Late September boats

There were several false starts during my sketch outing today. My rusty drawing skills played a part in that. School has been busy these past few weeks and if I don’t get out often to sketch it takes some time to warm up my drawing hand. Or my drawing brain. Or both. As well, I started my first sketch with a subject that seemed quite perfect — a white boat and its pristine reflection — but about halfway into the drawing a sailor showed up and off he sailed, with my perfect subject. Luckily there were more boats to take its place.


25 Comments on “Late September boats”

  1. angmacleod says:

    Rusty or not, great little sketch!!


  2. Sandy says:

    I have the same problem sketching my dogs. But you made a good save!


  3. Trudy Honeycutt says:

    Really looking forward to the day that my “rusty drawing skills” look this great!!! Beautiful piece!!


  4. Darell says:

    False starts? Rusty skills? Tell us more about how you get back into your productive rhythm. What habits are most important to you? Your end results always look effortless to me.


    • HI Darell,

      Thanks for asking this. When I haven’t sketched in a long time of course I imagine that I have completely forgotten how to paint! I think everyone goes through that at some point or another. Once I finally do get on site I am way too excited to get into the painting part so I make one or all of the following mistakes:
      I start too large without a planning phase and realize too late that my composition is poor.
      I paint too quickly, using too much pigment, as if I have forgotten how to be subtle with watercolour
      I give up too quickly, discarding sketches that might otherwise work out well with a little more patience.

      The best solution for all of this is to start small but when I have an afternoon off I feel I must accomplish something substantial, and that’s what gets me into trouble. If I did a few small sketches first this would probably eliminate all the wasted paper.
      Sorry for the long ramble but you asked about the false starts and this is the honest answer.

      The stuff that looks effortless often looks that way because of the previous discards.



  5. Yorky says:

    Nevertheless a beautiful sketch. Obstructions and changes are one of the hazards of plein air painting. I was doing a quick sketch of the Buttermarket at Dunster when a double-decker bus drew up and pulled in front of my subject.


    • Yorky, that happens to me all the time! That is why I usually take a quick phone shot when I sit down, just in case I need to finish the sketch when I get home. I have had beer delivery trucks park in from of me so often that I should be an expert in drawing them by now.


  6. Judy Sopher says:

    Lovely -boats and water-my favorites. To the right, there is a picture of you holding your sketchbook with this painting. I am sure I am behind the times but I have wanted to ask this for a long time. What is on instagram that I am missing by only following this blog? Thanks.


    • HI Judy. Good question about Instagram. I can only tell you about the difference for me and how I use it.
      Writing my blog posts take time, so often when I only have time to paint and no time to write, I will take a photo of the sketch on location and post it immediately. That’s what Instagram is for me. It is about immediacy. There are no tips, no long contemplation about techniques, etc. That I save for the blog. But if I only have a quick hour to sketch, I will take a photo of the location and the sketch together and quickly post it on Instagram.


  7. Alison says:

    Obviously your painting hand/brain is not rusty. Great sketch. I LOVE the colour scheme. What sketchbook did you use? Not your usual square handbook.


  8. Benadette says:

    I see no rusty parts to this lovely painting. The colors are clean and fresh, composition is perfect! I know it is true that being away from daily painting does hinder your start up but you jumped over that hurdle with ease. Thanks for sharing and reminding us to paint or draw routinely to keep your talents alive and well.


    • Thanks Benadette. I just want to check something from you. On your comment it shows your name as “Benadette”. Are you the same person who also comments as “Bernadette”? Maybe the spelling on one of the comments is wrong but I’d just love to find out.


  9. Frank Bettendorf says:

    I’d be interested to read if you have any “warm up” exercises to overcome the rusty aspects of the hand/eye connection. I’ve tried continuous line and that seems helpful. Thanks for responding.


    • Frank, my best advice is to start small and do some very quick sketches to warm up the hand and the eye. If I don’t do that I find my drawing are quite stiff. It’s like musicians doing scales. Go back to the basics, draw something you are familiar with, keep it small and move on from there.


  10. Jeff Gold says:

    Beautiful sketch. I love the combination of colors and values that give it a very bright autumnal feeling. The best parts for me are the directly painted sky and especially the reflections in the water. Using diagonal strokes in the foreground does a couple of interesting things. They increase the feeling of perspective leading the viewer into the painting (toward the boats) and they seem to add motion to what might otherwise be a rather static horizontal composition. Very satisfying end result and done, as always, with the most economical means.


  11. Andrew Zakovorotny says:

    Shari, I am always amaized with your direct and catching scetches! Iam trying to teach myself of simplifying the subject – it is my biggest trouble as I tend to include every detail in my painting. If you could add a photo of the scene sometimes that would be helpful for those looking to improve their “artistic eye”.

    Thank you Shari for your journal. I start every morning by looking fof your postings.



  12. joantav says:

    You are definitely not rusty. Boats, like cars and people can’t be trusted to stay put. You do such a good job of simplifying a complex scene and making it look so believable.


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