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Breathing Room on the Page (or Page Spread)

One of the most important compositional tools you have in a visual journal or sketchbook is the breathing space on the page (or page spread).  The negative space around an image helps define the image through silhouette, and shape recognition. The space will help you correct angles and proportions when you go off—or— if you […]

Detail of the painting so you can see the brush pen sketch lines and the thickness of the watercolor I was using in an opaque manner.

Sketching on Any Old Paper You Have At Hand

Sometimes we can get into our heads. We can spend time telling ourselves all the reasons we can’t take time right now and paint.  As a teacher for over 30 years I think I’ve heard every excuse there is: no space to set up, don’t have the materials I want to work with; I don’t […]

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Another Sort of Selfie—The Doodle Selfie

  This is a late-night doodle, which is also a selfie… It’s on Fabriano Hot Press watercolor paper that I made into a hand-bound book. After midnight my spelling is questionable, though at least I still usually question it.

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Journal Practice Hiccups?

  I always tell people any day is a great day to start a journal practice. Start.  But I know that many people think it important to have a milestone day like the first of the year for a starting point. If it gets them to start then I’m all for that. As a new […]

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Less Is Often More

So the other day I was writing about being fussy. Sometimes I’m the exact opposite and do as little as possible. Today’s image is an example of that. There can be something very satisfying in not delving into layers of details, and in coming up with pigment choices that leave much of the surface unpainted. […]

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A Watercolor Sketch of Alun Armstrong

Alun Armstrong’s character in “New Tricks” wears a knitted watch cap in many episodes. And so in March 2021 when I was sketching him every day I ended up sketching him in such a cap quite a lot. That’s fine because I think it’s fun to sketch knitted textures.  Here is the sketch before I […]

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Another Dog Portrait…

As we leave July and my Patreon discussions about dog portraits I simply wanted to make a case, through one more portrait, about contrast. It’s vital, it draws the eye, it’s fun to build up.  Here’s a sketch from 2018. I liked the textures (and suggested textures) so much that all I wanted was a […]

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The Case for Not Finishing a Sketch

I’m the first person to encourage people to finish what they start. In fact I encourage people to push past the point where they think they have finished, because until you “break” a few sketches you don’t really know where that point of finish resides. But I also wanted to put a word in today […]

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Annals of Downsizing: Why Not Fold Some Paper?

I’ve got 10,000 things to do, but why not fold 800 sheets of paper? While clearing out my storage room I found a box of pre-cut 17 x 11 inch paper with the grain running with the 11 inch side. I had it cut years ago to use for printing some zines I was making. […]

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In Context—Playing Catch Up

  I’ve been offline for five days and it seems like I’ve forgotten everything about the computer and the programs I work in. I’m playing catch-up and a post here was on the top of the list. It has been a difficult month physically for me: increased vision difficulties and a back spasm that made […]

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