Sunday, March 05, 2017

Sunday Sketches (A little About My Work)

People often ask about my process for drawing and painting. So, this week, I thought it would be nice to briefly share a little about what I do when preparing an illustration. Although I've mentioned some things in previous posts, placing them in one spot would probably be a bit more helpful to those who are new to watercolor painting. 

Do you really paint all of your illustrations?
YES! I hand-paint pretty much everything I do. Meaning, no "digital" painting, adding digital patterns to my clothes or curtains, etc. If I do anything digital, it's to create shadows or highlights on my finished piece after scanning and uploading into Photoshop.

Have I dabbled in "digital" painting before? Yes, I have and honestly, it's so not for me...but that's OK! Hand-painting my entire pieces seem to be the best way to capture that child-like heart within my work, especially when creating my woodland creatures and scenes.

Where do you get your ideas?
My ideas and inspiration come from various places but most of the time it's from simply taking in nature and my surroundings, whether it's walking our doggy, pulling open the blinds in the early morning hours to see a half dozen bunnies playing in our front yard and so forth.

Sometimes, I'll take a picture of what I see in order to reference it later. For example, when walking downtown a few weeks back, I spotted a squirrel perched at the top of a fence with a half corn cob in its hands. Quite cute, actually, and reminded me of Beatrix Potter and all the wonder she must have spotted as a child which she then transitioned into beautiful illustrations as well.

How do you put your ideas on paper?
Step 1: After tossing out countless sheets of nice (and expensive) watercolor paper due to smudges from constant erasing, Michael gave me the idea to sketch my ideas out on tracing paper first. This allows me to easily make changes without ruining quality paper. Take a look at this example.  You'll be able to see me sketching out my idea for Miss Lilly's house. In fact, if you look close, you can see where I'm trying to decide on whether to include a second rabbit by the window.

Step 2: Once my idea has been completely sketched (see image below), I then flip the tracing paper over and trace with a pencil the entire image. Flipping it over again, I place it on top of the watercolor paper of my choice, trace it for the last time and it's now transitioned to actual paper for me to paint (as you see in the image above).

I've plenty of other wonderful and creative techniques you can learn more about when signing up for my online class, Watercolor 101: My Illustration Secrets. It's great for anyone desiring to learn not the just basics of watercolor but what I do personally, within my own creative world for children's illustrations!

OK enough about me. I'm off to see what everyone has been up to this week and looking forward to it!
If you're participating in Sunday Sketches, you can grab the NEW Sunday Sketches button HERE.

Submit your artwork by signing up below with a link to your blog. PLEASE make sure to visit each other! One of the biggest reasons for this co-op is encouraging one another in our creative endeavors. Thank you!



  1. Thanks for sharing a little about your work process.

    I hope I will get a new computer soon so I can start practice sketching again.

  2. That is such a sweet kitchen scene. I always enjoy learning about other people's creative process, so thank you for sharing yours. Blessings!

  3. Love your button ring! Thanks for sharing your technique xx (jenny king)

  4. Thanks for the peek at your process. It always helps to see that other artists don't have some magic power of getting every detail perfect without a lot of effort.

  5. Thanks for sharing your process and so glad you no longer have to waste that good paper! I get ideas from everywhere, nature, magazines, the internet. I start with a quick pencil sketch and colour it in.

  6. It's great to see your process, many thanks for sharing! And I love the little scenery :) so cute!

  7. I am on the fly today, will be back later to read and respond. Hope you have a wonderful Sunday :)

    Andrea @ From the Sol

  8. Thanks for giving us a peek at your process. Always interesting to hear from others. I, too, used to go through tons of watercolor paper before I discovered tracing paper/vellum!! So much easier to get things just right!

  9. Oh that is charming! Thanks for sharing some of your process too. I also transfer my sketches once I feel they are right.

  10. A wonderful post to read and an insight to how your paintings begin to come alive on the page.
    Its a beautiful sketch today.
    Yvonne xx

  11. Thanks so much for the tips on how you illustrate ~ makes great sense ~ your illustrations are always wonderful ~

    Wishing you a Happy Week ahead ~ ^_^

  12. I enjoyed reading about your process. Great idea about drawing ideas on the tracing paper. I always use cheap paper but the tracing paper is even better since it has transparency.

  13. I have used tracing paper that way, but I colored the whole back of the picture with pencil and that caused some smudging problems ... just outlining the picture is so simple it is brilliant :) I will have to try that the next time I use this technique. I also went to your husbands page and love the idea and hopefully will be able to find the time to do some scribbling so I can join in. Once again Alexandra ... it's been a pleasure :)

    Andrea @ From the Sol

  14. Thanks so much for the good information. I thinking seriously of taking some of your courses.

  15. I like seeing your process. I also use tracing paper as they are very useful since you can place them on an unfinished piece and sketch elements you're not sure of, saves you a lot of erasing and even patience.

    have a lovely day.

  16. Enchanting watercolour, peaceful process. Greetings from Dori from the Bavarian Forest


© Alexandra MacVean. All rights reserved.
Blogger Templates by pipdig