There are days when I have grand ideas for a sketch, and then there are days when I’m confronted with a pine cone. I truly find these objects one of the most difficult things to sketch, at least in my faux-realistic style. I had originally imagined some greenery to accompany it, but ran out of time before I could add any. So, I just have this little pine cone trophy of sorts. I remember my earliest drawing classes and pine cones always seemed to be one a subject matter. I’m quite sure it’s because they are so devilishly tough to draw, with repeated patterns that are perfectly balanced, but not always perfectly symmetrical. When I think about, though, that’s sort of how I’d describe a good life. For this one, I inexplicably started sketching it from the middle outward and just hoped for the best. There are indeed more studious ways to approach something like this, but I thought I’d hop in without a plan and see what came out. Sometimes, that’s my favorite way to approach sketching. It’s good to have a grasp of all of the basics, but also good to just play around every now and again. And, it’s what keeps my sketching habit balanced, without being too symmetrical.
Lately, I’ve been asked many times to share a bit more of my process, and so I’ve been thinking about that quite a bit. In truth, though I have a consistent sketching routine, I don’t really know what my process is since it changes from day to day. The only consistent thing is that I start with an ink sketch and then start coloring with glee, based on my mood that day. A bit of wet on wet then wet on dry, then dry brush, then, well, whatever comes to mind next. It struck me that this was exactly how I approached art as a kid. I would read some books and listen closely to my awesome art teacher at school and then say, “Ok!” and rush off to grab my crayons and start scribbling. Everything I learned was still in my little brain, but I just let my hand guide me through the rest. As an adult, I adore tutorials and taking classes, but then I go off and create my own thing again. That’s when it suddenly dawned on me. I’m not a teacher so much as a happy enabler, and that’s a very different sort of thing. It therefore, needs a very different approach that matches better with my childlike exuberance. So, yes, I’m working on something now that I hope to share in the next couple of months. It probably can’t be called a traditional class, but it will, I hope, be something that teaches and enables more people to try and enjoy sketching stuff.
My goal with all of this has always been amazingly simple. I just want to get more people to DO what I was do because it’s so much fun, so therapeutic and so rewarding! Within the first few weeks of this blog I was already talking about starting a doodlewash movement. It’s exactly what a little kid would think might be possible, while every sane adult would roll their eyes or nod condescendingly, knowing it’s just plain nonsense. Maybe it was. But, I’ve never let something as mundane as nonsense stop me from pursuing my dreams. And, I don’t think anyone else should either. Dreams are only ever interesting when they’re big and incredible. Though they often seem like a mere fantasy, there’s so much truth to be found in them. Things may not turn out exactly as I envisioned, to be sure, but chasing that vision is all of the fun. I hope whatever crazy idea you currently have in your head, that you’ll chase after it as well. Though things can be difficult, nothing is ever truly impossible. Even if you find yourself faced with the incredible complexity of sketching pine cones.
About the Doodlewash
Da Vinci Paint Co.: Nickel Azo Yellow, Terra Cotta, and Cobalt Blue. (My “Shiny” Trio) + Opus (Vivid Pink). Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with sepia 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!
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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!