Illustration or sketch: one, two, three: ready! How to start sketching

Illustration or sketch can be simplified in order to get it done outdoors or to complete indoors because sometimes the weather can be quite bothersome and not cooperating with our intentions.

I have had a chance to watch numerous people when they first learn painting or drawing.

I would love to share some observations because they might inspire somebody to just get a pencil, a brush and paper and go ahead.

Do we need rules in art?

It might sound strange, but most people believe there are many strict rules when we draw or paint. Maybe the instruction on some sites makes one feel that if you do not follow these rules you cannot paint or draw. That is not true. That is actually completely wrong.

While there are lots of tricks, shortcuts and favorite ways to get things done faster and better, one should not try to stick to something which we call strict rules. Not with creativity. Not in art.

That would mean the small kid who does not have an idea of rules and instructions should not be able to draw. But the small kid is able to draw. Every kid is able to draw and paint.

As people grow up they find out that life wants us to comply with requirements, regulations, rules and certain instructions. It’s no surprise they want to apply rules to everything what we do. I know artists who would call the way of paint application a rule, or the way of drawing something on paper a rule.

No rules, just do your best!

I would love to encourage these who want to try art, to just go with their intention.

I hear quite frequently: I don’t know anything about painting or drawing. Well, you don’t have to. You just have to start trusting your eyes and trying to draw or paint whatever you intend to.

What to use for watercolor sketching?

Everything you can afford or like. If you do not know whether you will continue or not, why would you buy $75 watercolor brush? We always use the largest watercolor brush that still allows achieving what we want. It’s pretty much common sense. You could survive with just one number 10 watercolor brush if it has a good fine tip. 20-brush sets from Dollarstore won’t do anything, don’t go for these.

If you are applying wet paint on your sketch, traditional sketching paper won’t allow that. It is too thin. That’s pretty much common sense, as well; it could tolerate dry pencil or some pen, but not washes, especially repeated washes or paint lifting.

I would advise to always use watercolor paper for drawing, sketch, illustration, practise, color or flow practise because that is thicker and can be made wet.

If you are a beginner, you can live with just beginner’s watercolor paint set.

You can do illustration or sketch any way you like

If you are afraid to draw right away with pen, do the initial drawing in pencil and go over with pen afterwards. Keep the best lines and erase everything else, and here you have a nice, clean, attractive drawing. Why to use pen? It is simply easier. Pen makes the outline clearly visible, all image looks finished and elaborated even when the drawing is far from perfect and watercolor washes will bring your artistic attempt to life.

There is no wrong or right way to sketch, to draw or to paint

All artists develop their own style over time. Should you expect the first attempts to be perfect? No, don’t do that. Always tell yourself: Let us see what happens. Treat all of your first year’s art as a practise, as an experiment. Some will be god, some will fly into the waste basket, and that is absolutely fine.

People call everything which did not come out perfect: a mistake. That does not always apply to art either.

Some artistic mistakes and flaws can become the foundation of your personal style. Some experiments can set the tone for anything you do in the future. Therefore: experiment, experiment and experiment!

I am attaching some works from previous sketching session.

Illustration or sketch can be carried out in any style you prefer

Illustration can be done easily.  I am advising to use pen just for simplicity and speed. It really helps. I also love the accomplished look of such sketches which can be definitely used as completely finished art on the wall or for any other purpose.

Illustration example: pen outline

First we draw with pencil the main lines. We draw lightly without using pressure. After that we repeat the best lines in pen.

Illustration: first washes applied over pen lines

Choose whatever colors you love and would want in your sketch. Activate with water. Test on testing paper how transparent the watered down mix is. Apply small amount of water onto the main image area. You can use spray bottle if it creates mist. Check against light: if the shine is about to disappear, that’s the best time for first washes.

Illustration is ready: more washes or less diluted paint, and we are done.

If you allow first layers to dry and then make your paper wet again, nothing will happen to the dried out first layers. It is safe to go over with water. Don’t rub or scratch with the brush; that will definitely take some paint of.

Corrections are done with paper towel when the painting is wet: pressing paper towel onto paper will take off most of wet paint. When the paper is completely dry, apply washes and use damp brush or paper towel to lift color or paint you don’t want. Repeat until you like it.

The thicker the watercolor paper, the more things you can do with it.

Cheap watercolor paper is for tests and some practice only. It is simply too thin to do something more.

You can choose any pen you can afford or like. Your pen can be different color, too. Black simply fits any other color and makes it stand out more.

Large sketch using much wider pen

All watercolor illustrations and sketches look great. If you want them to be better: practice more and don’t expect immediate perfection.

Draw the line: put things in perspective

Perspective in art is much easier to implement than perspective in life. In fact, there is nothing much to it as far as we are aware of  how it works and what it does for a painting or drawing.

Perspective creates depth and dimension in any drawing and painting which deals with suitable subject.

Traditional linear perspective uses size, overlap of objects and their placement in composition, as well as convergence of lines.

If you love landscape, street scenes, rural scenes with farms and barns, simple roads, streams or rivers, so on and so forth, you will need to implement linear and atmospheric perspective and also use color values accordingly to perspective principles.

Well, if you are drawing and painting plein air, you most likely use some perspective.

Some people are confused: how many vanishing points to use: 1, 2, 3 or even more?

The answer is that will depend on the placement of your shapes and forms on different planes.

1 point perspective uses 1 vanishing point on the horizon line.

