Sketching Landscapes in Pen, Ink & Watercolor with Shari Blaukop

Sketching Landscapes in Pen, Ink & Watercolor class

I bought this class taught by Shari Blaukopf several months ago, along with her other class “Sketching the City in Pen, Ink & Watercolor”. Watching the classes was inspiring, but also a little intimidating. I kept feeling like I wouldn’t be able to make my sketches look as good as I wanted. And it felt like I would know how to do the techniques just by watching, not necessarily doing them myself. (Wrong!)

But motivated to take my skills up a notch, I finally jumped in and sketched along with her all the way through. And I’m so glad I did! Shari has lots of great tips throughout the class, and actually following along makes things stick better. Instead of completing the lessons as she assigns, I chose to mimic what she’s sketching and painting in class.

In the months since I bought the class, I became more and more drawn to Shari’s style. I particularly like the dappled brush strokes that make her work recognizable, and how her work looks accurately representational yet relaxed and loose. Watching her work and talk her way through her process was very helpful — it took some of the mystery out of it and made it more approachable and methodical than seeming like pure magic. She’s a great instructor!

My sketches

I’m on the hunt for a sketchbook and paper that will work best for me, so these lessons were done on a variety of papers to test things out. The morning sky, neutral sky, and fluffy clouds are on Fabriano Artistico 140lb cold press natural white and the stormy sky is on Fabriano Artistico hot press white (folded from large sheets into journals using these instructions). The Flatirons sketch is in a Stillman & Birn Beta Series sketchbook.

Sketching Landscapes in Pen, Ink & Watercolor with Shari Blaukopf - morning sky

Morning sky, with additional textures for trees

Sketching Landscapes in Pen, Ink & Watercolor with Shari Blaukopf - neutral sky

Neutral sky with ink and dry brush textures

Sketching Landscapes in Pen, Ink & Watercolor with Shari Blaukopf - fluffy clouds

Fluffy clouds with watercolor textures from other lessons

Sketching Landscapes in Pen, Ink & Watercolor with Shari Blaukopf - stormy sky

Stormy sky with detailed tree

Sketching Landscapes in Pen, Ink & Watercolor with Shari Blaukopf - Flatirons sketch

Thumbnail sketches, value study, and watercolor sketch of the Flatirons in Boulder, Colorado

Sketching Landscapes in Pen, Ink & Watercolor with Shari Blaukop

I can see that in my main Flatirons project, I went too dark with the first big shapes layer, making the mid tone layers hard to distinguish and the darkest layers too dark and muddied. I’m still working on my techniques for layering color, leaving white areas, and nailing values.

This class is fantastic just to watch Shari work, but even better when you do the exercises yourself. I highly recommend it for developing ink and watercolor sketching skills!

LINKS

TOOLS & SUPPLIES

  • Lamy Safari fountain pen with EF nib
  • Black De Atramentis Document Ink
  • watercolors (mostly Daniel Smith)
  • watercolor brushes (Escoda Versatil travel brushes sizes 4, 6, 8; Master’s Touch round size 24; Princeton Neptune size 10)
  • 5.5×8.5 Stillman & Birn Beta Series sketchbook
  • Fabriano Artistico 140lb cold press watercolor paper in natural white
  • Fabriano Artistico hot press watercolor paper in white
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Daily art – watercolor floral arrangement

from Instagram: Since it’s December I chose a winter flower arrangement as the inspiration this one. Some of the lines got a little heavy but I love the color blending from the wet on wet painting! I also love this paper so much better than others I’ve used ❤️ #watercolor #fabrianopaper #watercolorflorals #wintermood #skillshare @watercolordevo
ink and watercolor wash - box of colorful macarons

Painting highlights with watercolors

I’m working on finding a good balance of painted areas and unpainted areas with my ink and watercolor sketches. It’s becoming more clear that in order to achieve a sketch that has a fresh and spontaneous quality to it, it takes more white areas than what strictly looks like a highlight.

With this box of macarons drawn from a photo, I kept the bright areas of the macarons unpainted. The liner in the box that they’re packaged in got a very light wash of color in the bright areas.

Another skill I’m working on improving is the shape of color the brush lays down next to the white areas. I feel like I’m getting closer, but the strokes seem a little self-conscious to me.

Another thing I did with this sketch was to paint the darker areas of the macarons with a deeper shade of the color, not a neutral grey as with a drop shadow. I love the way that technique makes the macarons so interesting to look at and dimensional.

ink and watercolor wash - box of colorful macarons

Painting Watercolors (First Steps) by Cathy Johnson - moving water exercise

Watercolor lessons from Cathy Johnson

Part of learning how to paint with watercolors is about just doing it and getting familiar with the tools, but I also love learning from experts. I treated myself to two books (print versions, not Kindle version) by Cathy Johnson — Painting Watercolors (First Steps) and Creating Textures in Watercolor.

Her loose, confident, and sketch-like style is what I’d like to get to with my own skills. By following her examples, I hope to learn what it feels like to emulate her style as a way to develop my own.

Painting Watercolors (First Steps) by Cathy Johnson - moving water exercise

My moving water exercise from Painting Watercolors (First Steps) by Cathy Johnson

One thing I’m struggling with is being patient enough to let the layers dry before adding details on top of them. I keep ending up with a mushed-together blob like in the dark areas below.

Painting Watercolors (First Steps) by Cathy Johnson - mountains, cliffs and other rock forms exercise

My mountains, cliffs and other rock forms exercise from Painting Watercolors (First Steps) by Cathy Johnson

I love the way my little red building turned out! The wet-in-wet variegated wash was intentional with this one, not the result of rushing layers.

Painting Watercolors (First Steps) by Cathy Johnson - buildings in landscape exercise

My buildings in landscape exercise Painting Watercolors (First Steps) by Cathy Johnson

Apples have become my achilles heel…there’s something about the red color and highlights that is ellusive to me. But the peach and strawberry turned out well. The strawberry was better for me because it has small, controlled highlights. And the peach doesn’t shine and features softly blended shades. Which was totally fun to do.

Creating Textures in Watercolor by Cathy Johnson - fruits

My apples, peach, and strawberry from Creating Textures in Watercolor by Cathy Johnson

For these, I’ve been using Fabriano Artistico 140 lb. cold press watercolor paper in Traditional White. It’s stating the obvious, but the experience of painting on this paper is hugely different from using my Stilman & Birn Alpha Series sketchbook.