Watercolor Sketching at the Kitchen Counter (and Art Links for you)

a still life in watercolor with a hanging vase of flowers, near a window looking towards a neighboring house

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Consider Brevity – Short Painting Sessions After Dinner

I’m much obliged this week so this is brief; I have a watercolor sketch, a few great links for you, and a question too.

This is a kitchen counter watercolor sketch (above). I painted incrementally, after dinner, over a few nights, at the kitchen counter. Have you tried working small, in bite-sized sessions after dinner? It’s the BEST way to wind down a day.

The scene is a corner in my kitchen, with alstroemeria in the sunshine, and my neighbor’s adorable red house playing hide and seek with the flowers around the window-frame.

An ipad with a reference photo, a 6x8 inch watercolor sketch in early layers, a travel palette of watercolors, a rinse cup and a paint brush
Using a photo on my ipad as fodder for the beginnings of a quick sketch on the kitchen counter after dinner. This is a simple set up: paper (this watercolor block), watercolors (this travel palette), a few brushes and rinse water. You’ve got that, right?

Press the Refresh Button

It’s April already, and by now, resolutions for your increased creative output may have rolled into next week and next month by encroaching events on the calendar. Yes? I feel your pain(t).

But really, let’s yank that goal back into focus, because painting watercolors is important. We need the practice, and the respite that comes with making art. It’s not too late.

Have you tried painting small, and in mini-sessions? That’s what this painting is – an incremental watercolor. Small scale, on a watercolor block, with a tiny travel palette and a plastic rinse cup, at the kitchen counter. I worked for about thirty minutes over a couple of evenings after dinner.

A watercolor sketch on a kitchen counter next to a small travel palette, a rinse cup for the paint, a brush and an empty glass of wine
Another evening at the counter… Being careful not to confuse the rinse water with the glass of wine.
Watercolor Sketching in a watercolor sketchbook

Feast Your Eyes – Start Your Engines

  • If you enjoy classical realism, and you’re interested in the art emerging from new painters around the world, the Art Renewal Center is a place to browse. Their Annual Salon is a Who’s Who of exceptional artists. Browse all the categories – Painting, Drawing, Sculpture, Figurative, Landscape, Plien Air, and Still Life. You’ll find a comprehensive list in the side bar. It’s a feast for your eyes.
  • Textile artist Joseph Pitcher has written tips to start your engine, and his message is spot on. If you need a dose of Refresh on your creative endeavor plans, read this.
A watercolor sketch of a kitchen counter
Working on watercolor paintings based on snapshots of my kitchen on a sunny day, with reflections of the sky on the counter.

Get Back to Making Watercolors

If this year of staying home has been a fender-bender in your art-making process, here is some reading to jump-start you back to making watercolors again.

Working small, practicing the translation of value studies in watercolor sketches

A Watercolor Painting Question

If you paint with watercolor, would a video course on using a grid system to get your drawing done more accuratley as a map underneath your painting be helpful to you?

I’d like to build a course on how to use a simplified grid system, to show the way it helps structure a watercolor painting from the beginning.

Using a grid also helps organize the painting part of the process by fencing out distractions, and I can demonstrates that in a still life painting in a video course. Please share your ideas and insights about a new course in the comments.

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


P.S. Watercolor painter Shari Blaukopf has a series of courses available at very reasonable prices, and this one is about Sketching with Luminous Color in Watercolors.

a watercolor of flowers by a window and part of a neighboring house by belinda delpesco
Hide and Seek, 6×8 inch watercolor sketch (available here)
Watercolor Sketch in a watercolor sketchbook

Art Quote

Every hour spent in drawing was an hour given to a sacred task. An artist knows he must give his whole self to his art. This is his morality, and though in sinning against it, he may appear virtuous in the world’s eyes, he knows better. ‘He was too lazy to write a sonnet, so he made a revolution.’ Happily a full day’s work brings back self-respect.

William Rothenstein
Watercolor sketching at the kitchen counter
Here is a free download all about watercolor paper

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16 thoughts on “Watercolor Sketching at the Kitchen Counter (and Art Links for you)”

  1. Susan Pickens

    Hi Belinda, I’ve recently discovered that setting up a tray with the smaller painting kit and moving it to my recliner side table takes care of TV commercial time. Don’t need the grid demonstration, but sure could use handling the distortions from photos i.e.: discussions/ demos.
    Thank you for all your teaching. I’ve done enough to know how much back work it takes.
    Sincerely, Susan Pickens

