For Day 20 of #WorldWatercolorMonth and our prompt of “Buildings,” I opted for a little scribbled sketch of Big Ben, the nickname for the Great Bell and clock at the north end of the Palace of Westminster in London. I’ve sketched other famous landmarks along the way, but had yet to make a sketch of this one so I figured I’d give it a go. I’ve only ever been to London once in my life, but it was a wonderful trip and I hope to return one day. Being a big kid, I had just finished the first Harry Potter book shortly after it came out and thought it was rather cool that my hotel was close to King Cross station. Though I did search for Platform 9 3/4 as mentioned in the book, it didn’t exist that trip because the books had yet to gain quite the level of notoriety to make it a tourist destination. Though I also had to visit Paddington Station in honor of my favorite actual childhood character, Paddington Bear, who is named after the station, having been discovered there by a lovely family. Yes, in all of my childish tourism, I did indeed view Big Ben in person. Who would ever miss a perfect opportunity to visit the clock from Peter Pan, after all? Yeah, I’m realizing now my London trip had a bit of a recurrent theme in the end.
Yet, that trip to London was made extra fabulous by all of the magical stories that had happened there. Well, happened inside the of books and my own imagination, at least. And a story well told always feels a bit like you’re living in it, no matter how impossible the plot. I was also a fan of the books Bed-knob and Broomstick and, of course, Mary Poppins, the latter written before my mother was even born. All of these I’ve mentioned were made into movies, but I still prefer the stories from the books most. While I always love book illustrations, it was wonderful to draw the missing pictures in my mind. The moments that occurred in those beats in between, where the illustrator had not chosen that particular event to create a depiction. I would draw those missing moments in my mind and it made reading the story so much more interesting and fun. And last, but never least, I loved the books and art of Beatrix Potter, born in Kensington, London. So I have a very found love of England and all of the magical childhood memories that authors writing there have inspired in me.
More than a whimsical memory, I often reread books from my childhood. It’s a wonderful way to reconnect with my inner child and more importantly, that sense of pure wonder that can help me in my art. How does it help? Well, this doodlewash does rather look like Big Ben, but it’s entirely scribbled, doodled, colored, with no ruler or fuss with precise accuracy and was completed in less than an hour. It’s another illusion brought to life by my child inside, who never worries over laborious technical things and just wants to make something cool appear on paper. While I love that people enjoy the little doodles I create, I always want to be clear that they are not technical masterpieces. There’s no step-by-step laborious technique ever applied, just broad principles and broad strokes with a brush and pen. It’s equally why I can’t show you a consistent stepped process as to how I sketch as much as help you simply relive the mindset I use to sketch things in the first place. That, in the end, is the real secret ingredient. So, if you haven’t truly tried tapping into your childish side when you create something new, it’s about time to begin.
About the Doodlewash
Da Vinci Paint Co.: Nickel Azo Yellow, Opus (Vivid Pink), Terra Cotta, Cobalt Turquoise, and Cobalt Blue. Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with sepia ink and black ink in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book. Want to purchase a print of this doodlewash? Send me a note with a link to this post, and I’ll add it to my shop!
Creator of Doodlewash®, founder of World Watercolor Month (July), World Watercolor Group™, and host of the Sketching Stuff Podcast. 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!