Last spring

With a lack of successful work in the last 48 hours, I’m resorting to posting a sketch from last spring when the lilacs were in bloom and very inspiring. The emotional connection to the subject matter really does matter — I love lilacs!

Yellow shape, green shape. And repeat.

Inspired by Shari Blaukopf’s post today (a step-by-step demo on painting a bouquet), I had a lot of fun sketching a bunch of tulips. In fact, I couldn’t seem to stop, hence the four attempts below. Not only was it fun, I learned a lot — more than I can sum up here. One thing to mention though: the harder you try, the less fresh and authentic the result.

(I now have my scanner set up, so these are scans rather than iPad photos).

Rural sketching

I missed the UskMontreal outing yesterday due to anticipated freezing rain that never came. However, I was able to take advantage of the sunny morning to sketch the view across the street. 


Lessons learned: I want to be able to paint the clear blue sky, but I don’t like the granulation of the cerulean blue in the sky. I have since learned that multiple washes will remove this effect, but that would not have been practical here where I had white branches to avoid. I look forward to trying out frisket which would have been useful for this scene. Also, I like to paint while standing.

Winter berries

Wil Freeborn’s lesson 10 involved strawberries and sight sizing (drawing an object actual size). I look forward to drawing some fresh local berries this summer. 


Lessons learned: don’t be afraid to be bold with the shadow on the first stroke (in this lesson, the berry shadows were painted first); I find it easier to scrub out the highlights, but this will only work if the paint is non-staining. I like how the pencil line helps define the inside edge of the pan.

In search of Spring 

More snow fell outside, but these tulips helped to keep the promise of spring alive.


Lesson learned: dark yellow (the shadow side of a yellow flower) is hard to convey without creating a muddy look. I want to learn… a book on botanical watercolour did not include any yellow flowers, so I need to research this.

Imitation as flattery 

I have been looking for the type of plant Wil Freeborn sketched in lesson 2 of his book, but without success. So I decided just to do a sketch that copies how example in the book. Figures, today I was at my local favourite coffee/lunch spot and the centrepiece was one of these plants. I’ll have to go back and sketch it.

But, the point of this exercise was actually choosing a background. So here is my attempt and the actual book.


Lessons learned: I prefer textured watercolour paper to the paper in this sketchbook; I now have a sense of how professional quality paint differs from “student” quality. I find it easier to lift the colour to create small highlights.