• Community
July 3, 2024

Sketching with Robin

While on an extended road trip with her family, our artist friend Robin Lee Carlson took the scenic route to pass through Port Townsend on her way South.

By The Art Toolkit Team

an open sketchbook of moody clouds over a toolkit and sketching supplies

Members of the Art Toolkit team met up outside the Maritime Center for a Sunday cup of coffee and a little bit of sketching with Robin Lee Carlson. The weather was mild, but the clouds were magnificent! Maria and Robin went in with direct watercolor to capture their shapes and range of values. Cole sketched the pier; Nakaia sketched some tiny beachside plants; Darin made sunbursts with vibrant, warm colors.

a photo of a pier with a vast sky of clouds
Looking East over the pier.
a group of sketcher sit at a picnic table strewn with supplies, looking focused
Focused faces, sketching at a picnic table!

Robin opened her Duotone Desert A5 Art Toolkit to reveal a warm brown-toned sketchbook and jumped right in with a Niji Flat Water Brush. In one hand, Robin held a Caran d’Ache Neocolor II water-soluble pastel, and in the other, she used her brush to blot the crayon and add the color to her page. From white fluffy tops to purple underbellies, the clouds did not disappoint!

using a waterbrush, someone mixes paint in a palette lid
Robin uses a water brush to transfer pigment.
toolkits in burgundy, green, and orange lay open on a wooden table
Open Toolkits in all sizes and colors!
a person uses a water brush to apply white paint to a painting of clouds on a brown sketchbook
Capturing clouds with a flat brush and white, blue, and purple mixes.

Maria used her R3 Large Mop (a current favorite), a 100% Cotton Watercolor Book, and a special Folio Palette she built for this month’s Direct Watercolor Challenge. As she quickly painted the negative shapes of the clouds, she observed that when painting skies, it can be helpful to “get in and get out fast! Try not to spend more than 90 seconds on your sky to keep them feeling fresh.”

a table of supplies, and open painting palettes

Robin commented that if you’re not liking an element of your painting, it’s totally a “give-it-time thing.” Try to see a painting through to completion, and taking a break can also be helpful! You may find you’re more satisfied with it later.   

Cole experimented with mixing watercolor and white gouache, adding some opacity and chalkiness to their sketch, and used a ballpoint pen, “channeling Mike Daikubara.” Adding in gouache can make the colors pop more and fade less than just using watercolor, which Cole likes since they’re accustomed to the vibrancy of digital art.

a person uses pen to add details to a small sketch with palettes and an empty coffee mug in the background.
Cole sketches the pier.

Nakaia chose to paint little things because the sky and scenery looked so vast. She wanted to draw something still, small, and detailed, so she picked a couple of grasses and flowers.

an aerial shot of a table of art supplies in the sun
A picnic table covered in sketching supplies: what a treat!

We discussed annotating our pages, and Robin reminded the group that if you don’t add words in the moment, “you can totally go back and do it later.”

someone sketches little plant samples in a sketching journal
Grasses and seeds!

The shady, dramatic clouds led to patchy sun breaks before the sky opened wide, and we headed into the shade of an awning to take some photos. We got the giggles out as we plotted what style of group picture to capture, ranging from American Gothic to silly, sitting in order of height as a happy accident. It was a sweet morning, and we’re so happy everyone was able to enjoy it together.

A group of four people sit on a bench, smiling and holding up sketchbooks
Robin, Nakaia, Maria, and Cole with their finished sketches.

Robin Lee Carlson joined us for a workshop on Nature Journaling this winter, after doing a live demo with us in 2023. You can watch the recording of her Nature Journaling demo here and keep up with her eco-reportage on her website.

An artist sites on a rock, dipping a paintbrush in a Pocket Palette.

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