The Value of Practice, Ink and Wash

Sometimes when I paint, I think I had some beginner’s luck, and I may not be far from the truth. However, when faced with a challenge, I am not usually one to shy away (my family just smiles to themselves, says I am obsessed, and start backing away slowly). Well, they may be onto something with my personality. But it is not all bad. I like to think of myself as resilient.

In order to break through the slew of uninspired work or complete failures of paintings later, alas, it takes practice. Sometimes it helps just to practice brushstrokes and learn all the different ways a brush can be used, as well as color combinations. Not all of these exercises have to be done on prized cotton watercolor paper. In fact, I find myself preferring to use a normal Canson sketchbook with 65lb cartridge paper for pencil sketches. I know that there are very cheap ‘watercolor’ papers out there, but in a way, I think I have more frustration working with them and their inconsistent absorbencies than with my cartridge paper, which soaks right through. However, it does absorb evenly right from the beginning. I am just forced to work quickly, which is not the worst thing and also increases my speed – not a bad thing at all. I am also forced to make every brushstroke count, or risk the certainty of introducing a dreaded eyesore of a bloom (not all of them are, but I am not there yet during my painting).


I think another good thing is to practice making sketches and getting the perspective of scenes to look right. I am learning to do this with ink in my LAMY fountain pen, a Christmas gift from my father of a few years now (I think it is a decade old, or will be soon enough). I just bought a few new cartridges on eBay and soaked the nib to get it flowing again. However, this really has resulted in dramatic improvement in my sketching abilities.

I have focused a lot on birds, recently. However, I am planning to slowly shift into architecture and building, perhaps with a spattering of figures. The change is so daunting to me, though. I think that is why I seem to be avoiding it. One day I will take the plunge, and hopefully soon, but there isn’t really any rush. 🙂

I think this is a good time to display some ink and washes from my little cheap sketchbook.


I eventually want my paintings to be a bit looser than they are, currently. I think a good place to give that a start is in my sketches and practice. Then I won’t be so disheartened when I have to salvage a painting rather than complete it. I also overwork my paintings a bit, so this is another way to stay my hand.

Expect some more ink sketches that will help me with my perspective drawings a values. I need some work with both of those, and when set in architectural scenes, then I kill 3 birds with 1 stone.

What can I say. I am just easy to please and a happy camper most of the time. 🙂

Keep painting!


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