GUEST ARTIST: On Spontaneity, Improvement, and Happiness

Doodlewash and Urban Sketch by Sanjukta Sen of house next to water with bridge

Hi! I’m Sanjukta Sen, and I’m from all over the place (India, Singapore, Germany!) but I’m currently finishing a degree in Politics from the University of Cambridge. I started sketching exactly a year ago as a way to keep stress-free during exam term, and set up my Instagram art blog to keep track of my progress.

Doodlewash and Urban Sketch by Sanjukta Sen of Emerald Hill Panorama

I was always into art as a kid, but I never really got into it until my mother bought me my first sketchbook and brush pen in April 2014 and I’ve never looked back since. She has been my mentor throughout – she is an artist and has taught me most of what I know. The other few bits of knowledge I have picked up has been from following the hundreds of talented artists online on Instagram!

Doodlewash and Urban Sketch by Sanjukta Sen of M and S CafeI make it a point to sketch something everyday or every few days, because I have realized that perseverance is key in this field. Most of my sketches turn out very averagely, but the trick is to keep going. I pick up a pen and sketchbook and sketch absolutely anything that is in front of me, and if I have time I give it a quick watercolor wash. I am a fan of spontaneity, and so I never sketch in pencil – I always go straight to ink.

Every time I mess up this way becomes a learning experience. Other than keeping an “everyday sketchbook”, I very often (less so during exam time though) arm myself with loose pieces of watercolor paper and go urban sketching out on the streets. I take a little stool with me and spend hours sketching on location perched on the side of the road. One of my favorite parts about this process is people stopping to chat about my art, and picking up little tidbits of information about their lives.

Doodlewash and Urban Sketch by Sanjukta Sen of Chinatown London LQP

Doodlewash and Urban Sketch by Sanjukta Sen of Regent Streer ChurchOne nice man told me that his father, back in the 60s, had sketched every landmark in Cambridge. Another told me that watercolors confused him because he could never keep them clean in his palette but he loved it anyway. My favorite part, however, has to be when parents point me out to their little kids to distract them from crying about something or the other. It always works! I love meeting and talking to new people, and this is one of the best perks of urban sketching. 

I swear by my Lamy pens and nibs (I have an Al-Star and a Joy), and I use a simple cotman half pans because I don’t do anything too fancy. I am not a traditional or proper watercolorist – I mostly work with inks and washes but I feel like that is what brings me closer to the fresh and spontaneous feeling that I aim for. I am very inspired by my favorite illustrators – Sir Quentin Blake, Felix Scheinberger, and Don Low – and often reflect on their works when I hit a creative block (which is more often than I care to admit!).

Doodlewash and Urban Sketch by Sanjukta Sen of churchAnother thing that I like to do when faced with a block is go through old sketchbooks – it is such a good feeling to see how your sketches improve and change in style over the months, and it often gets me thinking about what I can improve on or try out when I decide to start sketching again. Going to events like life drawing sessions is a good way to get back into the creative zone as well – my mother recently forced me to try out one and I have been absolutely hooked ever since. Not only is it so therapeutic, but it also improves your line work by leaps and bounds! 

I started sketching as a way to teach myself something new, be productive with my free time during exams, and de-stress myself. It has turned into something much bigger than that, and has helped me venture into other fields of design and illustration for university newspapers and college events and magazines. I see Quentin Blake‘s work and the impact it has had on so many people’s happiness, and I am imbued with a want to make people happy through my art.

Doodlewash and Urban Sketch by Sanjukta Sen of Downing CollegePeople messaging me to tell me that they liked my work is really rewarding, but the biggest compliment is still when my mother texts me in reply to a sketch that I have whatsapped to her – “Good job, I like the improvement”. This is the first step in what I hope will be a long and happiness-inducing journey. 

Sanjukta Sen
Instagram

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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!

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277 Comments
  1. amazingmoi96 1 year ago

    I wanna try that when i have free time, but then I remember drawing doesn’t like me

    • attjj 1 year ago

      Don’t worry try your hardest and if that doesn’t work maybe drawing I sent the right thing

    • Sanjukta Sen 1 year ago

      Im sure that’s not true! Just give it a go 🙂

      • amazingmoi96 1 year ago

        Haha lets see, when i have free time to draw, im gonna post it here. And you’ll be the judge😉

  2. SilvrMoon 1 year ago

    You’re sketches are so full of life. I love that you seem to have found your own distinctive style. I can definitely feel the spontaneity.

  3. skinnygirlzerofive 1 year ago

    I am so inspired now and want to go back to sketching! Great Post!!!

  4. […] highlighted work is similar to my experience I […]

  5. yeppunshikan 1 year ago

    Lovely artwork. I use to pursue art vigorously when younger, but in my twenties decided I’d prefer to use my art skills for fun rather than profession. I love your watercolor artwork!

    • Sanjukta Sen 1 year ago

      Art for fun is the best kind of art! Thank you so much x

  6. andi1803 1 year ago

    Like your work!

  7. theohsoutopianlife 1 year ago

    There’s something so beautiful about ur work 🙂 loved it

  8. itsmedha 1 year ago

    Sanjukta,Its great to find something creative like sketching to de-stress and use time effectively. You have made use of water-colour as a medium and this perfectly compliments the sketches you have made.Hope to see more of them as you improve, so keep going!

