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Day 14 : #30x30DirectWatercolor2018 : The Urban Sketcher Redux

June 14, 2018

Old Port Montreal. Can you spot why this is an extra-fun sketch for me?

Here’s some process.

I start with a Dot Plot <read more about this trick here) but only worrying about the focal point, not the entire painting. I cautiously draw the tiny backlit house at the end of the street – and then blast in the big shadow side. I always say – slow on the edge (of a shape), fast in the middle. The idea with the big shape is: get it wet enough to have some natural settling in the paint, and to get through the entire shape without any pesky dry edges inside.

There’s a second big shape on the lit side, some made up clouds that look like ACK ACK in a WW2 comic, and finally the fun stuff! The calligraphic marks on top of the big shapes.

My thing right now is how abstract I can make the little calligraphy. So it reads like buildings, maybe people and cars, but it’s not overly rendered.

Did anyone guess the joke?

This is the same street on the cover of my first book, The Urban Sketcher – published four years ago. I’m kind of amazed at the difference. Really it’s 10 years difference I suppose, as my drawing style took years to develop, and was already changing by the time the book was in print.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. Vicki Umbreit permalink
    June 14, 2018 9:10 AM

    Thank you for sharing your talents. You make me want to paint every minute of every day with your beautiful scenery! The tips and techniques are invaluable. I appreciate You, and the time you take to teach and share!

  2. June 14, 2018 10:54 AM

    Wow, your book was sitting at my right elbow as I read this post. First response, of course, “No WAY!” You are amazing. What a lesson.

  3. Estelle DeRidder permalink
    June 14, 2018 12:31 PM

    You are an inspiration guru. Thank you for sharing all your knowledge, experience, emotions and final results ( whether I agree with some of your very strong critiques, or not) – ha ha ha – you are certainly one of the best, if not THE best teachers who can convey all this information and create relationships with your students through your enlightened vision.

  4. Harry permalink
    June 14, 2018 1:33 PM

    I agree with Bobby, I had to check my copy!

  5. Jason Mullins permalink
    June 15, 2018 8:38 AM

    I am really digging the calligraphy marks. You are becoming quite the master of “suggestion.” Thanks for posting that and explaining your process.

  6. trentbauman permalink
    June 16, 2018 10:54 AM

    Your urban sketcher book is a real inspiration to me. I re-read it quite often and learn new things all the time. Thanks for writing it.

  7. roxannesteed permalink
    June 16, 2018 11:06 AM

    I really appreciate the descriptions of your techniques!! I had always been doing the ‘dot plot’ in pencil…and during this challenge realized I could do it with paint as well (if I was careful). Thanks for confirming this, and describing this further!! (whew, I feel like I’m on the right track!). This has been a fun challenge & I’m learning some new things!!! Thanks for hosting this and sharing your knowledge! Very grateful!


  1. Day 14 : #30x30DirectWatercolor2018 — Citizen Sketcher – „Ingerii sunt spirite inaripate, prietene cu spiritul tau inaripat.“

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