sketchbook - pen and watercolor sketches from Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan

Watercolor sketches from Baking Chez Moi

One of the (many) projects I’m working on is to make watercolor sketches from the beautiful, mouth-watering photos in the book Baking Chez Moi: Recipes from My Paris Home to Your Home Anywhere by Dorie Greenspan.

Since I love baking, and sometimes struggle with deciding on what to sketch, I thought this would be a great subject. There are a few skills I’d like to improve by doing this project:

  • more accuracy with contour line drawings, without getting bogged down in making it look photo-realistic
  • drawing more quickly
  • getting comfortable adding watercolor wash
  • hand lettering

sketchbook - pen and watercolor sketches from Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan

After just a few sketches, I’m finding that this is also a good opportunity to practice painting highlights and glass.

I’ve noticed that with this sketchbook (a Stillman & Birn Alpha Series book), when I apply watercolor washes to one side of the paper, the other side becomes very difficult to draw on. On one hand, I don’t want to leave pages blank, but on the other hand I don’t want to fight with my pens on the paper. I also find myself wanting to primarily draw on the right page rather than the left. I may try just doing a drawing on the right side of the spread, using the left side for little details or quick sketching.

sketchbook - ink and watercolor wash sketch of a vase of flowers

Loose and sketchy watercolor flowers

After watching a recent Draw Tip Tuesday video on pen control, I was inspired to draw a vase of flowers by loosely holding the pen at the end away from the tip.

sketchbook - ink and watercolor wash sketch of a vase of flowers

I started the sketch by roughly doing a single-line contour drawing, lifting the pen only a few times to reset. I knew I was going to go over with a wash of watercolor, so I focused more on suggesting the foliage instead of carefully drawing every item. And instead of obsessing over making the roses look like literal roses, I made swirly ends to suggest the petals.

I’m happily surprised how this loose approach worked! I think the swirly roses read better as roses than when I tried to draw each petal step by step in another sketch.

For the watercolor wash, I also kept it loose and rough. My main goal was to get a good range of greens, from bright yellow-greens to deep brown-greens. I added some splatter to amplify the sketchy quality.

Tools

  • Uniball Vision Fine black ink pen
  • watercolors
  • watercolor brush
  • Pentel Aquash Water Brush
  • stencil brush (for splatter)