Contained in the Sketchbook of Lis Watkins

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 observe in addition to her suggestions for extending your watercolour palette when portray on location.


Lis Watkins Takes Us Via Her Sketchbook Apply

I’ve a sketchbook on the go more often than not, filling it up earlier than beginning the following. I like observing and recording metropolis tales and drawing in a sketchbook could be an unobtrusive manner to do that. I take advantage of them virtually solely for location drawing as of late however previously have used them extra as scrapbooks, filling them with concepts and notes extra like a visible journal. They’re the issues that I’ve at all times stored, even once I threw different items of paintings away, so they’re particular to me.


Lis Watkins


In the intervening time my favorite sketchbooks are from the Stillman and Birn Beta collection, notably the 8 x 10 in and 5 x 7 in sizes. They’re those with the blue smooth again cowl. I actually just like the paper high quality, which is a really easy thick watercolour paper that feels virtually like a skinny card. It’s nice to attract on, taking each watercolour and pen traces very well. I’ve additionally purchased sheets of it to make into accordion sketchbooks once I needed 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 selection primarily based on the paper high quality, dimension, whether or not it could possibly open flat and whether it is fairly strong.


Lis Watkins Sketchbook



Supplies smart I take advantage of a combination 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 intervening time 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 particular person with my supplies so the truth that you may pack them away with out damaging the bristles is helpful. For line, I take advantage of fineliners in black, sepia and white. I even have a small tin with further bits and items like crayons and pastels that are helpful if I want 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 very best outcomes. Utilizing supplies that are mild and moveable is an enormous consideration once I exit drawing on location. Reliability is particularly necessary too. Color decisions have developed through the years by experimentation, chatting to different artists about their explicit favourites and likewise 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 might be helpful for the sunnier local weather. Over the pandemic I added extra greens as I used to be drawing in a lot of 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 which you could combine so many colors from a a lot smaller choice however when on location I’m simply in search of the quickest and best technique to seize the scene in entrance of me.



Sketchbooks are my favorite place to attract, the place I could be myself, simply play and get within the movement, so I take advantage of them lots. There’s something a couple of sketchbook that’s so private, it doesn’t have the daunting high quality of a single clean sheet, you may simply shut it up if you end up completed. And there may be at all times the possibility 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 reminiscences.


Lis Watkins Sketchbook


I’m basically a drawer (that at all times appears to be like odd once you write it down!) so the work in my sketchbooks is my most private expression, speedy mark making impressed by a response to the situation. To be fairly sincere, they aren’t ‘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.



Prior to now I’ve additionally used sketchbook drawings to make prints and just lately I produced a zine, London Greens, which was a group of my favorite sketches made in the course of 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 12 months, the place it was nominated for the Prix du Carnet de Voyage Worldwide.


Lis Watkins Sketchbook


I like the idea that ‘sketchbooks are laboratories,’ locations to experiment and develop with no expectations. I’m notably impressed by artists from the City Sketcher group 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 for those who really feel caught. They hint your creative path, turn out to be a visible diary. I believe it’s good to seek out the suitable form of one which fits your observe, it doesn’t simply should be for drawing, you may 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 Collection


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 Appropriate 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 schools.

Drawing in sketchbooks is an integral a part of her observe, the place she captures abnormal 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 12 months in Barcelona and Intragna, Switzerland and can be one half of the ‘Sketchwalk London’ crew, introducing the company group to the wellbeing facets of strolling and drawing of their London locality.

Follow Lis on Instagram

Visit Lis’s website



Additional Studying

Classes Discovered After a Yr of Watercolour Portray

A Information to Watercolour Portray

Growing a Every day Drawing Apply 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 usually with options, critiques and interviews. With a background in positive arts, her practices are illustration, graphic design, video and music.