I have done art my entire life, however I am a relative newcomer to on location sketching and at the moment, it makes up most of my work. As a busy mom of two, getting out once or twice a week to sketch has been a great way to unwind and reset. Where I go on my own depends on how much of a break I have on that particular day (I’ll venture further if I have more time), but I definitely prefer sketching outdoors. At least once a month, I go sketch with the San Diego Urban Sketchers Meetup group. They are a really supportive group of people and I find it inspiring to share with others.
When choosing a subject, I try to challenge myself by looking for elements that I feel I need to improve on. For example, I’ll choose a crowded area if I think that I need to work on people. If I need to loosen up, I’ll look at something with a lot of foliage or decoration going on so I can break it down and simplify it. I still find boats and live animals very challenging because they move around a lot. If I’m running errands (like getting my oil changed), then I’ll just sketch whatever is nearby.
I particularly enjoy painting tile-roofed buildings surrounded by foliage because the orange and the green create such a nice contrast on the page. Fortunately, there is no shortage of tile-roofed buildings here in Southern California!
To save time and improve the way I see, I usually draw directly with pen. Time permitting, I’ll go over it in watercolor. I usually do my work in a 5 ¼” X 8 ¼” Hand Book Travelogue Sketchbook or Watercolor Sketchbook (I also carry a 3 ½” X 5 ½” version in my purse). I currently use ZIG Millenium pens in black. The paints are Winsor & Newton travel set, used with Kuretake water brushes. I do like to experiment with different materials, so I anticipate that at some point my kit will change (lately I’ve been really inspired by what people are doing with gouache). But for now these are what work best for me on the go.
My work is rough, imperfect, and I’m totally okay with it. My whole breadth is a work in progress, much like life itself. I wish that I had adopted this mindset sooner, because I might have had some awesome drawings from my travels throughout the years! Though I majored in Art as an undergraduate, for years I was plagued with self-doubt and believed that I should be doing something “more responsible” (this crazy notion that if I wasn’t miserable, I wasn’t working hard enough!). I still took art classes here and there, but pursued other things, including a short and stressful career in museums. After suffering a near-fatal medical emergency in 2014, I came to the realization that life is too short to stress over perfection.
A few months after my recovery, I started taking classes through UCSD extension. In the process of strengthening my foundational art skills, I was fortunate enough to recognize that this is where my talent and passion intersect. I am even more fortunate that I have a partner that fully supports what I do (Adam is awesome!).
It has been liberating to finally allow myself to create work and share it freely with others. My self and my work is ever-evolving and I am enjoying the imperfect process!
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!