    • Sanjukta Sen 1 year ago

      I totally agree – it is so great! Thank you so much for your kind words, for more of my work feel free to follow me on instagram @sanjsketches 🙂

  9. attjj 1 year ago

    Beautiful drawing I totally aggree with you thanks for the tips now I’ll nail my exams I’ll buy a sketch book and start sketching

    • Sanjukta Sen 1 year ago

      SO happy to hear that!!! Hope your art journey is WONDERFUL 🙂

  10. attjj 1 year ago

    🔬🔨🔩

  11. unsaidwords 1 year ago

    Hey, really commendable work😍

  12. […] the Doodlewash blog,  Spontaneity, Improvement, and Happiness — which highlights an interest I have (see my post on my other blog about it Reviving the […]

  13. asenseoffreedomblog 1 year ago

    Seems like we both share similar interest .i.e., arts. I am not much into sketching , but I love crafts. Doesn’t matter , the important point is that we do it with passion and that’s what matters after all.

  14. maurosalgado 1 year ago

    Marvelous!!!

  15. newzhobbits 1 year ago

    Very refreshing style ! Iam myself travelling and drawing, painting, especially water colour at the moment, your work is very inspirative for me, and spontaneity is exactly what i’m lacking of, i’ll keep that in mind thanks to you 🙂

    • Sanjukta Sen 1 year ago

      Thank you very much! It is so nice to hear your kind words. The trick is not to overthink it!

  16. Carol Lyle 1 year ago

    I love your work, simplicity splashed with colour. Would like to try it myself oneday. Keep going, keep giving joy.

    • Sanjukta Sen 1 year ago

      Thank you Carol! Go for it, just start and it will all fall into place from there xx

  17. winctop 1 year ago

    😊Hey! Fellow Singaporean here appreciating your artworks

  18. JB 1 year ago

    I’m in love with your drawings! Can I request one for free? 😀

  19. extraordinaryhub 1 year ago

    Amazing

  20. Diana Istrate 1 year ago

    Bellissimo!!!! I really love what you do!!!

  21. dreamswheels 1 year ago

    Superbe job, I remembered this guy I was in a campsite he draws me and my friends in exchange of a nice diner. My friend still have the aquarelle on his travel book. Thanks you to your nice work for bringing me this memory back. Art can bring back memory to one when is well achieve. Keep on going.

  22. Jen 1 year ago

    I’ve picked up my brushes again recently too. Keep up the good work! Love the article.

  23. jalynnemorgan 1 year ago

    Love your illustrations! What a great artist

  24. skyelikeswriting 1 year ago

    That piece of art is incredibly amazing. 😃

  25. skyelikeswriting 1 year ago

    And congratulations for graduating 😃😃

  26. Amrutha 1 year ago

    Good work !!

  27. benevolentnow 1 year ago

    So beautiful!

  28. priyadarshini20913 1 year ago

    Lovely work.. enjoyed reading

    Pls also read my blog… https://soulfire2015.wordpress.com/2016/07/05/a-shout-out-to-the-twenties/

    Let me know what you think

  29. sirjpblog 1 year ago

    keep the good work coming dear. The sky will pave ways for you

  30. Anita 1 year ago

    What a talented young man! Great work and thanks for sharing your inspiring story!

  31. zarakhansite 1 year ago

    That is the most beautiful sketches i ever have seen

  32. Jenny Castro 1 year ago

    I am happy to have come across this blog. I’ve always admired art from afar but found myself most enjoying it when I tried my hand at line work and watercolour (in a foundation course I unfortunately never finished). I also found that I was quite good at tonal work. However my commitment to the course wasn’t there and I never picked up a sketchbook again. It would be a great thing to pick up again seeing as I have so much time off because of my summer break from uni. New follower alert!

    • Author

      Thanks so much for following, Jenny! You should definitely start sketching again! Glad you found Doodlewash and that you enjoyed Sanjukta’s Guest Post!

  33. priscillacancel 1 year ago

    Absolutely inspiring !
    Your work is lovely!

  34. nsp2000 1 year ago

    Beautiful pictures yaar!

  35. DearLife 1 year ago

    Mesmerizing colour splash.what texture of paper to you use for this

  36. woodcanvasartist 1 year ago

    Wow…I like your style and your work! It’s free flowing and fun to look at. Keep up the good work.

  37. breathelife77 1 year ago

    Beautiful work! The colors are gorgeous!

  38. mihirgagp 1 year ago

    Amazing work!! You are very much skilled person!! Simply mesmerizing.! Looking forward for more.

  39. tinababab 1 year ago

    You have talent. Thanks for sharing

  40. Very inspiring!

  41. dianegklock 1 year ago

    Just saw this post , fabulous ! Thanks for sharing .

  42. susanarapallo 1 year ago

    Reblogged this on Susana Rapallo and commented:
    I just love these fearless sketches with tons of imperfections but very spontaneous.
    I started loving watercolors not a long time ago, less than a year, to be exactly and I used to think watercolor was a child play thing but in fact you can produce tons of effects and complexities.
    I have a long journey to explore myself on this matter. 🙂

  43. Kelly Smith 8 months ago

    Well written post

  44. alexabrett 7 months ago

    Great post! We all need more art in our lives. Creating something out of nothing is grounding and fun. I always keep my sketch book near. 🙂

  45. Sandra Strait 4 weeks ago

    Your work is wonderful! I like that the color is as much part of the composition as the lines are.

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