GUEST DOODLEWASH: The Beautiful State of Maine

Lighthouse in Maine by Jay Vance - doodlewash and watercolor sketch of lighthouse building on coast of Maine

Rusted Doorknob by Jay Vance - Doodlewash and watercolor sketch of old door with a rusted knobGreetings from the state of Maine!  I’m Jay Vance, and I live here with my wife on the Atlantic coast (follow me on Instagram!). Maine is a beautiful state with unlimited scenes to interest artists. I live within walking distance of these opportunities: coastal sights such as the Portland Head Light House and fishermen’s shacks and homes reflected on the water; Portland’s architecture with old brick buildings and cobblestone streets; and landscapes which include fields, tumbled-down stone walls, and magnificent forests.

Tree stump by Jay Vance - Doodlewash and watercolor sketch of bark and leavesI came to drawing and painting relatively later in life than many artists who began when they were children.  My training is in teaching.  I have both a B.S. and an M.Ed. from the University of Maine.  After retiring from coaching football, and on a whim, I signed up for a beginner’s watercolor class.  I thought it might be interesting to see how watercolors were used.  It was like magic!  My teacher was so supportive, and I loved creating images. I was hooked!  I took several more classes and began reading every art instruction book I could get my hands on.  Some people who have influenced me are Robert Wade, Claudia Nice, Peter Sheeler, Alphonso Dunn, and Judith Kinsman.

Hay Building by Jay Vance - Doodlewash and watercolor sketch of green and yellow buildingI might confess that the blank page intimidated me for a long time.  I didn’t want to make mistakes.  But my technique continues to evolve, and happy “mistakes” are now part of it.  Reflection is an important part of my learning. When I finish a piece, I usually display it in a place where I can see it throughout the day.  I always find those mistakes and make mental notes.

Cobblestone street by Jay Vance - Doodlewash and watercolor sketch of narrow streetAll of my paintings begin as sketches done in pen and ink.  I prefer .005 and .02 Micron pens but sometimes work with a Lamy Safari fountain pen.  I’m actually using the .02 more than ever because I now feel the .005 line to be rather “timid”. I have used both Winsor & Newton and Daler-Rowney watercolors.  My favorite paper is Arches 140 lbs., cold press watercolor paper.

I have found that my process of sketching with pen and ink first and then applying watercolor washes works well when I am depicting weathered surfaces. Edges and shadows are accomplished by the ink sketch, and color is the final consideration.Houses by Jay Vance - Doodlewash and watercolor sketch of white house with red roof

Sketching with pen and ink on watercolor paper enables me to create textures that I would not be able to create on smoother paper. The texture is created by using the “tooth” of the paper. This technique works well when the subject is especially rough, such as the bark of a tree or shingles and bricks.

Sketching and painting have given me ways of expressing myself that I never had before. I now take the time to actually appreciate the world around me.

Jay Vance

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, contact me!
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  1. So beautiful!!!

  2. Sharon Mann 1 year ago

    I’m so glad you took the watercolor class Jay, your creative work makes me very happy. Thanks for sharing. Thank you Charlie.

  3. Moon in Capricorn 1 year ago

    I love your paintings. The pen-and-ink with watercolor is perfect.

    • Jay Vance 1 year ago

      I’m pleased that you like my sketches. Judith Kinsman, my teacher is so talented and so supportive!!

      • Moon in Capricorn 1 year ago

        Like you, I’m starting very late in life, so your story is very inspiring.

    • Jay Vance 1 year ago

      Hi Judith,
      Thank you. Yes, pen and ink with watercolor is a great combination. You can establish your edges and some of your shadows and textures before you get to the watercolor. At that point, you mostly think about color and values.

      • Moon in Capricorn 1 year ago

        I’ve only done a couple of paintings using both ink and watercolor — mostly I’ve used the combination for quick sketches. I do like the look, so I might have to use the technique more often.

  4. Fred Wissemann 1 year ago

    Nice paintings Jay. Can you tell me what ink you are using? I have a Pilot Metropolitan pen with the Pilot Namiki Black ink. It writes and draws beautifully, but the ink bleeds when I apply watercolor over it. I know there are water resistant fountain pens inks such as Platinum Carbon, but they are very expensive. Thanks

    • Jay Vance 1 year ago

      I use Micron pens when I know I am going to apply watercolor washes. Sometimes, if I feel I will not use watercolor, I use my Lamy Safari with Noodlers Bulletproof black ink.

  5. Jessica Seacrest 1 year ago

    Hi Jay, the description of where you live and the beauty you capture in you sketches makes me want to visit! It was wonderful to read your story. Thank you for the inspiration!

    • Jay Vance 1 year ago

      Hi Jessica. I’m so glad you like my sketches! Maine is a wonderful place to visit, so much beauty!!

  6. Teri C 1 year ago

    I love Maine. Love it! New follower here.

  7. Wow, beautiful work, Jay. I’m so glad you found watercolor, as you’re clearly gifted!

  8. Jay Vance 1 year ago

    Hi Laura. Thank you so much for your kind comment!!

  9. L inda 1 year ago

    Love your work.