Most often we use 1 point perspective with roads, streams, tree and fence lines and buildings on both or one side of a path or road. That creates an easy perceivable composition which is pleasure to look at and easy to create.

2 point perspective respectively will use 2 vanishing points.

Plein air drawing, 2-point perspective

Pen and watercolor sketch, mostly done outdoors, since this building is next to my entrance. We used the 2-point perspective sketch

When drawing close-ups of buildings or placing many scattered buildings in composition we can use rather 2, 3 or 4 point perspective because that will allow achieving lots of depth and dimension.

When some objects are close, some distant or scattered all around, you could use 3 and 4 vanishing points. It does not mean that your drawing becomes extremely complex. It means that you will have freedom to place compositionally wherever you want it and make it the size you’d like.

I noticed that most drawing demos that involved 2 point perspective did not explain that the roof top line runs through 1 vanishing point. That was also the most confusing part for students since they had a problem placing the roof line where it belongs.

Please enjoy the recent paintings and sketches which involve perspective.

Thin and thick pen and watercolor for creation of perspective sketch, 1-point perspective

Simple watercolor plein air sketch which has just slightly sketched in perspective

Perspective in man-made structures: large watercolor. To create it, I first did a pencil sketch on transparent transfer paper in the size of the painting.

This is a demo pen and watercolor painting for 1-point perspective

I am giving a set of 4 classes about perspective in sketches and drawings at the moment. Therefore, I haven’t made any perspective videos or demos yet. However, I am working on materials and most likely this winter I will be able to post something to learn from online.

Other than that, bad health and garden work kept me from finishing work at my website. It’s still half done.

If Bluehost with their Mojo Marketplace were not cheating and if I had the theme I initially wanted, my website would be completed and running beautifully by now. Unfortunately, I had to wait for refund and then I got very sick and then I had to prepare classes, so I could not work on finalizing neither the layout nor content of my website.

I did not post recently that much for the same reason: I thought I just wait for a while until it’s all done. That moment never came so far; therefore, I am posting my recent works that involve creating perspective. Most drawings, sketches and watercolor paintings are done outdoors or plein air. A few are demos. It’s needless to say that perspective is an important part of any painting, sketch or drawing. Learning how to create perspective is not difficult or overwhelming.

Please be patient and you will be able to check out my advice on creation of perspective in any drawing or painting. I will definitely have lots of images and sample drawings.

How to create better art with less effort

Is it even possible to create great art with little effort? Yes, and no.

The most important part is probably wasting less time and materials. We need a plan to achieve that. A good plan for creation of a painting means sketching and drawing or creating a value sketch. In my personal experience, it is pencil, pen and watercolor sketch which is the best preparation stage for a painting.

When somebody wants to apply for classes I am usually told this:

Well, I’d really like to paint. Something like that. Points to some landscape or floral, or still life. Basically, everybody is interested in the result and not that much in the path which led me to it. I spend a lot of time practicing and exploring the subject from different perspectives.

If you are one of those artists-to-be who jumped straight to brushes and did not take your time to explore the elements of a piece of art, I can understand you. People usually think watercolor and sketching is for watercolor artists who mask out white spots or those who get ideal washes just by swinging around the brush with some paint on it. However, there is a missing link between the idea of our art and it’s draft.

The real life shows that any potential artist and anybody who does art as hobby would have gotten much better paintings very soon if they considered sketching as an important step to creation of a painting with any medium: watercolor, pastel, acrylic or oil. The truth is, they all originate in one place: in our brain through our eyes and senses. Therefore, we should exercise our visual abilities (I’m talking more about importance to see in my previous post) and especially our visual perception maximally often.

The problem with not well developing painting is not the technique of putting on paint. That usually works fairly well after a few attempts. The problem most often is in our eyes: we do not perceive values, shapes, proportions and potential composition; therefore, we cannot come up with a neat plan to make painting elements work.

Sketch is done much faster than a painting. Sketching out objects or just values, putting them in a draft composition momentarily allows making a decision if that will or won’t work. Sketch isn’t the entire painting, but by doing it one learns much more about their subject. We find out that we need to look at it more carefully, more intensely, more accurately.

Bluebell path, sketch

Path to unknown, sketch

I can compare creating art with writing. When people say I don’t want to sketch and I don’t want to know anything about drawing it is like somebody who intends to write a novel would say: I don’t want to know anything about spelling and grammar, I just want to write a novel, so give me the idea and off we go. The entertaining painting type of events also does a bad service: not only the entire idea does not allow anybody to really learn anything about creation of art, but the approach is just so wrong and materials the “drink creatively” events use are so bad that many people get a wrong idea.

White birches, recent class demo, 20 x 24 inches

When somebody is just moving paint around the canvas in hopes that it miraculously will take the right shape and become the right color, I must say, unfortunately:, it won’t. Painting is a summary of things we put in it. It also is the energy we put in it. Therefore, the sooner one learns about values, relationship between light and dark areas, values, softness or roughness of edges, proportion and compositional layout of objects, the faster their paintings will take shape and look multi-dimensional. Lesson 2 is: the missing link between our idea and its incorporation into artwork is the value sketch whether in color, or black and white. Creating value sketch and color sketch is not a waste of time and paint: it is the straight path which leads us to much better art. I’d suggest: take the sketching classes and workshops, it helps hugely. Apply for art classes here:  https://inesepogagallery.com/classes-workshops-schedule/