GUEST DOODLEWASH: Celebrating Life

Today’s wonderful doodlewashes come to us from Barbara Nigg, who lives just outside of Zurich, Switzerland (follow her on Instagram!). Originally from Canada, she met her husband will studying in Calgary and has been in Switzerland for the past 20 years.

Barbara says, “I got started when some kind adult in my life popped a crayon in my pudgy little two-year-old hand and although at first, I ate more crayons than I probably should have, I have never stopped drawing.”

Growing up in northern British Columbia, a sense of wonder for the wild things growing just beyond the picket fence fueled her imagination and filled her sketch pads with animals, mythical creatures from the rain forest and even a few dinosaurs. “I still love to draw dinosaurs and take great pride in the few paleontologists (two) following my Instagram.” 

“There is nothing I find more inspiring than being outside and drawing from life,” she says. “Paying attention by drawing what I see is like a form of prayer, adding clarity and richness to my life through a more intimate connection to the spaces around me and I love it.”

“No matter where I am, I feel most at home when I can draw, sketch or doodle – so I sketch when I travel, and travel to sketch. My travel sketches evoke a sense of reverie that a quick photo just cannot match. Living as an expat in a foreign country, drawing has been both a life saver and a great way to connect with the locals.”

Barbara is always experimenting with new media and her studio is inside her sketchbooks. She prefers Moleskine watercolor books for messing about with a lot of water but says you can’t beat the smooth paper of a Leuchtturm1917 for pen sketches. 

“I love mixing things up,” she says. “Graphite and pastel with watercolor, vibrant ink with pencil crayon and dip pens are the best as they are so hard to control. The drawings that I like the most are usually the ones I couldn’t control – a bit quirky and funny – thanks to a temperamental dip pen and waterproof drawing ink.”

“Right now I am into gouache – the dressed-down cousin of watercolor – because I like its opacity, the intensity and flexibility of the colors – vibrant and graphic. They remind me of the paints I had as a kid. Still nothing beats the fine line of a Platinum Carbon fountain pen and Daniel Smith or Schmincke watercolor in my sketchbook.” 

Doodlewash by Barbara NiggBarbara prefers working in sketchbooks because the stories that develop as the book fills with sketches fascinates her. “The sketchbook is a world of its own where anything can happen – a laboratory to try ideas, make mistakes and watch the drawings unfold and interact from one page to the next. Adding text is the icing on the cake – especially when something poetic pops onto the page.”

The drawings are important to her, but the process of drawing and how it makes her feel is what she really loves. Her aim is to be prolific, to travel and create a ton of drawings and so she has a satchel with a sketchbook, pens, pencils and watercolor packed and ready to go everywhere with her.

“I also have a mini sketch kit packed in a zip lock bag stashed in the car,” she says. “Just in case I don’t have my bag with me. Any downtime is a sketch opportunity. I also have my stuff on our dining room table so that even if all I have is 10 minutes, I can jump in and out of a drawing. Joining sketchcrawls is my latest passion as sketching with a mix of people is a lot of fun and inspiration, especially in Zurich – it’s a great way for locals and expats to explore the city together.” 

She is also a student of Sketchbook Skool and Craftsy and loves learning from so many different artists and classmates from all over the world. “Thanks so much Charlie! The community you build with your sketching is fantastic.” Thank you, Barbara, for sharing your story and your fantastic sketches with all of us doodlewashers! We’ll be following you on Instagram to see what you’ll create next! 

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!
28 Comments
  1. Teresa Robeson 2 years ago

    Barbara does such vibrant doodlewashes! It’s funny but for the 6 years that my older son was obsessed with dinosaurs, I never thought to sketch them (probably because I had another toddler in tow and I was lucky to be awake, let alone do anything else 😉 ). Delighted to see another fellow Canadian featured here!

    • Author

      So happy you liked this feature, Teresa! ❤️😃Hehe…that’s funny, Philippe still loves dinosaurs and neither of us have thought to sketch one! 😊

  2. Sand Salt Moon 2 years ago

    Developing stories – how amazing. Your profiles on watercolorists are always inspiring and interesting. Loving Barbara and her work!

  3. Sand Salt Moon 2 years ago

    PS Great idea for the sketch-pad-in-ziplock-in-the-car!

  4. itsmyhusbandandme 2 years ago

    I really like her style.
    Jean-Paul

  5. kirkistan 2 years ago

    Well, that was inspiring. I marked this to read later tonight, but I couldn’t help myself. Charlie, thanks for the quotes and all the specifics. Now I’m lusting for a LEUCHTTURM1917 notebook Oy.I resonate with Babara’s fascination with capturing daily life and I love her sketches. Her though about letting things develop in a journal has really got me thinking. I may invest in something like that. Great article! Great work Barbara!

    • Author

      Awesome Kirk!! I’m so glad you liked it!!! And yeah… I learn about these cool tools and link to them and always want them! It’s a wonder I’m not broke! But so cool you’re inspired…can’t wait to see what’s next now! 😉

  6. Jodi 2 years ago

    more good stuff – YAY! TY C.O.! 🙂

  7. thepaperbaker 2 years ago

    Love the door! Fabulous doodlewashes!!

  8. Kari 2 years ago

    I can totally relate to capturing daily life in your journal! 😊 I’ve never tried gouache so I’m eager to try. Will look for her on IG!

  9. Akire Bubar 2 years ago

    Great post, and beautiful art! And l also love what she said about sketchbooks – they’re a journal of sorts.

    • Author

      Yeah, they totally are! I never write in them because I hate my handwriting, but Barbara is inspiring me to try!! 😊hehe

  10. memadtwo 2 years ago

    She has a lovely free and delicate hand to her lines. Lots of life. (K)

  11. artandmoondreams 2 years ago

    Beautiful paintings and wonderful feature. Love how her sketchbook is not only her studio but also helps her feel at ‘home’ no matter where she is. So much of this is inspiring and motivating…thank you for sharing.

  12. amaryllislog 2 years ago

    What a great post, I love Barbara’s work and “how it makes her feel”!

  13. Sharon Mann 2 years ago

    Thank you for sharing your creative life and beautiful art Barbara. Thank you Charlie.

  14. I love Barbara’s style!

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