GUEST DOODLEWASH: Capturing Life

Doodlewashes by Susan Rooney Hanley

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! 

Profile photo of Charlie O'Shields
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!
Published in Featured Artists
28 Comments
  1. kirkistan 2 years ago

    Oh boy. These are, well, wow. Again. I am totally taken with Susan’s desire to capture regular life and I’m going to study her process a bit. I love the people on the stools! And the barn! And all of it!

  2. Kari 2 years ago

    I love the bar scene, especially the portrait painting. It seems such an odd item.. Lovely pieces! Will follow on IG!

  3. Jodi 2 years ago

    Quite amazing!

  4. Karen Lane 2 years ago

    These are so cool!

  5. Teresa Robeson 2 years ago

    Really lovely art! I’m going to be following a million people on Instagram because of you! 😀

    • Author

      Hehe!! Yay! But it might slow down now…not quite getting new ones daily anymore! 😉 So you’re up next right?!

      • Teresa Robeson 2 years ago

        Oh, I am not worthy! 😀

      • Author

        So that’s a yes, right? 😃👍🏻

      • Teresa Robeson 2 years ago

        Well, of course it’s a yes! It is an absolute honor to be featured by you, you know that! xo

      • Author

        Then send me a note via my Let’s Connect link and let’s do it! 😉👍🏻

      • Teresa Robeson 2 years ago

        Okey pokey…I’ll pull up your site and do it in a bit. Have to go make muffins first. 😀

      • Author

        Too bad muffins can’t be sent via email 😥

      • Teresa Robeson 2 years ago

        Not well anyway…LOL! In fact, it’s always best out of the oven, but I refuse to get up at 6:30 to bake muffins for breakfast. 😀 It’s okay the next day and then the flavor declines rapidly after that (but I slather enough butter that it tastes a bit better!). Will reply to your email after giving my kid a haircut!

      • Teresa Robeson 2 years ago

        I just realized the reply may be more involved than I though…LOL! May I take a couple of days or so with answer? 🙂

      • Author

        Haha! You’re so high maintenance!! ❤️❤️😃Of course! LOL

      • Teresa Robeson 2 years ago

        I really am! Or so hubby will have you believe…LOL! Thank you! x

  6. memadtwo 2 years ago

    She has a way with light. It’s beautiful in all of them. (K.)

  7. Sharon Mann 2 years ago

    It’s so much fun to see art from Urban Sketchers from different parts of the country. Susan your art is awesome. Thank you Charlie.

  8. ann christina 2 years ago

    Thanks for this wonderful portrait!!! Love the “Windchant Farm”, it´s seems so cosy somehow, and there´s so much detail!

  9. artandmoondreams 2 years ago

    Beautiful artwork. Love the variety and ‘snapshot’ view of life in her area. Inspiring feature Charlie, thank you for sharing.

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