GUEST DOODLEWASH: Sketching Robots

Robot Watercolor by Zeno Vanfretti

These wonderful robot doodlewashes come to us from Zeno Vanfretti in Kingston, New York. Zeno was born in Guatemala City, Guatemala in 1976. He grew up in a multilingual household where not only Spanish was spoken but Italian and English as well. “I began drawing at an early age,” he says, “having been gifted with the love of art from my mother. As a child I mostly drew pictures of my classmates.”

Zeno majored in Graphic Design at the University of Guatemala, and moved to the United States 11 years ago where he now works with his wife at their small breakfast café in Kingston. “Our son sometimes joins us.”

The inspiration from Zeno’s robot Illustration came from an episode of the Twilight Zone titled “One for the Angels.” The story tells of a salesman who sold tin robots and in a sense was a robot himself. He watched intensively, and studied the robot that the main character was selling. “As a child,” he says, “I remember going through the Guatemalan markets seeing if I could find one. Never did I find one, so I began drawing it.”

Zeno says, “I found myself being extremely interested in this character made of tin. Something that is looked upon as destructive, I saw something else. The robot began representing me. My feelings came out in every illustration and none were destructive feelings.”

Robot Doodlewash by Zeno VanfrettiHe has found a friend in this character and it comes naturally to represent life through him. “I love those seconds in life that give us joy and through each illustration I try to capture that.”

“I keep them as silent as possible for the audience to feel what the drawing is saying. Appreciating moments in life, either happy or sad ones, can be sometimes challenging and it is priceless to me if I can represent them in a one dimensional way.”

Before starting an illustration he gathers his paper, pencil, watercolors and ink pen and then sits at his kitchen table to begin. “I start my sketch with a square and then the story usually takes a life of its own.”

Zeno uses mixed media paper as well as watercolor paper. His sketch starts with an HB pencil followed by a 0.1 Staedtler Mars Matic pen.

“The lines I am able to draw are just right, and the mess is controllable, he says. “The third step is to erase the pencil graphite and begin with watercolors. As well as using regular watercolor brushes I use Pentel brushes which water can be added to. My final step is using ink to detail the illustration.”

But the best part of a finished work, according to Zeno, is watching his son look at the drawing and smile. “When that happens I know I accomplished what I wanted from my illustration.”

Thanks so much for sharing your wonderful doodlewashes with us Zeno! And be sure to follow him on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter! Your robot is so endearing and we’ll be following to see what wonderful moment he’ll appear in next!

Recommend0 recommendationsPublished in Featured Artists
  1. Teresa Robeson 7 years ago

    How clever and fun! I don’t remember that episode of the Twilight Zone (although I watched it religiously), but my love for robots stems from Mr. Robot himself (Isaac Asimov who created the Law of Robotics that is used or referred to by tons of sci fi books and tv/movies since). 🙂 Thanks for sharing these delightful robot illustrations!

    • Author

      So glad you liked Zeno’s work, Teresa! 👍🏻😃 I’ve always liked robots, but could never trace the source! Hehe…and I’m not sure I’ve seen that episode, but definitely want to find it now!

      • Teresa Robeson 7 years ago

        Did you watch Lost In Space? Another major robot character there…so I heard. I never watched that one myself. 😉

  2. Sharon Mann 7 years ago

    Very imaginative Zeno, thanks for sharing your art and interesting life story with us. Thank you Charlie

  3. Akire Bubar 7 years ago


  4. Jessica 7 years ago

    I love these! They are fresh and whimsical and sweet. I have a thing for fish and dinosaurs- throw this sweet robot it and it’s magical!

  5. Kari 7 years ago

    Very imaginative. It’s an interesting thought to give something so mechanical human emotions. I was just reading an article about AI research. Will look on IG!! 😊

  6. Damita M-S 7 years ago

    I really like the robots and his story. I like how the robots represented him in the stories. His process is great too!

    • Author

      I’m so glad! Yeah…he has such a wonderful approach and that robot character is just fantastic! Definitely someone to follow!! 😃😃

  7. artandmoondreams 7 years ago

    Tin robots that touch the heart…wow. These are beautiful pieces, love the background inspiration, (I remember the toy robot from that episode), and love how the art is woven so nicely with life. Delightful feature, thank you for sharing.

    • Author

      Yay! Happy you liked it! Yeah…Zeno’s robots are so fun and endearing. I love how he uses them to describe the human condition. (And chooses the best bits! Hehe)

  8. amaryllislog 7 years ago

    How absolutely charming!

  9. […] that like using Pentel Aquash water brushes, check out some of their wonderful work – Zeno Vanfretti, Adelyn Siew, Sissh, Annie Parsons, and Nadya […]

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