GUEST DOODLEWASH: From Cubes to Sketching Life

Watercolor Paintings by Larry Marshall

Today’s doodlewashes come to us from Larry Marshall, a retired research scientist from Quebec City, Quebec. Although he grew up in Arizona, he’s been living in Canada for the past few decades.

In his words:

Four years ago I read Danny Gregory’s Everyday Matters and Creative License books.  He convinced me that ‘talent’ had little to do with art, not was the product important. He indicated that it was the process of doing art and how this changed ones view of the world that mattered.

So I decided to give it a try.  I started drawing cubes.  I figured that lots of things fit into cubes so if I could draw one, I might have a chance to draw a lot of things.  After drawing just shy of a gazillion of them, I finally felt I could draw cubes in any orientation and so I expanded my horizons.

Doodlewash by Larry MarshallThose early days were the hardest as I was alone in the venture and with little to share with the world.  But I discovered Urban Sketchers and the idea of sketching on the street.  I started walking Quebec City, drawing simple things I found along the way.  It was like a treasure hunt and I couldn’t get enough of it.  In hindsight, Gregory was right on all counts and urban sketching has connected me to a world of fellow sketchers.

I rarely draw at home, except for constant doodling while I watch TV. So my approach requires that I carry all of my supplies.  Thus, I generally work in smallish sketchbooks.  My preference is for Stillman & Birn Alpha or Beta series sketchbooks.  I’ve tried a lot of sketchbooks and S&B quality is hard to beat.  Sometimes, though, I’ll draw on single sheets and there I generally use Fabriano or Canson watercolor paper.

Artists do love their toys and I’m no exception.  I have more pointy devices that make marks than any human needs.  I generally use one of my many fountain pens as my principle drawing tool.  My favorite is a Namiki Falcon that I feed with De Atramentis Document Black ink.  I do occasionally use a mechanical pencil for blocking out a sketch but the actual drawing is always done in pen.

I use Daniel Smith watercolors outdoors and Faber-Castell Albrecht-Durer watercolor pencils during winter museum sessions.  I’m not much of a watercolorist, however, as I’m very line-obsessed and when the lines are done, I feel that I’m done.  It’s something I’m working on right now.

At this point I’ll draw anything, though like most artists, all I can ever see are my faults.  My favorite subjects are architectural but I do draw planes, trains and automobiles.  In museums I draw whatever is before me as museums, with the myriad of shapes they present, are where I learn the most, even if the subjects are not what I prefer.  I have a soft spot for the mundane, particularly fire hydrants, garbage cans, and lampposts.  Anyone can make the Taj Mahal look good, right?

Doodlewash by Larry MarshallI do a lot of quick-sketching of people, in coffee shops, on the street, in the doctor’s office – anywhere, but I have to confess that drawing people is my least favorite thing to do.  Given what I see of other artists, I must have missed the line for that gene when they were handing them out.

I’ve been told that telling an artist they’re “so talented” isn’t the compliment it’s meant to be.  I never understood it until it happened to me and I confess to having cringed a bit the first time I heard it. After four years, I have 46 sketchbooks full of drawings that mark the slow plodding steps that moved me from not being able to draw cubes to being able to draw the way I do now.  Maybe, by the time I do another 100 sketchbooks, I’ll will be on the verge figuring out “art.”  Clearly, the only “talent” I have is persistence.

(Follow him on Instagram and be sure to visit his website for more!)

Recommend0 recommendationsPublished in Featured Artists
  1. kirkistan 7 years ago

    Charlie–thanks for this, This is inspirational to me. Larry, I love your work and just started following you on Instagram and immediately looked up all your tools. I’m considering sketching just in a journal next and I like what you had to say about teh Stillmand & Birn sketchbooks. Terrific! I find myself sketch constantly as well.

  2. Jessica 7 years ago

    I was just reading Larry’s blog yesterday! And I’ve read it in the past. I enjoy his art journal/sketch book reviews. I’m a big S&B fan too, currently the Alpha is my favorite. I like Larry’s story, I find it encouraging. Thanks for putting it all out there Larry!

