Sketchbook Saturday: The Little Hahnemuhle Booklet

For this iteration of Sketchbook Saturday, back after a long holiday break, I dove a bit deeper in the past and selected a little Hahnemuhle watercolor booklet I bought in March 2019 upon deciding I should really get this plein air painting show on the road. It’s compact size and the small box of Van Gogh watercolors would help me get out more while painting at the same time.

It is almost two years ago and my evolution in terms of style and what paints I use is very visible, as well as the time spend on painting something. The paper is not mega absorbent but once you get used to the fact that wet on wet washes is impossible, new doors open. In the end, I churned out Pokémon to just fill up the booklet. I wanted to get it over with, fill a sketchbook completely for the first time in my life. No matter the size, in this sense, this booklet allowed me to fulfill a very old wish of mine and I am grateful for that.

Europe in Watercolor

The hardest things for me when painting or drawing is often to get started and it is often caused by the second hardest thing: figuring out what to draw. Some people fare well with prompt lists such as those from DoodleWash or a writing prompt generator. These lists often confuse me or are conceptual and not only was I unsure what to draw, now I am stumped by some list from the internet as well! As a solution and if I have an idea for it, I will make a list myself that is curated by myself and for myself and that works a lot better.

For the month of February I thought of GeoGuessr and how the site will allow you to select continents and countries to include in your random location drop. This would be perfect for drawing locations without having to go there. As this was in the before times, we also had a trip to Swiss planned for the end of the month that would allow me that country as well. With the huge regional diversity that comes with Europe, a list was made and days were assigned.

Before being halfway in the challenge it became clear that there are only so many country roads that you can look at before giving up. For some countries I used image search to find an interesting thing to draw using a photograph that was not taken using a potato mounted on the roof of a Toyota Prius.

It is all done with Daniel Smith watercolors in a Khadi 100% cotton rag paper sketchbook.

Fruit in watercolor

As a follow up on last weeks post, this is the alternating pages in the month of January 2020.

As with last week, the randomizer gave me more berries than I would need and no banana but not being very fond of bananas to begin with I could not really care but for color variation it would have been nice.

Pokemon in watercolor

It was December 2019 and life was good. I had a stable job, plenty of art supplies and a craving for creation. Big problem: what to draw, what to paint? How to improve my skills as a watercolor artist while at the same time, use some of those juicy, succulent, art goodies?

At the same time my kids were and still are, completely infatuated by Pokémon. As a responsible adult, the appeal completely eludes me and I have never driven around town with one hand on the wheel and the other on my phone playing Ingress, a precursor to Pokémon Go. And there is a slim possibility that at some point in the past, I owned a Nintendo Switch with Pokémon Shield, considering my son had Sword. But otherwise, this was completely about the kids.

So there is it, a simple, colorful and recognizable subject matter that could easily fill a challenge month.

Considering the premise a bit more, drawing Pokémon every day for a month, I decided against it and switched the Pokémon with fruit every day so the gallery here has 16 Pokémon, next week we will have 15 fruits because you know, 31 days in the month of January. The list of which Pokémon and fruit to draw was randomized using a Pokémon randomizer and random fruit list generator which to my surprise both existed. The random nature also explains the really odd choices of Pokémon, some of the participants commented on that.

The best thing about this challenge was the comparison between day 1 and day 31, it is obvious that doing watercolor every day will help out your skills even if the subject is simple such as Pokémon and fruits. All art is in a Khadi rag paper HB5 sketchbook and done using Daniel Smith Watercolors in a custom palette that inspired by Jane Blundells blog.

Beschuit met Muisjes

In the Netherlands when a baby is born, the gleeful parents present visitors who come for the baby “beschuit” covered in sugared aniseed sprinkles “muisjes” that translates to “mice”.

The piece is not dated, but it is likely made around September 2019 and is in my first Illo sketchbook.

Alphabet Sketchbook

In April 2020, when it became overly clear that the pandemic would keep people isolated for more than just a week or so, a youtuber Teoh Yi Chie came across a marvelous idea called AZ Sketchbook. In the core of it, one picks a sketchbook with enough pages and fills a page or a spread with images starting with the letter of the alphabet, one per letter.

As it happened, he used a Koval sketchbook with 100% cotton paper, the same I bought onle a few weeks earlier. This was meant to be! Big differences between his way of working and mine is that he is absolutely of a different akill level than myself, he has a huge social media following and he was way more disciplined in filling the spreads almost daily. I took way longer and for some reason did S twice and X not at all. All in all, he had a ton of people joining him on Instagram using the tag azsketchbook and everyone had a great time.

After completing it halfway summer I think the result is worth collating and sharing here. One can see some progress as I did a ton of drawing exercises in the same period, especially perspective. Almost all drawings are from photo reference and it was a great way to fill a sketchbook.

As mentioned, the sketchbook is a Koval Artistico with cut corners and a real treat, it is up there with the very best watercolor sketchbooks that money can buy. Pricey, yes, but money well spend. On the other hand, if it is very much outside of your range, book binding is a post for another time.

The palette used is my Daniel Smith travel palette, another post for another time.

Teoh’s playlist of his work, I wanted to link it but WordPress made it a block and that is just as well.