Watercolor 101: Where do I start?!


BH 1992 sketching

Me in 1992: When you sketch with a friend, you may end up being the subject!

With the recent upsurge of interest in all things sketchbook-y, it is easy to feel like you are attempting to get on a train that has already left the station, and that everyone has been on to this fad for years and therefore has skills you will never, ever, acquire.

Not so! And beyond that, you will actually have the edge over all that supposed competition because I am about to tell you the 3 most important keys to your creative success.

  • You are just making marks on paper, using different toys to do so.
  • Your thoughts about those marks have very little to do with those marks.
  • You forgot #1 already, so reread it.

There you go, nothing else needed.

But now that I have your attention, and you are fully aware of the very most important truths about your artwork (see above because you forgot again, right?), I will give you my version of the rest of the bare-bones info.

How Can You Go Home If You Don’t Know Where It Is?

‘Home’ is where you are comfortable, you know your surroundings, and can reach for the light switch without even looking. Your bare-bones travel art kit should feel like ‘home’; it will feel that way if you build it thoughtfully, with simple guidelines.

Focus, Don’t Flit

The key to a pleasurable sketching habit is focus. The whole reason we are drawn to drawing is because we love to look, to see, and to be amazed. Staring at late-afternoon shadows dancing across a beautiful garden is enchanting. Ruminating over which pen to use will ruin the whole experience, guaranteed. The fewer sketching supplies you have at hand, the less time you will waste “up in your head” making decisions about which supplies to use.  

There is a serious reason our supply goal should be ‘A.F.A.P.’-  As Few As Possible

You see, that “which-pen-should-I-use” part of your brain is located right next to the “what the heck are you doing anyway??” part of your brain, the part that wants you to put down all the art supplies and get home where there are much more important things to do, like alphabetizing your socks or watching the real news about the fake news about the real news. He who hesitates over art supply options is not only lost, he is at risk of quitting entirely, and therefore will never get good at this drawing thing. So the fewer tools, the better, and the cheaper the better too (within reason), at least at the beginning.

The  five things I need to sustain my sketching habit are:

  • Paper
  • Pens
  • Watercolors
  • Brushes
  • Travel Kit (shoulder bag to contain the first four, plus a few extras)

In the next five posts I will share my take on the basic supplies you will need. What you read here will not be definitive by any means; rather I am introducing you to my best friends. Some have changed over time, others are utterly steadfast. To the point where I smile just thinking of them…

About Bobbie Herron

I live surrounded by watercolor brushes and paints, fountain pens, sketchbooks, and journals- often wanting more than anything to write and paint at the same time. If you like what you're reading, feel free to share it with others. If you see something that needs correction, please let me know. Thanks for visiting!
This entry was posted in 1- Nuts: Graphic Styles, Sketchbooks, Watercolor. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Watercolor 101: Where do I start?!

  1. Maggie Butler says:

    Love your sketching self! Good advice too!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sandy Ray says:

    Have received my new BEE PAPER CO. sketchbook , , , bigger than my favorite little one that seems to be irreplaceable but very nice. Assembling my pens as per your suggestion but can’t imagine JUST using pens . . . SO SCARY! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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