Watercolor: Cruising California Rt 126 and Inspired by Sketch Artists

california state route 126
Cruising California Rt 126 6×6 watercolor on board (sold)

How Many Times a Week Do You Sketch?

Hi y’all, I’ve got some sketch artists for you, to help propel your drawing and doodling inspiration. Do you want to draw and sketch more often? (I mentioned this goal in a previous post here.)  I’ve been trying to sketch in the evenings – whether I’m sitting with my Mister, or in a gaggle of friends and family sprawled on someone’s couch. Arm yourself with a two-ingredient plan;  a pencil and a sketchpad.  Draw what’s in front of you, or tuck a few reference photos into your sketchpad.  You can still chat and listen while your pencil is moving. I speak the truth here – try it before you wave a hand of dismissal and mutter “I can’t do that….”. Yes, my friend, yes you can. You and I will divide and conquer!

drawing with a grid method
Transferring a drawing using a Grid; sketch one little square at a time 🙂 The finished painting is here.

Take it a Step Further

If you want to develop your book full of sketches into something more “finished”, snap a cell phone shot of the scene you’re sketching. Back in the studio, use your snapshot with your sketch to create a fully rendered painting.  If you don’t want to draw the scene in front of you, sketch a houseplant. Or your feet.  Or the folks sitting next to you.  I often carry a reference photo to transfer a drawing to larger paper for a watercolor using the grid method.  Over the course of two or three evenings, I have a full drawing ready to paint.

sketching practice
Sketching on a pillow in my lap on a plane with a reference photo of my grandmother’s house in Santa Monica in the 1950’s.

Watch Drawing Tutorials for Instruction

If you’re not sure where to start, check out one of the thousands of free tutorials about drawing on Youtube. The video below is a nice overview of tools and techniques by artist J.D. Hillberry to help you transfer reference photos to drawings more accurately.

Be Inspired

Here are some amazing artists who sketch and share their work with us fortunate looky-loos. Peruse their blogs and be inspired by their prolific work, and grateful they are brave enough to put it out there for us to fawn over. These good folks sketch constantly, and every one of them is an excellent role model to the rest of us. Add your favorite artist links in the comments, because one can never have enough artists to be inspired by. #artisthoarding

Ian Sidaway

Liz Steel

Roz Stendahl

Marc Taro Holmes

Danny Gregory

Shari Blaukopf

Paul Heaston

Set Goals

Are there artists you admire and wish you could emulate? Do you look at their work, study their approach, stock your studio with the same supplies they use, and wish like mad you could create the beauty they seem to render with ease? The thing that impacts me when studying my favorite artists is their conviction to practice. We see their finished products, and fantasize about their effortless output. But it’s never easy. Great artists sweat for their art. Practice is the main ingredient of Mastery. Watch this 13 minute time lapse video of David Jamieson doing a pencil portrait from life, and you’ll see that he makes thousands of tiny adjustments. That’s a testament to time invested in practice and learning; how to see, how to measure, how to soften, how to render skin, accurate values, likeness and on and on…

Let Go of Embarrassment

Grab your sketchbook. And don’t judge. Also, quit worrying about what others will think. Fire your inner critic. Stuff a sock in it’s mouth and start drawing. Each trip around the sun is filled with laundry to fold, bills to pay and work project deadlines… make a little room in the evenings for you, yourself and your pencil. Just DRAW. Even if every line just suuuuucks, take a deep breath, turn the page, and draw again, and again, and again. Keep drawing.

I’m raising my iced coffee in your direction: Here’s to your uncluttered, reserved, and steadfast path of Practice, Patience, Earnest Seeing and a thousand small repairs along the way. Sketching regularly is the foundation of all good art, so let’s get started, shall we? Who’s in?

Thanks for visiting today, and I’ll see you in the next post!


P.S. You can subscribe to get each blog post via email by signing up here.


Art Quote
I’ve never done a perfect drawing. The cheapest camera installed at the gas station parking lot will collect a more accurate depiction that I can make. I think of Art like I think about baseball. Whether you win or lose – isn’t it great to be playing baseball?! Even the best players only get on base one third of the time. The reason we’re doing this is that as kids, we started drawing and felt happy. So now, we should still be happy doing it. The focus should be on the love of art-making. Joy is in the full deployment of our faculties.
Anthony Ryder ~ 2010 during a Drawing demo

Click the rinse water to sign up for a free watercolor paper primer download

7 thoughts on “Watercolor: Cruising California Rt 126 and Inspired by Sketch Artists”

  1. Mary Ellen Gale

    Been in Sketchbook Skool for quite awhile and had begun to get lazy with my daily drawing. Thanks for the nudge. BTW, I was on YOUR blog looking for inspiration to start my next watercolor. In school this semester and have to produce 3 paintings a week.

    1. Whoah, You’re on FIRE! A class, in person and another online?! That’s GUSTO, my friend. Have at it, with all your Super Star Might, and make beautiful things for this bumpy, scuffed, trodden, divided world. We need it. <3 xo

  2. Thanks for the nudge, I’ve been wanting to draw the lines of my sailboat for sometime. Your push has convinced me to do it. A product will follow.


    1. Hi BMC, I’m happy to read this! I look forward to seeing BW’s lines in pigment as soon as you’re ready to share her! Happy sketching to you! (Remember: if all else fails, there’s nothing wrong with tracing from a photo.)

  3. Pingback: Watercolor: Marigold Eruption and a video on John Singer Sargent - Belinda Del Pesco

Write something.... pretend we're neighbors, and we’re painting watercolors together in the garden....