    • Jay Vance 1 year ago

      Thank you, Linda!!😊😊

  10. Sharon Bonin-Pratt 1 year ago

    You have a sensitive eye for detail and beauty, well captured in your paintings, Jay. How fortunate that you took that watercolor class. Your art is beautiful.

    • Jay Vance 1 year ago

      Hi Sharon. Thank you for your kind comment!! It was a great starter for me with a very good teacher 🙂

  11. Wow this is amazing stuff! I am captivated by your watercolor and sketching skills. Reading your story, we have a lot in common and like a lot of the same tools. And I even live on the Atlantic coast, albeit south of you in NC. 😉 Enjoyed your post, and just followed you on Instagram to keep up with your work!

    • Jay Vance 1 year ago

      Thank you, KD. I appreciate your comment!!

    • Jay Vance 1 year ago

      Hi Tonya. We do have a lot in common! Thank you so much for your comments. My wife and I visited NC about 2 months ago. So many sketching opportunities there also.

    • Author

      Love hearing about the follow! Glad you liked this feature, Tonya! 😃

  12. Wonderful sketches! I have always been fascinated with Maine, I have no idea why other than I think it would be the coast, state parks, the wildness of it I suppose. 🙂

    • Jay Vance 1 year ago

      Hi Margaret. Maine is awesome!! Come and visit our beautiful state. You’ll love it.

  13. KD HUFF 1 year ago

    Love, love the the stump painting! I’m going straight to Instagram to follow your account and enjoy more of your work!

  14. memadtwo 1 year ago

    I love the way you use the white space. Beautiful! (K)

    • Jay Vance 1 year ago

      Thank you so much. I appreciate your comment. Leaving areas white is something I thought about a lot.

  15. Naoko (@penandblue) 1 year ago

    Very impressive.. especially about using the “tooth” of the watercolor paper, which may add a unique face to your beautiful pen and ink works! I’m glad I can read about you here as a doodlewash family (I was also a guest doodlewasher in April, thanks to Charlie!) and I’m following you already!!😊

    • Jay Vance 1 year ago

      Thank you, Naoko! I will look for you on Instagram also. I do enjoy sketching on watercolor paper, but I sometimes use my Moleskine sketchbook if I am not going to add watercolor washes.

      • Naoko (@penandblue) 1 year ago

        Yap, I can see you enjoy different outcomes of watercolor paper and Moleskine depending on what you have in mind to draw. Thank you so much, Jay!

    • Author

      Thanks Naoko! So happy to hear you’re already a fan of Jay’s work! 😃

  16. Jen 1 year ago

    Yay, another later in life artist! I love your muted color palette, and that door with the rusty handle is gorgeous! Looking forward to following your work.

    • Jay Vance 1 year ago

      Hi Jen, It’s fun finding something “later in life” that fascinates us, isn’t it!! Thank you for you kind comments.

  17. Phil Cooper 1 year ago

    lovely work Jay, these studies have such a sense of place, it makes me want to go visit!

  18. Jay Vance 1 year ago

    Thank you, Phil! Your comments are very kind! Maine is a great place to visit, and I hope you get the chance.

  19. shauna lee lange 1 year ago

    Gorg. I could look at it all day.

    • Jay Vance 1 year ago

      Hi Shauna Lee,
      Thank you for such a nice comment and for checking in on my entry!!

  20. Cathe 1 year ago

    I’m so drawn to your work Jay. Your line quality is so delicate and the overlay of color, with plenty of white space, perfection I think. Consider me a big fan!

    • Jay Vance 1 year ago

      Hi Cathe! I’m pleased to know you like my sketches. Thanks for your kind comments.

  21. clearskies2016 1 year ago

    Way cool sketches. Thanks for sharing the details.

    • Jay Vance 1 year ago

      Thank you, Clearskies, for liking my sketches. I am glad you enjoy them.

  22. Rob 1 year ago

    Awesome artwork! Your comment about using yhd .005 as being timid speaks volumes to me. I’m quite timid skething in ink. I prefer pencil then outlining in pen. I should change this.

  23. Jay Vance 1 year ago

    Hi Rob,
    I have found that going right to the pen forces me to make decisions and stay with them. This “commitment” also implies that I have a fairly clear idea of where I am headed before I start, not to say that I don’t make changes, or adjustments, along the way!
    Thanks for your kind comment.

  24. Loved the article. And also your lighthouse, I just cant stop painting them, I do a view landscapes, and then it starts to come in my mind again, I have to do a lighthouse. One of the nicest lighthouse watercolors is made in Maine to. Its on Ron Ranson’s book about Edgar Whitney. the cover is from Skip Lawrence. A gorgeous watercolor.

    • Jay Vance 1 year ago

      Dear Watercolorsfromholland,

      Thank you for your comment. The information is very interesting!! I am glad you enjoyed the article.


  25. M. L. Kappa 1 year ago

    Such lovely work, Jay! And Maine looks like an artist’s dream!

    • Jay Vance 1 year ago

      Dear M.l. Kappa
      Thank you so much for your comment.
      Maine has attracted artists for generations.
      Of course, if you visit us, you may well want to come in the summer!!!😊😊❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️

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