Cactus In Cappuccino

Artwork – Daniel Smith watercolor in a Hahnemühle Cappuccino Book. Photo reference courtesy of ArtTower on Pixabay.

Doodlewash Prompt: Cactus

I love painting cactus and was eager to do this prompt, but I wanted to do something that didn’t scream ‘cactus’! ArtTower’s beautifully lighted reference photo fit the bill perfectly.

The Cappuccino book has lovely colored paper that creates a subtle glow when surrounded by darker colors (you can find my review here). I knew it would be perfect to capture the look I wanted. Even though it is more of a sketchbook and doesn’t have paper formulated for watercolor, it holds up to watercolor well.

If you use a lot of water, the paper dimples and gets that crunchy sound when you turn the page (I love that sound!) but flattens nicely. You notice the dimpling on the back of the page but not so much on the front. If you don’t use much water, the paper only dimples a little bit.

And the paper works beautifully with almost any medium!

Wild Squirrel for Inktober – Pencil to Paint Tutorial

Zebra Zensations Technical pens on Hahnemühle Burgund Postcard. Photo reference courtesy of Skica911 on Pixabay.

If you are looking for my review of Alice Hendon’s Tangle All Around the World you can find it here.


  • Inktober – Wild
  • Doodlewash – Squirrel

This painting is what is known as a ‘line and wash’ because it is drawn in pen first and then painted with watercolor.

Before You Start

There is a series of commercials where a squirrel sits in the road, causing a car to swerve and crash. Afterwards, he slaps hands with another squirrel and it’s obvious they planned the crash. The moral being that squirrels are EVIL! Well, actually, the moral was supposed to be that you should buy something, but I don’t even remember what.

To me, the squirrel in the reference photo had an evil expression and I wanted to capture that feeling that he was hatching mischief. The background in the reference was blurred, so I decided to add more color to create something soft and contrasting to the evil squirrel.


(This scan is darkened so you can see the pencil lines. You should pencil lines in lightly)

I decided to keep the detail limited – I wanted the focus to be on the facial expression.

Not sure if you’re up to drawing this? Art Tutor has a great grid program that will help by applying a grid to your uploaded photo. You can also crop and adjust color and value.

Except for some texture added to the tree trunks, I just penned in the outlines and minimal detail. Even at that, I felt I’d added too much so I addressed that in the last step.

With Daniel Smith Watercolor and White Uniball Signo Gel Pens added

Monte Amiata Natural Sienna with a touch of Rose of Ultramarine were used for the squirrel. Wisteria, Rose of Ultramarine, Cascade Green and a touch of Monte Amiata were used for the background. If you don’t have these Daniel Smith colors, a Raw Sienna, red violet, red violet & white, and a blue-green would give similar results.

Notice that there is a roughly circular flow to the colors in the background and the most contrast is along the lower branch, leading you to the squirrel’s face. The sharpest detail is in that face.

As mentioned in the step above, I felt I’d penned in too much line detail, so now I grabbed a white signo pen and added highlights to the fur along the back and blended some of the ink into the yellow behind. I used it, smoothing out the gel ink with a finger, along the other two branches so the light would again lead the eye toward the face.

Did it all work?

Today is the 16th day of Inktober, where anyone who is interested is challenged to do an ink drawing every day! There are prompts: Jake Parker (founder of Inktober) has an official list, but many others have put out lists as well, including the usual set of prompts from

The official Inktober Prompt List.

And the Doodlewash prompt list for the month.

Zebra Pen is joining the fun with a month-long challenge, giving you the chance to win $250 dollars worth of pen products! Just follow zebrapen_us and zebrapen_canada on Instagram, and when you post your Inktober drawing there, use the hashtags #zensationschallenge #Inktober2019 and #Inktober.

Tutorial-How to Paint with QoR Iridescent Watercolor

Are you looking for:

July is World Watercolor Month. As part of the celebration, I have a tutorial up at Doodlewash, showing how to get the most out of Iridescent watercolor.

I share three different projects, with three different methods of using QoR’s Iridescent Gold (Fine), Iridescent Silver (Fine) and Iridescent Gold (Fine) along with six more of their beautiful pigments.

And learn what that (Fine) means, too!

Tutorial – How to Draw and Paint a Rooster

Are you looking for:

July is World Watercolor Month. As part of the celebration, I have a tutorial posted at Doodlewash with video and step-by-step instructions.

The prompt for the day is ‘Flying High’. A rooster may not really fly high, but he certainly thinks he does!

Head over to learn how to draw the rooster by identifying the shapes, feather groups and details and then how to paint him, step-by-step.

Doodle Waiting

Artwork: Zebra Pen Mildliner brush pens on Hahnemühle YouTangle Tiles

Are you looking for:

I’ve had to do a lot of waiting the last couple of weeks, for various reasons. Zebra Pens US sent me a boatload of new pens – Sarasa clip pens and Mildliners. I grabbed some of the mildliners (check out the weekly giveaway!) and stuffed them in my purse (which weighs a ton! ouch!) along with some Hahnemühle YouTangle tiles.

And instead of just waiting, I doodle waited!

Mostly I was trying out the pens and checking out the new colors, but I also kept the Doodlewash prompts for the month in mind. Abstract. It’s a wonderful word that means ‘this almost looks like something’, lol.

Doodlewash prompt: Tomatoes. I started trees before I thought of tomatoes and hadn’t pulled out any reds. Ah well, tamrillos are kind of purplish and they’re called tree tomatoes.

Doodlewash prompt: Sand. At first, I just thought about doing dots in all the different colors, but I didn’t think I’d have time. Then I had the idea of confetti blowing around in a sandstorm and combined the two.

Doodlewash prompt: Under Water. So this one has under water and over water. Close enough.

Doodlewash prompt: Wildflowers. Okay, this one is really a stretch, lol. It looks more like a piñata , but a piñata made of wild flowers. Right? Right?

Wanna buy some of these cool toys now?

Hahnemühle YouTangle Tiles (review).

Zebra Pen Mildliner Pens