  3. Sand Salt Moon 7 years ago

    What a great array of subjects and done in a very wonderfully engaging style.

  4. Jodi 7 years ago

    Thanks for sharing another great talent!

  5. Kari 7 years ago

    Hello from your former home state! And I’m a former scientist too. What a great story! I am thinking about getting a few S&B sketchbooks as so many of my friends are using them. Will be following on IG!!

    • Author

      Yay! I think I’m going to break your IG account with all these people I get you to follow, Kari! Lol love it! 💕😃

  6. Jill Kuhn 7 years ago

    I agree with Larry, persistence does pay off! 😊 Great post Charlie! Thanks for sharing Larry’s art journey with us! 🎨

  7. Wow, maybe it need to draw a gazillion cubes. Is this the way to master perspective like this man?? If so, I guess that’s what I’ll start doing. I guess dice works huh? Great feature, Charlie. 💛

    • Author

      Hehe…I was wondering the same thing when I first read this. Hmmm…it definitely paid off for him! 😉👍🏻

      • It really did. Perspective eludes me still. I’ve been drawing for a year now…..not every day, I didn’t start that til May or June but still. Why is it so hard? You don’t struggle with it, do you, Charlie? Your buildings are beautiful. Can’t do it without a good grasp of perspective.

        • Author

          I sort of struggled at first, but then I still remember Philippe saying “just draw what you see”…I stopped worrying whether perspective was even happening and just looked at the contours and spaces, angles and distances between things. Not what I thought they should be, but what they were. And forgot I was drawing a building and focused on the shapes instead. It seemed to work for me!

          • That’s a really good point but I’ve tried with books on a table and if they’re anywhere near my eye level, I’ve not been able to get those angles right. I think I may take a picture and then print it on copy paper and trace the angles in marker or something so it’s really clear how they should appear. I just never take the time to do that lol.

          • Author

            Yes! DO it! Hehe… I also try to exaggerate perspective a lot and am always surprised at how much more accurately it looks!

  8. artandmoondreams 7 years ago

    Beautiful artwork, love the lines and detail. Great feature, very inspiring and encouraging. Appreciated the links on materials/tools used, was curious what sort of nib Larry uses on his Falcon. As usual, fantastic post, thank you Charlie for sharing such great art.

    • Author

      I’m not sure on the nib…hopefully he’ll catch this and respond. Or you could ask on his website I’m sure! So glad you liked the feature, Haunani! 😃

  9. Sharon Mann 7 years ago

    Larry, I really like your subject matter and sketching style. Keep filling up those sketchbooks, it’s the practice, right! Thank you Charlie.

  10. memadtwo 7 years ago

    Love that car! And how come no one parks one of those in front of my building? (K)

  11. Cathe 7 years ago

    I’m a big Larry fan. I have been following him on IG for some time and really appreciate his approach to sketching. I really like that he knows what he enjoys sketching and keeps at it. And like so many of us I’m also a Stillman & Birn fan. I use the Beta series, it holds up to my abuse and the paper is a nice crisp white so colors really pop. Super love for Larry and his art, good stuff!

    • Author

      Yay!! So happy to hear you’re already a fan. Larry is awesome! I haven’t tried Stillman & Birn yet, but currently loving my Pentalic!

  12. […] into the paint of the post, I want to share something that I was inspired by- Guest Doodlewasher Larry Marshall posted on his blog on September 26, 2016 that he has been sketching now for five years.  High […]

  13. […] is a popular paint among guest Doodlewashers, check out Carol Hartman, Larry Marshall, and Cathe […]

  14. […] Doodlewasher Larry Marshal uses S&B. His review of these journals is great. Initially, I emailed S&B and asked if […]

  15. […] into the paint of the post, I want to share something that I was inspired by- Guest Doodlewasher Larry Marshall posted on his blog on September 26, 2016 that he has been sketching now for five years.  High […]

  16. […] is a popular paint among guest Doodlewashers, check out Carol Hartman, Larry Marshall, and Cathe […]

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