These beautiful doodlewashes are from Sam Nielsen in Moorhead, Minnesota (follow her on Instagram!). Sam says she’s been dabbling with art her whole, but didn’t seriously put time into developing herself as an artist until about 2 years ago. She recently started accepting commissions and the bottom right image is of her first commissioned piece!
“I’ve always had the desire and passion to create,” she says, “but never really thought I had the ability to become an artist. However, over time, I’ve learned it’s more about putting hard work into something instead of having a natural talent. The first time I tried watercolor, it was like a whole new world was revealed. While I also like to work with oil paints, watercolor is my ‘soul mate’ medium. ” (Yay! What a wonderful way to describe it!)
Sam enjoys urban sketching and creating illustrations. “Urban sketching has really helped improve my technical abilities, because it forces me to be more gestural with my work, and analyze the world right in front of me. I also enjoy illustrating, because it makes a fragment of your imagination come to life!”
She uses Winsor & Newton watercolors, and for urban sketching has a compact set so it’s easy to travel with. She’s also a big fan of the Moleskin watercolor sketchbooks. (couldn’t agree more!). For the ink in her doodlewashes, she uses different sizes of Micron pens.
When she’s urban sketching, she starts off mapping everything in pencil, mostly focusing on perspective and proportions of the objects in relation to one another. She doesn’t dive into too much detail with the pencil, because she feels like that can take away from her gestural style at times. After that, she’ll go over areas with a micron pen, and then start adding detail, while still staying gestural.
“I like the idea being ‘brave’ with the pen.” says Sam. “Since you can’t erase it, you have to make marks and stick with it! It helps keep my sketches alive and full of energy. Once I have everything inked out, I then come in with watercolor. My illustrations are a similar process, but I spend a lot of time planning out the layout of the page, or what outfit a certain character will wear. I start off characters in a gestural fashion, and then refine them as I go.”
Sam is often inspired by nature, but also likes drawing everyday objects. “You can draw anywhere, and something that seems mundane can really become a great sketch when you bring it to life. I am also inspired by the places I travel. Anytime we go on a trip, I always have to plan out some sketching time. I want to document where I’ve been with my own hand, not just a photograph. Then when I go look through my sketches, I’m transported back to that moment in time.”
Thanks so much for taking to time to share you wonderful doodlewashes and process with us Sam! And be sure to follow her on Instagram to see more!
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!