GUEST DOODLEWASH: On Becoming a Watercolor Sketch Artist

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor Sketch by Dana Richards - #doodlewash

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor Sketch by Dana Richards - #doodlewashHi, I’m Dana Richards, a watercolor artist living in the countryside in Northern California (you can follow my work on my Blog or on Instagram or on Facebook!)

I must start out by thanking Charlie for asking if I’d like to be a Featured Artist on Doodlewash at this precise moment in my artistic life. My art has been evolving in a new direction and Charlie’s request is helping me to clarify it better. I have worked primarily as a studio artist for the last 30 years and had the pleasure of showing and selling my art, but things are changing.

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor Sketch by Dana Richards - #doodlewashFor the past several years, I’ve had the good fortune to live and travel in Italy for a couple of months at a time. The first year, I lugged all my art supplies with me, taking up most of an enormous suitcase… and only managed to find time to paint a half-dozen paintings. We were out exploring constantly and my “studio paintings” take many hours to complete! Clearly I needed to find a way to streamline my supplies and how I paint.

So, now I am learning how to create quick plein air sketches and this is where Doodlewash comes in.

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor Sketch by Dana Richards - #doodlewashI discovered World Watercolor Month July 2016 and was introduced to literally a world of wonderful watercolor artists, many doing the kind of quick sketches I want to do. I’ve been studying their sketches and trying to pick up tips. I LOVE it when people write about their process and their materials!

And, thanks to Doodlewash’s genuine acceptance of everyone’s art, no matter where they are in their creative journey, I feel free to post my efforts – even though some are pretty wonky because I’m trying to draw in ink without resorting to pencil for the sake of speedier drawings.

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor Sketch by Dana Richards - #doodlewashAnd thanks to the Doodlewash Art Supply Reviews by Jessica Seacrest, I’ve put together a great traveling watercolor kit that fits in a small handbag instead of the suitcase I’ve been lugging to Italy each time I went! Now I use a tiny palette in a mint tin, a #4 sable travel brush, an Aurora Fountain Pen, a small reusable towel, 2 tiny water jars and a handy 7-well porcelain mixing dish.

At present I’m having fun exploring questions like: What happens when I limit myself to water soluble ink without any color? (Answer: I love the effect but it’s really hard to keep from adding color – my ongoing love is with watercolors after all.)

Another question is “How about using watercolor directly, with no ink OR pencil? (Answer: This takes a lot more planning time to execute. If I’m short of time, I can add watercolor to a pen & ink sketch at home using a reference photograph.)

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor Sketch by Dana Richards - #doodlewashSo, my next trip to Italy this coming April will be focused on sketching with pen & ink and watercolor. I’ll be taking a light traveling watercolor kit, several sketchbooks (using Jessica Seacrest’s reviews to choose) and plenty of backup tubes of Daniel Smith and Winsor & Newton watercolors so that I can indulge my passion for color. I’ll be sure to keep up with and add #WorldWatercolorGroup to all my posts!

Dana Richards


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  1. Sharon Bonin-Pratt 6 years ago

    Dana, it’s fascinating to read about your transformation as an artist. I like learning how you’ve adapted your newly developing skills and interests with watercolor after a lifetime of being a professional studio artist. Your experimentation with different approaches explains why some methods work better for you than others. Thanks for this very informative post, and especially for showing so many paintings. Your art is very energetic and beautiful. BTW – I feel sorry for that mama woodpecker.

  2. dianegklock 6 years ago

    Love reading this Dana , thanks for sharing . We will look forward to seeing your sketches after your trip . Have fun ,enjoy the process and “keep your brush wet and your sketchbook by your side “

  3. Art-Chap-Enjoin 6 years ago

    Great work – interesting questions you have too…ones I’ve asked myself too.

  4. memadtwo 6 years ago

    I love the depth you achieve in your work. (K)

  5. RebeccaNH 6 years ago

    Greatly enjoy your art and your generous, childlike spirit–you are a light in the art community. It was fun reading about a gallery/studio artist rebooting to sketching. Looking forward to many more posts of your explorations on IG!

  6. Jessica Seacrest 6 years ago

    Your story of finding a new artistic freedom is super inspiring Dana!

  7. Sharon Nolfi 5 years ago

    Nice line work.

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