Bush Pasture Park

Bush Pasture park

I went for a walk in Bush Pasture park today. I wanted to try using my iPod Touch to make a value sketch before starting a watercolor. I sat on a concrete bench and did the value sketch first. Then I took a reference photo and used the PhotoFX app to generate a charcoal sketch version to see the photo in black and white (like a value sketch). Finally I sketched in my Moleskine with a Pilot FriXion 0.5 erasable pen. Then while checking the value sketch on the iPod, I used watercolor to sketch in the colors and values. Here’s a slideshow of the four together.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

By doing the value sketch first it helped me to see the areas of light and shade. I need to make my darks darker and remember not to use Burnt Umber in the dark greens (Payne’s Gray works better – doesn’t look so muddy).


Minto Island Walk

Today was another beautiful day. I went for a walk  in Minto Island park out South River Road. I stopped after about a half hour to sketch a stand of trees.

Minto Island Trees Watercolor

Minto Island Trees Watercolor

On the walk back, I stopped on a bridge. As I stood there a kayaker passed under the bridge heading north. I sketched him in quickly and then completed the rest of the sketch.

Minto Island Kayak Watercolor

Minto Island Kayak Watercolor

Here’s the full spread of my 5 X 8 inch Moleskine watercolor notebook.

Minto Island Watercolor Notebook

Minto Island Watercolor Notebook

I did both sketches standing up in the shade. I painted the trees resting the notebook on my bag which was hanging around my neck in front of me. For the second one I placed the notebook on the top rail of the bridge. After I finished each sketch (which took about 10 to 15 minutes each), I took a reference photo with my iPod Touch.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Schreiner’s Iris Garden

We had beautiful weather yesterday. We visited the iris garden north of us which was in full bloom. I brought my small sketchbook and decided to try several small sketches instead of one larger one. These were quick color impressions.



Here is a gallery.

Minto Island Park


First day of summer. 80 degrees. I went for a walk in Minto Island park which is only 5 minutes from downtown Salem. Most people come here to walk their dogs. I sat down for a bite to eat at a picnic table and did this sketch.

When I was done I took this reference photo.


Strathmore Visual Journal 5.5 X 8 inches, pencil, Lucas watercolors.


Iris Garden


It was a beautiful day today. I drove over to the Schreiner’s Iris Gardens in Keizer. I walked around and took a few pictures. Then I sat down and did this sketch in watercolor. I painted areas of color first and then I drew some outlines in pencil.


This is what was in front of me and also a general view of the gardens.

Strathmore 5.5 x 8 inch Visual Journal, Lucas watercolors – Cobalt Blue, Lemon Yellow, Alizarin Crimson, Sap Green, and Payne’s Gray, and pencil.


Parlor Car


Painted this on the moving train on my way back from my California trip. I was sitting in the parlor car. I did a very loose sketch in pen first. Then I added watercolor.

Here’s the pen sketch and a reference photo I took with my iPad.


Moleskine watercolor journal, Noodler’s Ink flex nib pen with Noodler’s Bulletproof Black ink, Lucas watercolors.

On the Train

I painted this while on the train going down to visit my Dad and brother. I had a small compartment. This is the seat across from me. 

It was hard to draw and paint on a moving train. Lettering is even harder. This will remind me of the bumpy ride on Amtrak.

Moleskine watercolor journal, Noodler’s Ink Flex pen with Noodler’s Bulletproof Black ink, Lucas watercolors – Prussian Blue, Payne’s Grey, Cadmium Red medium, Lemon Yellow, and Burnt Sienna.


The Woods


Experimented today painting watercolor with a palette knife. I tried a variety of methods and marks. I used the flat back of the knife to spread paint into a wet surface and smear it around. I also tried making very narrow marks with the edge of the knife working up and down. Then I put paint on the edge of the knife and moved from left to right dragging a swath of paint. I also used the edge to drag wet color up and out to paint grass.

Strathmore Watercolor series 400, 5.5 x 8.5 inches, palette knife, Lucas tube paints – Burnt Umber, Ultramarine Blue, Viridian, Payne’s Grey, Lemon Yellow.

Willamette Heritage Center


Today is Tuesday and admission is free at the Willamette Heritage Center at the Mill across the street from Willamette University. This is a great place to sketch and paint. I sat on a bench overlooking the mill stream. This is the back of the entrance building.

I took a reference photo with my iPad (but I didn’t use it while I painted). Here it is for comparison.


Moleskine watercolor 5.5 x 8 inch journal, pencil sketch first, then watercolor (Lucas tube paints – Cobalt Blue, Lemon Yellow, Burnt Sienna, Payne’s Grey), and finally Micron 02 pen. About an hour and a half, 2:30 to 4 in the afternoon.

