GUEST DOODLEWASH: Inside The Pages Of A Sketchbook

Doodlewash and watercolor sketch by E. O. Brown of roosters

I’m Erin O’Leary Brown (also known as E.O.Brown, follow me on Instagram, Pinterest or check out my website!). I live in upstate New York with my husband and our two children. I’ve loved making art ever since I was a little kid, and I’ve made it part of my life in different ways. I studied illustration at Syracuse University, and have worked doing illustration, art commissions, and teaching high school art. I also discovered ceramic sculpture while working on my masters in education. When life became busier with other obligations, making artwork was pushed lower on my priority list, and I began to realize how much it mattered.

Doodlewash and watercolor sketch by E. O. Brown of duckI needed to find at least a little time to draw to keep my sanity! So I downsized my sketchbook to a tiny pocket size (which was easy because I’ve always worked very small), and took opportunities to draw whenever I could find them. Drawing scattered toys on the floor while holding a sleeping toddler in my lap or sketching unsuspecting classmates while sitting through a three hour class on educational research… anything to get in some drawing time. Sketching was a great way to find balance in my life, and keep my art going when I couldn’t focus on it full-time.

Doodlewash and watercolor sketch by E. O. Brown of crab clawsDrawing in a sketchbook has always been my favorite way to work. When I’m filling the pages of a sketchbook, it’s something just for me and that’s very liberating. It’s a place to discover things, practice without pressure, and record ideas and experiences. Keeping a sketchbook has also helped bring more life and spontaneity to my illustrations and paintings. I think my work suffers when there are too many layers of planning, sketches, and revisions, so I try to approach all my work as if it is just a sketchbook page, whether it stays in a book or hangs on a wall.

My process of working varies. Sometimes I like to work directly in pen to force myself to commit to all the marks I make, other times I lay out the largest, general shapes in pencil and then do an ink drawing over that rough plan. (Occasionally I work in pencil or black colored pencil, but I usually prefer ink.) After that, I add color with washes of watercolor and sometimes gouache. I find it helpful to work both from life and from photos. I love the experience and challenge of drawing from life, and I think it is important in developing observational skills.

Doodlewash and watercolor sketch by E. O. Brown of Ralph Waldo Emerson 1803-1882I like photos for the convenience and access to different subject matter. I choose subject matter that catches my attention with interesting shapes or color combinations. Some of my favorite things to draw are animals, people, various objects (especially from nature), and food (I just love the colors and shapes found in food!) I really enjoy drawing people from history…scientists, composers, authors…they always seem to have interesting faces. In the end, as long as I’m drawing something, I’m pretty happy regardless of the subject!

When it comes to materials, I have to admit to having a pen addiction. (My biggest problem is finding a case big enough to put them in that is still portable!) I like the line quality of a lot of scrapbooking pens (the ones with finer pen on one side and a thicker brush/marker on the other…the Zig Memory Pen, Marvy/Uchida LePlume pen etc). Other pens I like to use are Pigma Microns, Faber-Castell PITT artist pens, the Pentel Brush pen (beautiful range of mark making!), Rapidograph (or Rapidosketch) pens for a nice consistent line, and my favorite ballpoints are Parker pens.

Doodlewash and watercolor sketch by E. O. Brown of red peppersFor my paint, I have a Winsor & Newton watercolor palette that I took all the half pans out of and filled with my own choices of tube paint. I have specific colors (from varying companies) that I’ve used for years, but basically I use a couple reds, yellows, and blues (each in a warm and cool shade), a viridian green, and lately I’ve been using a yellow ochre color more. I don’t use black–I like the effect of mixing my own. I use both sable and sythetic brushes (particularly Da Vinci Kolinsky brushes and Escoda Prado synthetic brushes…sizes 1, 3, and 6 cover most of my needs).

I also love the Niji Waterbrushes for their portability and different effects you can get with them. It’s so wonderful someone invented those! I haven’t found a hardbound sketchbook with a paper and size that I’m completely happy with, so I take old books that I like, remove the pages, and use the old covers to bind my own sketchbooks. I keep one sketchbook with smoother paper (currently using Canson XL Mix Media paper) and one with a cold press watercolor paper (Fabriano Artistico 90 lb). For art that is not in my sketchbook, I usually prefer Fabriano Artistico Extra White 140 lb cold press watercolor paper. I find the watercolors are vivid on it, and the surface is not too rough for line work.