    1. Hi Susan, Your tray near the comfy-chair is a grand idea. It’s amazing how much art you can dive into in one evening! Thanks for the feedback on the grid course. The repair of distortions will be part of the video course. Straightening windows and doorway edges in the background, etc. In the meantime, use a ruler as you’re laying in your grid drawing to “check” all your drawn straight edges to be sure they don’t curve or veer off at the ends.Thanks for your compliments…. 🙂

  2. Donna Thibodeau

    This blog will take me forever to read but thanks for the links. I bought Blaukopf’s snow painting class and enjoyed it. Key to me is price since I am thrifty. I even bought her class on sale which convinced me. I now own the class so I can review again it next winter. I think she has been successful with her video classes so that should encourage you. I also bought her classes from Craftsy which is where I was introduced to her style. The grid idea sounds interesting. I am interested in how it is helpful doing plein air from life. Is it used just on photos? I have used your idea to fold the photo and use the fold lines for the grid. Painting outside from life is difficult doing editing for a successful painting.

    1. Hi Donna,
      It sounds like you are a seasoned Sheri Blaukopf enthusiast, just like me! I think the first class I ever bought from her offerings was on Craftsy, quite awhile ago. She’s a good teacher. Grid drawing works best from photos, but you can use a grid viewer outdoors to help with breaking down a scene into smaller parts, and placement of shapes on your canvas or paper (like this https://amzn.to/3dTftOe). I’m glad you’re using the folded reference material as a grid. I think it’s a quick solution, when we want to be drawing and not measuring. 🙂

  3. Thank you, thank you!! I so look forward to your blogs and go back to them often! I work with clay and have been fascinated with local clays, mixing them to make watercolors and printmaking inks! More ideas than time; most interested in process. Not as much time and off in too many directions at times, but that’s ok! Namaste, Belinda! Mair

    1. Hi Mair, Too many ideas, not enough time! We are in harmony on that one! Your natural clay pigment paintings and printmaking projects sound fun. And thanks for the compliment on the content of these missives… I’m so glad they resonate with you.

  4. Deelishus and inspiring post! Just love your after dinner quick paintings, each one is a gem! xxx

    1. Hi Corinne – Yes the grid drawing method is super useful. It works better for some than others – depending on how your brain translates shapes. If you’re distracted, and focus is difficult (I have my hadn’t up), a grid system helps break shapes down into smaller parts, and it forces you to look at them one at a time, rather than feeling overwhelmed by all the chatter of Every Shape all at Once.

  5. Shirley Learner

    Wonderful idea of doing small paintings quickly and without stress. Thank you for the watercolour paper guide too. Shirley

  6. Hi Mary! Welcome, and huge thanks for your lovely compliments, and your excellent feedback! High five to you for mentoring adults back to the joy of making things with their hands! What a wonderful and rewarding stewardship; I bet the attendees of your class are bright with the smile-of-discovery after they get art supplies moving with your guidance. Bravo to you! I really appreciate your time to relay wishes on future online class curriculum. I’ve entered your watercolor paper primer on the list. In the meantime, have you downloaded the three-page watercolor paper intro (free) I posted? Click here for it.

  7. Hi Dorothy, I moved twice since becoming a full time artist, and it was more challenging than I ever expected, both times. I’m sending you an understanding head nod, with an Uh-huhmm. You know that first morning in a new house, standing in the kitchen, intending to make a cup of coffee, and you have no idea where the filters are? And did anyone unpack the mugs? And did we have the gas to the stove connected? By the time you get to the third unknown, you throw in the towel and go to Starbucks.
    I feel like painting in a new studio requires a little forced time at the art-table on a regular basis at the start. The muscle memory of where your stuff is, and the best light during the day, and where you sit or stand to work has to be established. If art-making is a refuge for you, but your new space hasn’t been broken in yet – all time there will be an exercise in search & rescue of where everything got stored, with little room for deep creating. If you’ve already tried forcing yourself to work, how about hosting a once a week art session with a handful of like minded friends?

  8. Hi Nancy,
    I have my hand up if you’re taking attendance for the watercolor foliage noodlers. Picture my left hand gripping my right hand, ardently pulling the brush away from the greens to save the pigments from my urge to fuss with them. Yep… that’s me. But I shall endeavor to get better at leaving the pigments to swim on their own, without my prodding. High five to you to match our efforts. 🙂

  9. Hi Margaret, There are watercolors, but not many. The ARC’s mission is here: https://www.artrenewal.org/AboutUs/MissionStatement and there is no mention of, or evidence toward a media-bias. Skill and style, but not media. Perhaps the issue is with us? How many watercolorists working in classical realism are submitting work to ARC? I know of 2-4, but no more, even though I know of many whose work would fit in nicely. What do you think the issue is?

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