Daily art – a sketchy little birdy

from Instagram: The dip pen takes awhile to dry on hot press watercolor paper, but I love the fine details that can be made with it.⠀
#sketch #watercolor #inkandwatercolor #drawing #draw #drawingoftheday #dippen #bird #illustration #hotpress #danielsmith http://ift.tt/2jIklcr
little ink and watercolor sketches of potted succulents

Sketches of potted succulents

During my daily drawing practice I discovered how fun it is draw little sketches of potted succulents, especially with a dip pen. I like using this subject as a way to explore hatching with the dip pen. It has a really satisfying scratching quality on the paper.

desert plant drawings from sketchbook

Adding quick watercolor washes to these little sketches helps them look more fun and colorful.

little ink and watercolor sketches of potted succulents


  • dip pen with 512 Speedball nib
  • India ink
  • watercolors
ink and watercolor flora from the Redwood forest 4

Watercolor and ink flora of the Redwood forest

Our summer vacation amongst the Redwoods gave me much-appreciated space and time to play with watercolors. I could have sat for hours and hours experimenting with color blending. Actually, I guess I did sit for hours and hours doing just that. It was interesting to get familiar with the feeling of different blending techniques, and by the time I was working on the final plant drawing in this set, I felt like it was clicking more.

I like the bold, graphic quality of first drawing with a black ink pen (the Rapidograph in this case) and then filling in with watercolor.

ink and watercolor flora from the Redwood forest 2 ink and watercolor flora from the Redwood forest 3 ink and watercolor flora from the Redwood forestink and watercolor flora from the Redwood forest 4


  • Tube watercolors
  • Size 4 brush
  • Rapidograph pen filled with india ink
daily drawings from summer 2016 vacation at a cabin in northern CA

Daily drawings from summer vacation 2016

For years, I’ve set occasional intentions to draw more but have never stuck with it (see: drawing cute animals from… several years ago). I tend to put too much pressure on it, believing that the drawings needed to be more significant, polished, or special than I could maintain. I also just thought I wasn’t good enough at it.

So when I watched Kate Bingaman-Burt’s Skillshare class Drawing Collections: Illustrating Stories through Taxonomies I was filled with relief, enthusiasm, and inspiration. It doesn’t have to be a high-pressure activity! Kate’s easy, relaxed approach to drawing was like a breath of fresh air. It’s easy to look at the collected works of an artist and think “Oh, I’ll never have that many drawings” or “I’m not that good, so why bother” or “I don’t have good ideas like other artists”. But she helped me see that collections of drawings don’t happen all at once — they build up over time. The way you get good at something is to practice, practice, practice. And a drawing can be of anything — ANYTHING! She’s a great example of how stories can be told through the most ordinary objects.

So I finally started doing daily drawings. I hope I don’t fizzle out on it any time soon.

While on our recent summer vacation (a week in a cabin in the California Redwoods), I took the opportunity to document (journal with drawings, really) some of the things around us. This activity helped me see how much I like my drawings to have context. Adding little blurbs per Kate’s suggestion was one of the keys I had been missing before, and it makes me enjoy the process so much more.

daily drawings from summer 2016 vacation at a cabin in northern CA

The class also made me more aware of the types of drawings and illustrations that I like. I looked back through my Pinterest board of inspiring illustrations and noticed some patterns:

  • handmade, imperfect style
  • groupings/collections of objects
  • ink drawings
  • isolated objects
  • labeling of objects
  • distinct lines, shapes, and patterns as if they are screen prints or cut out of paper (vs. soft or painterly style)

These actually track with what I’ve learned about myself (through taking personality tests — I never met a personality test I didn’t like!) over the years:

  • I love to collect and archive all kinds of information
  • my desire to learn and improve
  • intellectual things are important to me
  • I’m analytical, objective, methodical, and detail-oriented
  • I just want things to make sense!

For now, I’m sketching first in pencil, and then I go over the lines with a Rapidograph pen filled with black ink (except for one day where I forgot and grabbed a Micron instead — which wasn’t nearly as dark as the india ink) and erase the ink. Sometimes I don’t wait long enough for the ink to dry before I erase and the ink smudges. Sometimes I add some watercolor or india ink wash. And sometimes I need to remind myself that it’s about having fun and exploring and not perfection.


  • Rapidograph pen filled with india ink
  • Micron 05 pen
  • tube watercolors
  • size 4 watercolor brush
  • pencil and white plastic eraser


all over ink pattern with Redwood forest flora

All-over pattern ink drawing of Redwood flora

During our summer vacation, I made a collection of drawings inspired by the flora around our rental cabin in the northern California Redwood forest. So, inspired by the all-over pattern project from the Skillshare class Drawing pens: make it simple, I drew my own version since the first time I mimicked the instructor’s version.

all over ink pattern with Redwood forest flora


  • Micron pen
  • Rapidograph pen filled with india ink
  • Paper Mate Flair colored felt tip pens
allover flora pattern ink pen drawing

Simple ink drawings from Skillshare class

From my homework for the Drawing pens: make it simple class on Skillshare:

  1. My blush and brush, with one of my handcrafted Pocket Critter dog toys (I seriously struggled with the composition here!)

objects from around the house drawn with ink pen

2. A flora wreath with hand-lettered word in the middle (I copied the instructor’s design for this one)

flora wreath ink pen drawing

3. All-over flora pattern with some spots of color (I pretty much mimicked the instructor’s illustration here as well)

allover flora pattern ink pen drawing


  • Rapidograph pen filled with india ink
  • Micron pens
  • red Stabilo fine point felt tip pen
hand lettering of Bosco using watercolor and a water brush

Practicing waterbrush lettering

I’m binge-watching lettering classes on Skillshare and two that I love are Waterbrush Lettering Essentials and Bounce Letters: Adding Character to your Hand Lettering with Teela Cunningham. To practice these skills, I’m writing Bosco’s name…over and over and over.

hand lettering of Bosco using ink in a water brush
Using slightly watered down india ink in a medium Pentel Aquash water brush
hand lettering of Bosco using watercolor and a water brush
Using the Aquash water brush filled with water and dipping into tube watercolors
practicing my bounce letters and drawing Boscos name
practicing my bounce letters


  • medium Pentel Aquash water brush
  • india ink
  • tube watercolor
  • pencil