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Ink and Watercolour as a Daily Sketching Habit

daily sketching ink and watercolor workshops Apr 14, 2021

While preparing for the webinar workshop I taught a couple of days ago, I sorted through boxes of loose sketches done in dark pubs and theaters during performances, as well as a decade of sketchbooks I worked in both at home and while traveling the world exploring with pen and brush.  The focus of Monday evening's workshop was Ink and Watercolour for the Dinas Powys Art group in Cardiff, Wales. As usual, I'd prepared a week's worth of lessons and videos for a session that was to last only an hour and a half.  Once I started to go down memory lane, a journey triggered by the loose sketches and sketchbooks, I didn't stop ... I was enjoying the memories far too much.

I found myself laughing aloud and smiling for hours on end.  I could taste the flapjacks, smell the salt air, feel the wind on my face and hear the waves lapping against the rocks outside my window.  I heard the voices of the friends who now make up several communities of artists both in the United States as well as across the Atlantic in the UK and France.  Our love for sketching and painting brought us together and now we share adventures and inspiration.

Patricia and I on the summit of Sugarloaf, Wales. Patricia planned my first walking tour through London and inspires me consistently with her art and her garden bouquets.  She's also a wonderful hiking companion ... not deterred by frigid temperature or fog.

Jill and I have shared great conversations and sketching over dozens of lattes, pints and glasses of wine.  Jill is the fabulous artist who introduced me to Wales.  She's become one of my favorite travel companions.  That's saying a lot since I generally prefer to travel alone.

Of course, I didn't cover everything I had hoped to in Monday's workshop. I worried that the artists might be rolling their eyes at my over-enthusiasm for pen and brush and the unlimited ways to use both whether hiking or working in my studio.

Though I'm grateful for the opportunity to continue sharing my love of art during this period of non-travel, I find it difficult for me to adjust to not being able to tune into the immediate response of artists attending my workshops.  When I teach, I give mini demos for the students as I walk around the room, talking to each one and watching their expressions of joy or dismay.  I alter my methods based on the needs of each group of artists.  Often, the "mistakes" being made around the room are the real successes of the workshop, the breakthroughs and the unlocking of doors to a more direct path to the heart of the inner artist we all have within us.

One of the elements I miss the most is the artists being able to share with one another during the workshop.  Though we were able to share work at the end of the webinar, and answer questions during the webinar ... it isn't the same.  And ... I don't get to chat with the artists over dinner and wine following the workshop.  And ... I don't get to spend the following day on an adventure with one or more of them.  


As happens after each of my live webinar workshops, I don't sleep well that night, wondering if what I presented was worthwhile for those who attended.  Fortunately, as has always happened ... I awake to an email that is reassuring that our time together was well spent.

Here are a few of the comments in yesterday's early morning email:

Dear Chris- Thanks you so much for such an excellent evening. You were absolutely enthralling and it was a very professional session. The feedback from members was so instant that my phone was ‘blinging’ until quite late! I thought I should let you know some of their comments:

  • How very organized and professional tonight’s session was
  • I have just learnt so much about water colour and ink techniques
  • I’m so inspired now
  • Tonight was inspirational
  • Really insightful, loved it Thanks
  • What a great demonstration
  • Quite different for us all and can we meet her in person
  • I’m all fired up to go!
  • What a lovely lady and I look forward to more
  • Her style reminded me of Quentin Blake
  • Really good and I like her abstracts- could we have more please
  • What an entertaining  lady, quite exotic, loved the accent. Send her details and book again!

What an impression you made upon us all. AND they probably haven’t seen your paragliding and ‘mast’ video yet!!! It is clear that they all wish to see you again and hopefully this can be in the flesh soon but if not, by another video link. We are organizing our future calendar  dates for Autumn 2021, and Spring 2022 so please let us know if you are interested in a follow up tutorial. We would be particularly interested in seeing more of your abstract inks and water-colours.

Ink and Watercolour En plein air - Gower Peninsula - Wales

Artists of Dinas Powys, thank you so much!  When I am next in Wales, we will meet up in person to sketch together.  I'm looking forward to you sharing with me some of your favorite spots to sketch in and around Cardiff.  

As I usually do, I've provided follow-up reference material and videos to reinforce what I taught as well as introduce many of the ideas and techniques that I wasn't able to get to because of running out of time.  I'm sharing this link here on my blog, too. 

Link to Page that leads to follow-up videos.

Many of the videos have been created not only for the recent workshop.  I'll be offering a mini course on Ink and Watercolour as one of my Skillshare courses as well as a deep-dive course here on  (

... in case you are confused ... Until about two months ago, I had two separate website: 1)  2)  To simplify my life a bit, I've merged them into one website which you can view by using either of the URLs.

Why explore using ink and watercolour together?

In sifting through the sketchbooks and boxes I realized that when I began slipping my fountain pen into my pocket along with my mini altoid tin of four watercolour pigments, I sketched far more often than I had when using only pencil or pencil and watercolor. Sketching in ink forced me to continue my lines without thinking of erasing them ... correcting them ... forcing them to be "right".  As soon as I would start to ask myself if I should correct the drawing, my energy diminished, my inspiration vanished and I often stopped the sketch.

That's it in a nutshell.  Working in ink taught me to accept my "mistakes" and keep moving on.  As a result I have stacks of sketchbooks that bring me back to rides on the Metro, hikes along mountain trails, glasses of wine at cafe tables and all the people around me.

Some of the sketches are only in ink and often incomplete.  People turn a corner, meals are delivered, the train enters into new territory. Some begin as messy blops of watercolour and are redefined with a few lines of ink afterwards.  Working back and forth between ink and watercolour opened up new possibilities to play with values and mixing color.  Sketching everywhere I go has opened up new friendships and the opportunity to introduce people young and old to the joy of making lines on paper and seeing the world with a keener eye to observe what's around us.

I hope you enjoy the videos that are in the follow-up.  I continue to add to the demos and slideshow videos on my YouTube channel ... on a regular basis.  I'm also taking advantage of posting free videos on the IGTV portion of Instagram ...

Thank you for reading my blog.

Chris Carter


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