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Sketching in watercolor: what’s the advantage?

Sketching still life in watercolor

I’m usually advising my students: if you ever would like to learn drawing for real, do not use photos, grids and other tools, but only your eyes in addition to paper and pencil. That provides with a huge artistic freedom and allows not to depend on camera, printer, computer and photo editing software. That also saves a lot of time. It is more difficult for some people to draw and paint from a real object initially, but it is like everything else: once you’ve understood how it’s done, the improvement is continuous and inevitable.

I grew up and learned painting without any cameras and photos. There was no internet, there were no computers. I suppose, that’s why the number of artists was noticeably smaller, too: in order to paint or draw something, you simply had to employ your visual abilities and imagination. I am disagreeing with those who are trying to convince us that everybody in the past was using some kind of camera obscura in order to capture accurate details, proportions and perspective. It’s believed, mostly amateur artists were using it since they did not have the knowledge and capability of producing good drawings. I know, everybody has heard about Canaletto whose drawings were created that way. Well, there a few others, too. However, majority of artists were using THEIR OWN visual perception and THEIR OWN drawing ability.

I find that most people cannot draw not because of inability to handle pencil and create the image, but because they don’t know what to look for when they are seeing something and would like to re-create it on a paper or canvas. That takes practice and work, that’s all.

I love doing drawings or sketches just for my own pleasure. It’s so great to see some stuff evolving on a sheet of a blank paper. Nothing really compares to this fantastic feeling! That always excited me, and I could spend hours drawing alone while other kids were playing in the yard. I would draw anything in the garden, on the street, I used to do lots of portraits of my sister, other kids and later my daughter and my group-mates at the University.

Paintings are sometimes bothersome, especially the large and very large ones because that simply is a lot of work, it can be hard physical work, as well, when handling huge canvasses.

Sketching with pencil, watercolor, pen, ink or with watercolor and ink is a quick way of capturing the desired scenery of object. I cannot draw recently anything tiny because my eyes are getting worse and am trying not to use glasses. Well, my sketches are between 10 x 12 to 12 x 16 in, but done quite fast.

Sketching still life: ink and watercolor

There are many advantages of sketching with pencil, watercolor, ink and pen or some of these together. First of all, sketching allows to stay focused. It’s like a daily exercise which keeps us in a good shape. Our senses stay sharp and fresh, and it’s easier to get back to larger artwork after a break when one has been often sketching.

Sketching in watercolor and pen

Sketching does not take much time, it is very relaxing. Many artists and people who are doing art for pleasure know that lack of time is an ongoing problem.

Floral sketch, still life sketching

Sketching is a good thing when one wants to experience another medium, try another subject or style. There are millions of different ways of sketching, meaning, there is something for everybody.

Sketching still life in watercolor

Finally, sketching is crucial for those who want to master drawing for real and from live objects, or to capture a plein-air scenery. We can learn writing when we read a lot, we can learn many things just reading about them, but drawing is something which we can only learn by doing it. The more we draw, the more we sketch, the more artistic options we get. We might get this way a new idea, a new approach and we might find a completely new style which works for us. I always have something on my studio tables: flowers, cups, jugs (my favorites, I have a large collection of them!), fruits, berries, room plants, books, painting supplies and so on. I’m already waiting for springtime because that’s when the true sketching starts as the nature wakes up and takes us outdoors.

It is also possible to frame sketches and use them as beautiful art for decorating your space. Sketches can make great illustrations and sometimes serve as a standalone artwork.

Nature, floral still life sketching

Happy sketching! Please share your experiences with different media and subjects if you have time.

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29 Comments Post a comment
  1. Your artwork is so crisp. I love it!

    March 2, 2014
  2. I love the light, the joyful color and the radiant fruit. :-)

    March 2, 2014
    • Thanks Brenda, I love them, too! In fact, I’m doing a full sheet watercolor, so the entire studio is full of fruit, flowers and other stuff. Have to somehow make use of this nasty weather. By doing something nice, it’s easier to tolerate this terrible cold we are still having.

      March 2, 2014
      • True! I’m going to try to illustrate the cover for a self-published book. Gulp. I feel determined about it, though.

        March 2, 2014
      • Why not! Sounds like a great thing to do. That should be lots of excitement because it’s your own book! Congratulations!

        March 2, 2014
      • I think it will be fun. I may need to do more than one. But hey, I write drafts…

        March 3, 2014
      • It will be fun. I’d probably do some 3 drafts. It’s easier to decide when you have a choice. I’m already excited to see what you’ll come up with. Good luck!

        March 3, 2014
      • Thanks!

        March 3, 2014
      • You’re very welcome!

        March 3, 2014
  3. superb art and another first class posting from a gifted author!

    March 3, 2014
  4. Great advice with beautiful examples of your art. Love your pieces.

    March 3, 2014
    • Thanks Mary! I hope more artists would start to employ their visual potential rather than that one of a camera. I appreciate you liked these sketches, your work is great, as well, I just had a look at Pears painting.

      March 3, 2014
  5. A fascinating essay on the advantages of sketching. I enjoyed the art work you chose to illustrate this. Beautiful drawings and paintings.

    March 3, 2014
    • Thank you Mary so much! I’m really happy to hear that somebody likes my drawings and sketches, it’s always nice!

      March 3, 2014
  6. Beautiful sketches… Wish I could draw a little bit…

    March 5, 2014
    • Thank you! In most cases, all it takes is commitment and some desire to do art. Maybe it’s time you start drawing?

      March 5, 2014
  7. I love your art. It’s bright and fresh and joyful. I’d love to be able to draw, sketch or paint, but I think I should stick to words ;)

    March 10, 2014
    • Thank you Johanna! It sure is great to be able to capture some scenes or objects using artistic means. Well, we all have to stick to stuff which works best for us!

      March 10, 2014
  8. JF #

    Reblogged this on closetoeighty and commented:
    Since I started this blog on 10/03/2013 I was inspired to try some abstract painting using the paint program on my laptop. I published on the blog 9 paintings. Most liked was the last one. It might be that there are simply more followers, or that there are more polite followers, or that I am going in the right direction. Whatever the reason, I am going to continue to work on abstract paintings. However, after reading this post by Inese Poga I am going also to try sketching. I hope that some of you will be inspired by this post too.

    March 16, 2014
    • Thanks a lot! Especially, I’m glad you decided to try sketching and my post served as inspiration. Well, and don’t give it up if the first attempt is not perfect. Those who have patience, get rewarded sooner or later. I hope, too, some other people will take a pencil or pen and start sketching which is so much fun and pleasure just because when starting a small sketch we use to be more relaxed than when we are planning a large artwork.

      March 16, 2014
      • JF #

        I will not give up until I am satisfied with my results.
        Thank you for the wonderful post!

        March 16, 2014
      • That’s great! And thank you again, since you help me reaching out!

        March 16, 2014
      • JF #

        If you like anything on my blog you can help me to reach out too (by reblog of one post or by introduction to the blog).

        March 16, 2014
      • Sure, I will have to check out your blog some time. I’m sort of not posting anything new because I am dealing with taxes at the moment, oh, that’s really time-consuming and not funny at all.

        March 16, 2014
      • JF #

        :)

        March 17, 2014
  9. Such amazing artwork!

    March 16, 2014

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