Backyard Spring


We had a beautiful 80 degree day – the first in 2012. I painted this sitting on our back porch. It was late in the day and the light was changing fast.

I drew the scene in pencil first. I attempted to get the relative sizes and placement right by using the central post as a  unit of measure. I used my pencil at arm’s length to measure the post’s height and then I used that unit to measure everything else. The last post in the row is one unit to the left and is 1/2 the height. The fir tree is one unit to the right, etc. I also tried to get the perspective right. I drew in the vanishing point lines and then the posts.

I then added the watercolor starting with light green and light brown. I worked my way up the values. Finally, the last thing I did was to use a Pentel Presto correction pen to add the white dots. Total time was around 1 1/2 hours.

The next day we had similar lighting so I took a reference photo.


Here’s the two page layout of notes and painting from my journal.


Moleskine watercolor journal, pencil, Lucas watercolors – Light Yellow, Cobalt Blue, Alizarin Crimson, Burnt Sienna, Payne’s Grey, Pentel Presto correction pen.

Hero M86 Pen


I’m trying out the Hero M86 pen today as a sketching pen. It can make a variable width line depending on how you hold it. A steep angle makes a very thin line. A low angle makes a thick line. This is because the nib has a unique swoop on the end of it.

I bought the pen for $10 ($6 shipping) from isellpens.com. It’s made in China. It’s a remakable pen for $10 – well made, heavy, and comes with a piston feed, but it also can use cartidges. I filled it with Noodler’s Bulletproof Black ink. It flows very nicely unless you let it sit unused for several days. You can easily get it started again by dipping the nib in water.

It takes some practice to draw with this pen as you have to change the angle as you draw to vary the line width. This takes some getting used to, but I like it. One refillable pen gives me unlimited line width.

I did this sketch standing in the greenhouse. Total time was less than 20 minutes. Later I added the sketch of the pen and it’s nib.

Here’s a cellphone photo of the plant. I took it after I was done sketching.


And here’s my two page journal spread with my notes.


Moleskine watercolor journal, Hero M86 pen with Noodler’s Bulletproof Black ink, Lucas tube watercolors – Light Yellow, Cobalt Blue, Alizarin Crimson, Burnt Sienna, Payne’s Grey.


Another Greenhouse Sketch


Pen first, then watercolor. This was a self assignment. I wanted to sketch in pen without doing any pre-planning or pencil layout first. Just draw what’s in front of you with no photo reference. Jump right in, start drawing in pen, and fill the page. So, that’s what I did. I started with the large redwood container in the lower left corner, worked my way up the left hand side of the page and then across to the table leg in the center and down to the pots. I then sketched the ladder, the window, the items on top of the table, and then the watering can in the lower right corner and the rest of the items on the right.

Once the pen work ws done, I painted with watercolors. I started with the light greens and then the browns. I then did the dark areas to judge the contrast range and then the grey ladder and concrete floor. All this was done with a flat waterbrush. I then switched to a small round waterbrush to add the reds, do some touch up, and finish some detail. It took about an hour.

Here’s a photo of what I saw.


And here’s my journal with my notes.


I think I did a pretty good job of capturing the scene. I got the values and colors, major shapes and perspective right. I purposely picked a chaotic subject with lots of detail. I drew one thing at a time paying attention to angles and relative sizes and then I moved on to the next shape until I reached the edge of the page. I was surprised to discover when I finished the drawing that it turned out as well as it did.

Moleskine watercolor journal, Mars 500 pen (0.5 nib) with Noodler’s Bulletproof Black ink , Lucas tube paints – Alizarin Crimson, Cobalt Blue, Light Yellow, Sap Green, Burnt Sienna, and Payne’s Grey.


Thomas Kay Woolen Mill


The Thomas Kay Mill was one of the last water driven mills in Oregon. It is now a museum.

Trying pen and watercolor in my journal. I worked from a reference photo I took last summer.


I used my iPad to reverse the photo and change it to black and white and size it for my journal.


I then traced the image onto tracing paper with a soft pencil and transferred it to my journal by rubbing the back of the tracing with the smooth round end of a pen. This transferred the pencil marks to the page.

Next I used a Micron 02 pen to create a pen and ink sketch over the tracing and erased the pencil.


About a week later I added watercolor. I looked at the original photo on my iPad as a reference while I painted.

Moleskine watercolor journal, Micron 02 pen, Lucas tube paints – Alizarin Crimson, Cobalt Blue, Light Yellow, Sap Green, Burnt Sienna, Viridian, Paynes Grey.