Doodlewash and watercolor sketch by E. O. Brown of old buildings

I feel very lucky to have a passion for drawing and painting. No matter how I fit it into my life, art is something that always adds quality to my life experiences. And of all the art I’ve made, I know I’ll look back and open up my sketchbooks and they will still be my favorite work, full of exploration, experimentation, and memories.

Erin O’Leary Brown
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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
48 Comments
  1. Sharon Bonin-Pratt 1 year ago

    Your work is fantastic, E.O. So expressive and so much variety in style and subject. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the back of row of shabby buildings look so beautiful. It’s very impressive that you make your own sketch books, binding your favorite paper.
    Thanks, Charlie, for featuring E.O.Brown. She has such talent.

  2. Teri C 1 year ago

    Love your art! It’s so ‘real’.

  3. Susan Feniak 1 year ago

    I very much enjoyed seeing and reading about your art Erin! A new follower on Instagram! Thank you for sharing Erin’s art Charlie.

  4. Erin O'Leary Brown 1 year ago

    Thank you for the follow, Susan!

  5. Jodi 1 year ago

    Beautiful artwork Erin!

  6. Erin O'Leary Brown 1 year ago

    Thanks so much, Jodi!

  7. Catherine Johnson 1 year ago

    What a lovely post and beautiful artwork!

  8. Erin O'Leary Brown 1 year ago

    Thank you, Catherine!

  9. zuzala 1 year ago

    great illustrative line. thanx

    • Erin O'Leary Brown 1 year ago

      Thanks for the comment, Zuzala! I’m glad my work comes across with an illustrative quality!

  10. GeorgieMoon 1 year ago

    I’ve just taking up drawing and sketching again, and I found your lovely blog. My blog is really about our travels on our yacht, but maybe I’ll post a few sketches now and then….

    • Author

      You should definitely take up drawing and sketching again, Georgina! So pleased you like Doodlewash! And so glad Erin’s post was inspiring!

    • Erin O'Leary Brown 1 year ago

      I love all the beautiful photos on your blog, Georgina! And it seems like sketching would be the perfect thing to incorporate into your travels and your blog!

      • GeorgieMoon 1 year ago

        Thank you very much for looking and for,your kind comments. Yes, I love taking photos, I think I have a good ‘eye’ but don’t know everything about the technical stuff. I had my pencils and a drawing pad out this afternoon!

    • M. L. Kappa 1 year ago

      Yes! You must!

  11. M. L. Kappa 1 year ago

    Lovely, lovely work, Erin! I absolutely adore those chickens! Will follow. Marina

  12. M. L. Kappa 1 year ago

    And thanks, Charlie, for introducing Erin

  13. Damita 1 year ago

    Your work is lovely. Very nice.

  14. memadtwo 1 year ago

    Beautiful work, and lots of good information too! Thanks! (K)

  15. Teresa Robeson 1 year ago

    Chickens and food and buildings are some of my favorites objects in art! I must follow Erin on IG. I love her beautiful pen + watercolor style!

    • Erin O'Leary Brown 1 year ago

      Thanks Teresa! Fun stuff to draw, right? And thank you for the follow! I loved all your animal sketches too!

  16. IsyLLiS 1 year ago

    Gorgeous artworks here! Love the colours and the doodles too!

  17. Erin O'Leary Brown 1 year ago

    Thanks so much Isyllis! So glad you liked it!

  18. Just followed you on Instagram. Love love love your sketches. Excellent guest post!

  19. KB Garst 1 year ago

    Wow! It’s all great but I really love the roosters and chickens!

  20. Erin O'Leary Brown 1 year ago

    Thanks KB! So glad you liked them!

  21. Beautiful work, Erin. Congrats!

  22. Cathe 1 year ago

    Wow, Erin, you work is fantastic! I love your details, your observations are wonderful. Your color palette really draws me in. Thank you so much for sharing your work, I’m so inspired. I had quite an enjoyable time looking at your website. Your talent is so rich!

  23. Erin O'Leary Brown 1 year ago

    Thank you, Cathe! I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

  24. Great guest. I love do much this accurate style.

  25. artandmoondreams 1 year ago

    Beautiful paintings and sketches, love the idea of using old books as binders for home made sketchbooks…just brilliant. Wonderfully inspiring guest post, thank you for sharing.

  26. Erin O'Leary Brown 1 year ago

    So glad you liked it, Artandmoondreams! I enjoyed your fluid, delicate line drawings on your blog–reminds me so much of Alphonse Mucha!

  27. […] via GUEST DOODLEWASH: Inside The Pages Of A Sketchbook — Doodlewash […]

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