GUEST DOODLEWASH: Sketches & Illustrations

Doodlewashes by Sam Nielsen

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!

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
29 Comments
  1. Snehal Kank 2 years ago

    I just started following her on Instagram, I like her creativity and illustrations too! Thanks for sharing Charlie 🙂

  2. Teresa Robeson 2 years ago

    Those are really fun! I also like the idea of being brave with the pen, too. What really helped me was participating in #Inktober last year. It’s for the month of October and I’m doing it again this year.

    And you’ve convinced me; I’ll get a Moleskine Watercolor!

    • Author

      Yay!! Finally!! Lol ❤️😃 I was thinking about doing Inktober too! (Though I did DrawingAugust and Paintseptember…wait… Do I have an addition?! 😳)

      • Teresa Robeson 2 years ago

        Oh, my dear Charlie, we are going to have to enroll you in an Artist Challenge Anonymous program, you are THAT addicted! Hahaha! But, pleeeease do it with me! 🙂 🙂 x

      • Author

        I probably will by default because I make something every day and can’t help by grab for my fountain pen! Guess a watercolor-only post wouldn’t count, so would have to whip something up special on any day I try that. Hmmm…okay!! 😳😳Must take challenges!!!!!

      • Teresa Robeson 2 years ago

        Hmm, you could draw with the ink/pen and then add watercolor to make both an #inktober piece and a #Doodlewash piece in one! 🙂

      • Author

        I did that all through August😊 It was the double post that got exhausting. Lol But may try it again! 😉

      • Teresa Robeson 2 years ago

        You don’t have to double-post exactly; just do your usual doodlewash blog post and add the hashtag #Inktober to it, that’s all! 🙂

      • Author

        So you can add watercolor to Inktober things?

      • Teresa Robeson 2 years ago

        Why not? If you draw with ink, then that’s the ink component. It’s not like that guy is going to check in on anyone and tell them they’re doing it wrong. I honestly don’t think he ever has time to look at any of the drawings that other people did…a ton of people participate. 🙂 And besides, we’re rule breakers, right? 😀

      • Author

        True! But I tried breaking the rules at first in DrawingAugust and nobody responded until I ditched the color. 😉 And you’re really determined to get me to do this with you aren’t you? LOL

      • Teresa Robeson 2 years ago

        Yes! It’s not fun getting into trouble (or drawing) unless I drag my friends with me! 😉

      • Author

        Hehe.. I’ll try tagging my doodlewashes and see if they kick me out then! Lol

      • Teresa Robeson 2 years ago

        Not a chance! There are no Inktober police! And who can kick out a face like yours??

      • Author

        Haha! 😊😊I’ll do it… first one is running late though.

      • Teresa Robeson 2 years ago

        Like I said: no police! 😀

  3. Sharon Mann 2 years ago

    What joyful painting Sam, I love your style. Thank you Charlie, for introducing Sam.

  4. kirkistan 2 years ago

    Yeah Minnesota! I like Sam’s sketch and recognize that lift bridge. I like hearing about Sam’s process and her results are tremendous. Thank you for introducing Sam!

  5. thepaperbaker 2 years ago

    Inspiring background behind the fun watercolors 🙂

  6. Kari 2 years ago

    These are great! Another artist to follow on IG! Yay! Thanks, Charlie! 😘

  7. Sam Nielsen 2 years ago

    Thank you all for your kind words and incredible support!! I’m so thankful to have had this opportunity, and I’m excited to get connected with more great artists!! — And thanks again Charlie!

  8. artandmoondreams 2 years ago

    Lovely and up-lifting sketches. That watercolor is her ‘soul-mate’ medium really shows and it is a great way to describe it. Thank you for another great feature Charlie.

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