September 22, 2023


How Art Works

Contained in the Sketchbook of Lis Watkins

6 min read

Lis Watkins is an artist who specialises in drawing on location, journey illustration and sketching workshops, along with her work taking her across the UK and throughout Europe. Right here, she shares her ideas on her sketchbook follow in addition to her suggestions for extending your watercolour palette when portray on location.


Lis Watkins Takes Us By way of Her Sketchbook Follow

I’ve a sketchbook on the go more often than not, filling it up earlier than beginning the subsequent. I really like observing and recording metropolis tales and drawing in a sketchbook will be an unobtrusive approach to do that. I take advantage of them nearly solely for location drawing as of late however prior to now have used them extra as scrapbooks, filling them with concepts and notes extra like a visible journal. They’re the issues that I’ve all the time saved, even after I threw different items of art work away, so they’re particular to me.


Lis Watkins


In the intervening time my favorite sketchbooks are from the Stillman and Birn Beta sequence, significantly the 8 x 10 in and 5 x 7 in sizes. They’re those with the blue comfortable again cowl. I actually just like the paper high quality, which is a really easy thick watercolour paper that feels nearly like a skinny card. It’s nice to attract on, taking each watercolour and pen strains very well. I’ve additionally purchased sheets of it to make into accordion sketchbooks after I wished to strive a bigger format on journey journeys. One other favorite are Laloran sketchbooks that are handmade in Portugal. Since I began my weblog, Line and Wash in 2011, I believe that I’ve tried many of the manufacturers available on the market. I make a alternative based mostly on the paper high quality, measurement, whether or not it could actually open flat and whether it is fairly strong.


Lis Watkins Sketchbook



Supplies clever I take advantage of a mix of watercolour and pen line. The watercolours are primarily from the Winsor & Newton Skilled vary, with just a few additions from Daniel Smith and in the meanwhile I even have one from Deep Deep Gentle. Brushes are artificial ones, primarily journey brushes from Escoda, that are actually sensible when out on location. I’m not probably the most cautious individual with my supplies so the truth that you’ll be able to pack them away with out damaging the bristles is beneficial. For line, I take advantage of fineliners in black, sepia and white. I even have a small tin with additional bits and items like crayons and pastels that are helpful if I would like so as to add a little bit of texture to a sketch.




Over time, these are the supplies which I’ve discovered to be most helpful for getting the most effective outcomes. Utilizing supplies that are gentle and moveable is an enormous consideration after I exit drawing on location. Reliability is very vital too. Color decisions have developed through the years by means of experimentation, chatting to different artists about their specific favourites and in addition being given samples to check out. I’ve launched new colors to my watercolour tin when I’ve been visiting new locations too.



Once I visited Lisbon in 2017, I added a Cobalt Turquoise and Naples Yellow as I felt they’d be helpful for the sunnier local weather. Over the pandemic I added extra greens as I used to be drawing in numerous parks and gardens. I’ve managed to squeeze 24 half pans in my watercolour tin following sensible recommendation from Liz Steele, who suggests eradicating the centre part and including a layer of Blu Tac to maintain the pans in place. I perceive that you may combine so many colors from a a lot smaller choice however when on location I’m simply searching for the quickest and best method to seize the scene in entrance of me.



Sketchbooks are my favorite place to attract, the place I will be myself, simply play and get within the move, so I take advantage of them so much. There’s something a few sketchbook that’s so private, it doesn’t have the daunting high quality of a single clean sheet, you’ll be able to simply shut it up when you find yourself completed. And there’s all the time the prospect to show a web page and begin one other day if issues don’t work out fairly as you anticipated. Once I look again at my sketchbooks, I’m transported again to a specific place and time, drawings can evoke emotions and recollections.


Lis Watkins Sketchbook


I’m primarily a drawer (that all the time appears odd whenever you write it down!) so the work in my sketchbooks is my most private expression, instant mark making impressed by a response to the placement. To be fairly sincere, they don’t seem to be ‘for’ something though in fact they are often helpful for making an attempt out totally different approaches and methods, which then can have a knock on impact for illustration commissions.



Previously I’ve additionally used sketchbook drawings to make prints and lately I produced a zine, London Greens, which was a group of my favorite sketches made throughout the pandemic. I used to be invited to indicate it on the French journey sketchbook competition, Rendez-vous du Carnet de Voyage, in November final yr, the place it was nominated for the Prix du Carnet de Voyage Worldwide.


Lis Watkins Sketchbook


I really like the idea that ‘sketchbooks are laboratories,’ locations to experiment and develop with no expectations. I’m significantly impressed by artists from the City Sketcher neighborhood like Jenny Adam, Swasky, Inma Serrano and Maru Godas who actually use texture and color boldly of their sketchbook work.


Lis Watkins Drawing


Sketchbooks are nice for any artist to maintain and use. They are often a useful useful resource to look again on should you really feel caught. They hint your inventive path, turn out to be a visible diary. I believe it’s good to search out the proper type of one which fits your follow, it doesn’t simply should be for drawing, you’ll be able to stick issues in, add notes, color swatches, no matter you need. You possibly can pour your coronary heart into them, share them with everybody or present them to nobody.





Stillman and Birn Beta Sequence


Winsor & Newton Watercolours

Daniel Smith Watercolours

Pens, Pencils, Brushes:

Rotring Tikky Pens

Pentel Black Brush Pen

Derwent Line Marker Pen in Sepia

Uniball Signo Broad White Gel Pen – much like Sakura Gelly Roll White Gel Pen

Pentel Micro Right White Pen

Faber Castell Pencils

Crayola Crayons

Caran d’Ache Neocolour II

Escoda Journey Brushes

Pentel Water Brush

Different Supplies:

Bulldog clips

Jam jar for water

Sketching stool



About Lis Watkins

Lis Watkins is an artist specialising in drawing on location, journey illustration and sketching workshops. She studied at Brighton and Kingston artwork faculties.

Drawing in sketchbooks is an integral a part of her follow, the place she captures peculiar on a regular basis moments, larger metropolis tales and journey adventures, utilizing watercolour and pen.

She is skilled at producing illustrations, visuals and hand-drawn maps for purchasers within the journey and occasions sectors.

Lis is giving workshops this yr in Barcelona and Intragna, Switzerland and can be one half of the ‘Sketchwalk London’ workforce, introducing the company neighborhood to the wellbeing points of strolling and drawing of their London locality.

Follow Lis on Instagram

Visit Lis’s website



Additional Studying

Classes Discovered After a 12 months of Watercolour Portray

A Information to Watercolour Portray

Growing a Day by day Drawing Follow With the Royal Drawing College

Making ready a Watercolour Gouache Palette for Portray on Location


Store Sketchbooks on


Clare McNamara

As Weblog Editor, Clare oversees content material for the weblog, manages the publishing schedule and contributes frequently with options, critiques and interviews. With a background in superb arts, her practices are illustration, graphic design, video and music.

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