Review-Sketching Stuff Activity Book: Nature by Charlie O’Shields

The Sketching Stuff Activity book by Charlie O’Shields has a wide range of activities.

The themes of this book are fun and nature. It is written to appeal to a child, both the actual youth, and the inner child we all carry within us.

Charlie puts emphasis on approaching art like a child, but don’t kid yourself. You’ll have fun, but you’ll also learn techniques for observing, drawing and painting.

Breaking News! Charlie has started a new Sketching Stuff Facebook Group for people to share their work from the book!


  • Paperback: 72 pages
  • Publisher: Doodlewash Books (April 21, 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0960021930
  • ISBN-13: 978-0960021932
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.2 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.6 ounces 

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Look and Feel

None of the exercises in Sketching Stuff are difficult Many are very simple with a brief explanation, an example, and room to try it yourself. Others require more reading, more thought, and for you to supply your own paper.

You’re taken from scribbling to seek and finds, and grid methods, and more All of it is approached as a fun exercise, and most of the time you won’t even know you are learning. The illustrations are beautiful and lively, as is the writing.

The directions are clear and easy to follow, throughout.

You’re given a peek at Charlie’s just DO, yet mellow approach to art and life. His methods of painting will help you paint quick little masterpieces. Okay. They might not all be masterpieces, but if you follow his advice, you won’t care. You’ll be having too much fun to worry about it.

At 8.5 x 0.2 x 11 inches, and 72 pages, this book won’t fit into most purses or pockets, but it is light enough for easy carry.  It is a softcover with cardstock covers, and the usual paper that you get with Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing.

The book has a glued binding so it doesn’t lie totally flat. The slope isn’t bad. Average for any coloring book with 72 pages.

This is standard for an activity or coloring book in this price range. That’s why it costs $8 – $13 instead of the $30-$40 that you would pay for premium paper.

The day I received my copy of the book, I immediately did the first two exercises, which centered on scribbling. Right up my alley!

In the first, Charlie invites us to scribble like a child while thinking about items from nature. I think I got more involved than he intended. I can’t help myself! That’s okay though, since Charlie also emphasizes embracing our own style.

In the second exercise you make a large scribble and then look for objects. You can tell I had fun.

I knew what to expect from the paper, since I’ve purchased activity books from Kindle Direct Publishing before. Colored pencil works very well on this paper. Markers and pens do well as long as the ink is not too wet. You might get some show-through on the back of the paper or even bleed through if you layer pen or marker color. Anything too wet will bleed-through.

I made an example for you in the exercise on scribbling shapes.

I used technical pens to draw the shapes, and colored in my drawing with colored pencil and markers.

Water-soluble marker was used for all the green and yellow. The pansy that is toward the center of the page was also done with these markers. I went over the pansy with a wet brush to spread the color. Now look at the back of the page.

Neither the technical pen or colored pencil show at all. The marker in green shows as a shadow and faint dots here and there. Where I wet the pansy, there is bleed through.

There are a couple of blank pages at the back of the book, and I suggest trying out any pen or marker that you want to use. Color a small area, and check the back. If there is not bleed through, then color over the same area and check again. This will show you if you can layer with that pen or marker.

You’ll need some basic art supplies – pencil, pen, crayon, colored pencils, watercolors and watercolor paper are suggested. But, if you don’t have all of those, you can still do the exercises, as long as you have something to draw and color with.

Rule of thumb: Pencil and color pencil work best in this book. Some pens are great, others might not be. Markers can work, but should be tested in the back first.

Overall: This book is fun, with something for everyone. If you are a beginner, the exercises are easy enough that you can do them, and learn new techniques. If you are more experienced, the exercises are great practice, and you can build on them as I have done with my examples.

Charlie has a unique technique and I think even very experienced artists will pick up some ideas on painting smart, not hard.


  • Copyright Page
  • Let’s Sketch Nature
  • What You’ll Need
  • How I Sketch Stuff
  • Coloring Fun
  • Scribble, Doodle, Color
  • Let’s Scribble
  • Scribble Art
  • Scribble Lines
  • Scribble Shapes
  • Scribble Nature
  • Seeing Clearly
  • Spot the Difference 1
  • Spot the Difference 2
  • Spot the Difference 3
  • Find and Scribble the Shapes 1
  • Find and Scribble the Shapes 2
  • Find and Scribble the Shapes 3
  • Doodle Textures
  • Doodle This
  • Doodle Grids
  • Doodle Flip
  • Lots of References
  • Doodle Stuff from Life
  • Doodle with just One Line
  • Doodle without Peeking
  • Doodle from Imagination
  • The Color Wheel
  • Let’s Color with Crayons
  • Let’s Color with Colored Pencils
  • Embrace Your Style
  • Coloring with Watercolor
  • My Coloring Set
  • Let’s Make More Colors
  • How I Like to Color
  • Let’s Color a Flower
  • More Ways to Play
  • Hide and Seek
  • Autumn Leaves
  • Scribble, Doodle, Color
  • Colorful Birds
  • A Barn Owl
  • A Bird with Flowers
  • Flowers in a Vase
  • A Bird in a Blue Sky
  • Strut your Stuff
  • 60 Things to Sketch
  • Photo Credits/ Solutions to Spot the Difference & Hide and Seek
  • About the Author

You can buy the Sketching Stuff Activity Book at Amazon.

Charlie O’Shields is the founder and admin of Facebook’s ‘World Watercolor Group’, World Watercolor Month, and the Doodlewash Community. For more then 1400 consecutive days, he’s delighted his readers by sharing his watercolor art and a rambling essay about life, his interests, and the importance of staying young at heart.

Published by Life Imitates Doodles Art, Reviews & Tutorials

Artist Ambassador for Zebra Pens. I'm a self-taught artist who dances about with all sorts of artistic mediums. My main loves are Watercolor, Zentangle and Ballpoint pen. The subjects of my work are many and varied and change at whim. I'm a little bit crazy, but doesn't that come with being an artist? At my Life Imitates Doodles Blog, I post a list of resource links for Tangles, Tutorials and Giveaways two times a week. I also write reviews, hold giveaways and share my art work.

13 thoughts on “Review-Sketching Stuff Activity Book: Nature by Charlie O’Shields

  1. Thanks Sandra, This looks sooo fun. I’m going to get mine ordered today.
    Your review was well done and I enjoyed the music too!

  2. just ordered my copy. I’ll work on it in my spare time. hahahahaha! seriously. looks like a great book and right up my alley. Charlie is awesome, I love his work. thanks for sharing ❤

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