Urban Watercolor Sketching

Over the past 10 months I’ve been getting back into drawing and now, painting. It’s been great for me, a way to do something that is completely away from the screen. And over that time I’ve picked up various books on both drawing and painting but none of them appealed once I started reading, so I never finished them. But this past week I sped through Urban Watercolor Sketching by Felix Scheinberger. I really enjoyed this book.

Scheinberger’s style of writing is fantastic. He’s relaxed and funny and the book is filled with information. He goes through color and color theory, he talks about the tools he carries to give you ideas on what you may want to use as well, and he goes through some specific techniques to finish it off. But what I liked more than anything was that he was suggesting most of the time. He didn’t prescribe anything, but his wording was so great that it never felt like you had to do any of the things he suggested.

Many of his words were freeing for me, words I needed to hear. I’m doing this for my enjoyment, to get back into something I loved enough to study and work at for four years, paying to do so. Now, I want to learn, grow, enjoy, and find my way without all the shoulds that so often come into these things.

I also happen to love his sketching style and the book is filled with his own illustrations that he uses to elaborate on various points. So, if you want to read about some art theory, some watercolor specific techniques, and get some thoughts from an experienced illustrator, give this a try.

When you draw and conceive of something in paint, you are creating something new, something that until now was only ever inside your head. (p 87)

So, if you want your picture to be meaningful, its subject should have meaning for you. If you have a personal or emotional relationship with your subject, this meaning will creep into your picture almost magically and will also reach its viewers. (p 88)

Remember, great materials alone do not make a good painting. (p 92)

If you plan to paint something, you should paint it for itself and not for the expectations of past generations. Seen in the light of day, a house in Provence may mean very little to you personally. It may look pretty, but is it just as important as your first love’s house or the house you grew up in? (p 126)

Some say, “Art is synonymous with skill.” I say, free yourself from that! In reality, skill comes from doing, and doing comes from trying. Good composition cannot be memorized. Try different things out as often as you can—your pictures will benefit from it! (p 129)