Category Archives: Sketches

Butterflies

There were a lot of Monarch Butterflies around this summer. There is a field nearby full of milkweed and whenever I passed I paused and spent some time watching the Monarchs flutter from plant to plant.

Closer to home, I found this butterfly on a milkweed beside my driveway. I had to look it up to discover that it is a Pearly Eye Butterfly. I took a photograph of it and used that to sketch it using pen and ink and watercolour pencils.

Sketch of a Pearly Eye Butterfly done with watercolour pencils

I had taken lots of photographs of the Monarchs and milkweed on my walks but hadn’t yet tried to paint them when I found a dead butterfly on the road. I picked it up and took it home to sketch.

Watercolor sketch of Monarch Butterfly

Next I tackled a Monarch from one of my photos. I did the background wet in wet first and added the butterfly afterwards.

Watercolour sketch of a Monarch Butterfly.

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Skies, Water, and Trees

I carry my fountain pen filled with waterproof ink and my homemade sketchbook with me on my morning walks. When I do an ink sketch I also take a photograph, usually with my cell phone and use watercolours later when I’m home to finish them. I also take photos with my camera to paint later.


The two watercolour sketches above were done from photographs taken about 30 minutes apart. One facing east, the other west.

The next two were sketched in ink on location and coloured in later with watercolours
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Grassy Bay

These are some recent watercolour sketches I did from photographs taken on my early morning walks.

Watercolour of osprey in nest back lit by early morning lightThe ospreys are not always at their nest. If they are, as soon as  I appear around the corner, they usually take flight and cry alerting me to the fact that they are there. They fly out over the road and then circle back and away from view.

watercolor of great blue heronThere is usually a Great Blue Heron fishing in Grassy Bay. It is shy and will fly away as soon as it sees me. If it feels safe enough to stay I usually have to use my binoculars to find it.

The picture I based this painting on was taken on a sunny morning. The light made the reeds glow.

Sketching San Francisco Architecture

Here are some very loose ink sketches done during my recent trip to San Francisco. My idea was to sketch these buildings using pen and ink on location and then paint them later with watercolours.

ink sketch of building in San francisco's ChinatownThis one was done in Chinatown. I don’t have much patience with buildings and so I only did the interesting parts and left out a lot of repetitions.

ink sketch of building in San Francisco
I liked the balconies and the fire escapes on this one but they make it harder to sketch. This building was around the corner from where we stayed.

sketch done with ink and watercolour pencils of one of the painted ladies in San Francisco

One of the Painted Ladies. The trees have grown up so you can only see the upper parts of the building. This was the only brightly coloured one. I sketched it in pen on location and coloured it later with watercolour pencils.

 

ink sketch of San Francisco buildingThis one was easier to do as I was able to sit down and so it is more complete.

Rocks and Waves

Here are some watercolour sketches I did on my recent trip to California.  I was there for the NIADA doll conference. We stayed at the Asilomar Hotel and Conference Grounds in Pacific Grove, California.

Early each morning during the conference I went down to the beach with my watercolours to sketch.

For the first 2 efforts, I did an under painting the first day and went back on the second day to (mostly) finish it. I added the final touches later in my room.

I had just started this sketch when I saw movement out of the corner of my eye. There were seals on the rocks to my left. I didn’t sketch them as they were difficult to see in the shadows on the rocks. I do have other sketches of seals and sea lions in my sketchbook form other locations.

For my third sketch, I did most of it on location on one morning and finished it in my room later.
I was in the middle of the sketch when I looked up and saw off to the side a deer and her fawn just a feet feet away. The mother was waking away but the fawn had its back to me and I was able to grab my camera and get a few shots of it before it went off to join its mother.

All of the watercolour sketches were done with no preliminary drawing.

Bark

This crab apple tree is located between 2 large pine trees in my front yard in Ottawa. This year it was visited by a Pileated Woodpecker who worked on a couple of the branches. One of the branches came down in the last wind storm. Every year I expect it to die but it’s still surviving. I have painted it in bloom and in the fall and decided this time to concentrate on the bark.

Watercolour of crab apple tree

A Forest of Rhubarb

I was raking leaves that didn’t get cleaned up last fall and noticed that the rhubarb was up.

I took a break to take a photo of the rhubarb which I used the next day to do a quick watercolour sketch.

This second watercolour is the result of playing with colour.

I did a wet in wet under painting and then played with what was there to make it look like flowers. I don’t know of any flowers that look like the blue ones I painted. They may only exist in my imagination.

Deer Sketches

I’ve had quite a lot of deer visiting the cottage lately.  They come between 6 and 7  in the morning so I have to get up early to see them.  I used to I grab my camera when I saw them.  However  it’s still too dark for photos when they visit so I started leaving  my sketching kit by the window ready to go.

Deer sketches iin ink and watersoluble pencil

I have a deer block (food)  that is a few feet from the walkout of my cottage. I have to be very still as sometimes they can see me through the window. When they are at the block they are relatively still for a few minutes.

Ink sketches and watercolor sketches of deer Some will share the block, some won’t. They kick the others away with their front legs.

My bedroom window is right above the walkout. I moved my sketching kit up there. There’s not much light in the room that early in the morning and I didn’t want to take the time to turn on the light so some of the colours got a bit mixed up.

Sketches of Deer done in pen and watercolourI tried some of the sketches with just watercolour.  I can get get the basic shapes down a lot faster that way but I can make a mess a lot faster too.

Autumn Birches

Some of the trees have lost most of their leaves but the poplars still have some green leaves among the  yellow.   I chose to do a sketch of  some birches beside my driveway.  They have lost virtually all their leaves.  I used coloured pencils for the birch tree trunks and watercolours for the rest .  The yellow and green on the right side are from the poplars that are outside the picture.

View of the Lake

During the summer I can’t see the lake from my cottage.  There are too many trees in between.
This week enough of the leaves have fallen that it is now visible.   I only get a glimpse.

I painted this sketch from my deck.  I left out a few large trees so my actual view is less than what is in the sketch.

As you can see in the sketch the sumac behind my cottage are still brightly coloured and have lots of leaves.  Many of the other ones around the property are much farther along having lost their brilliance and many leaves.

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