sketchers

One of the reasons why I like watercolor is the convenience factor. It’s fuss-free, extremely portable and I am able to complete on-site studies very quickly. If its ink studies, I can suggest colors by layering them with thin washes.

Watercolor Sketch by Erwin Lian - Doodlewash - Urban Sketchers

When I have more time, I can invest in more elaborated watercolor studies. My travel sketches usually take between 15 minutes to 2 hours.

Watercolor Sketch by Erwin Lian - Doodlewash - Urban Sketchers

My journey with watercolor and sketching has also inspired me to produce my own sketchbook, ‘The Perfect Sketchbook’.  Over the span of 4 years, we raised more than $150,000 on crowdfunding platforms and produced three over-the-top 100% cotton-paper sketchbooks that were shipped to thousands of backers from more than 40 different countries.

The Perfect Sketchbook - Erwin Lian - Doodlewash - Urban Sketchers

Aspired to synthesize my love for sketching, traveling and art education into a business, I also started Sketch Bhutan and would bring participants to the Kingdom of Bhutan once every year.

Sketch Butan - Erwin Lian

Sketch Bhutan is one of these initiatives where I bring tourists to Bhutan to not only sketch and tour but also for creating meaningful interactions and exchanges with Bhutanese artists. This year, it will happen from June 16 until June 20 and registration is still open. You can also read more about Sketch Bhutan via this article I wrote on Parka’s blog.

Watercolor Sketch by Erwin Lian - Doodlewash - Urban Sketchers

Moving forward, I hope to eventually fulfill my dream of traveling and painting the American landscapes. When I was in college, I dreamt about that but never had the resources or opportunity.

Watercolor Sketch by Erwin Lian - Doodlewash - Urban Sketchers

The idea of buying a used RV and converting it into a liveable painting mobile that can traverse across the vast American landscape is so appealing to me. Unfortunately, that option is unavailable to me since I can’t get insurance coverage as a foreigner.

Currently, I am exploring other options like the Amtrak or a bicycle and may embark on this new adventure in July. The idea of a bicycle tour is exciting and I have experimented with traveling, cycling and sketching when I was in South Korea. The drawback of a bicycle tour is that it can be physically demanding and there would be less time for sketching and painting.

Watercolor Painting by Erwin Lian - Doodlewash - Urban Sketchers

Though I am not exactly sure how or where I will be painting next, you can definitely follow me on Instagram to stay up to date to my adventure and the links below.

Erwin Lian

Instagram
Website
Facebook
YouTube
Sketch Bhutan

Recommended6 recommendationsPublished in Featured Artists

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! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!

12 Comments
  1. John 5 months ago

    Wow, beautiful sketches – really stunning – Many thanks for sharing Erwin and, as ever, thanks Charlie for the introduction – really inspiring!

  2. rubiescorner 5 months ago

    I love your art. Pictures are worth a, thousand, words apiece.

  3. Sandra Strait 5 months ago

    Your work is amazing. It’s always inspiring to see how others capture the moment during their travels. Thank you for sharing your art and your love of travel with us.

  4. Jeanne McBrayer 5 months ago

    Very nice work! I hope you get to travel America for a sketching adventure soon.

  5. Pamela Smith 5 months ago

    Beautiful art…your story is very inspiring,,I hope that your dream to travel and sketch America becomes a reality,,,such a wonderful dream…

  6. Nancy Jackson 5 months ago

    Erwin, I love all that I saw, but the cat was my favorite. So much to paint in America, hope you make it here. ☺

  7. Sharon Nolfi 5 months ago

    Your paintings are lovely. Yes, come to the USA – we have an amazing variety of landscapes to paint.

  8. nickyab 5 months ago

    Really love your style!

  9. weisserwatercolours 5 months ago

    There’s such freshness and delight glowing through your veils of wash. What a treasure you are leaving behind you as you paint the world.

  10. Sharon Bonin-Pratt 5 months ago

    Erwin, your art is beautiful and inspiring. I’m impressed with how much detail you capture in your sketchbooks, how much control you master with the washes. The painting of the cat is quite extraordinary – the shadows, the fur, the texture of the leaves, and the glaze of sunlight – lovely.

  11. Janneke Booister 5 months ago

    Thank you for your story and art. I enjoyed both.
    There is so much beauty in the world and you can show it in a great way! 🙂

  12. Beverly Dyer 5 months ago

    Oh it would be fabulous to travel across America in an “art bus.” Lovely sketches!

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