I just finished a watercolor portrait for an internet friend in Finland. The original painting is up for sale in my Etsy shop.

Emil 2019
“Emil” 10 x 7 inch watercolor on cold pressed watercolor paper #140 by Marlene Lee


Watercolor Portraits Practice

I’ve been getting up around 5. So to make use of the time, I practice watercolor portraits. My goal is 30 then 50 and eventually 100. These are done on Strathmore Visual Journal, 140# watercolor paper. These are just a sampling.

A Page of Bell Peppers in Watercolor

Bell Peppers 2018
Bell Peppers, 9 x 12 inches watercolor on Strathmore “Visual Journal” 140 lbs. cold pressed watercolor paper.

Here’s the process of one of the bell peppers.

“What’s in My Bag” Sketch

I had been looking high and low for a bag that would carry my sketching supplies as well as my personal items. The criteria is that it would not get heavy on long walks but feels light when I’m running around town doing errands. The beauty of a Timbuk2 is their very adjustable strap. With just one flick I can adjust the strap without taking the whole bag off.

In my Timbuk2 Metro bag I carry my sketching supplies such as a small Moleskine Sketchbook, a Cotman Watercolor Pocket set, waterbrush, fountain pen and mechanical pencil. Also my personal items – wallet, tissue, lotion, smart phone, Epipen, waterbottle ….

What's in My Bag 071018.jpeg
What’s in My Bag? watercolor and pen, 5 x 8 inches in Moleskine sketcbhook

Materials: Moleskine sketchbook, watercolor, TWSBI fountain pen filled with Noodlers’ Lexington Ink.


30×30 Direct Watercolor 2018 challenge

There are days 13 through 17 with a couple of days missed. I found flowers harder to paint and had only one success. Then I switched over to people. Maybe I’ll attempt flowers again.

Day 13 White Flower
Day 13 White Flower, 7 x 7 inches watercolor by Marlene Lee
Day 15 Couple Walking 30x30DW
Day 15 Couple Walking 7 x 7 inches watercolor by Marlene Lee
Day 16 Unicycle Dancer
Day 16 Unicycle Daner, 7 x 7 inches watercolor by Marlene Lee
Day 17 Performer
Day 17 Performer, 7 x 7 inches watercolor by Marlene Lee

The 30 Day Challenge

I’m excited to say that I’m participating in the 30×30 Direct Watercolor 2018 Challenge. What I’m understanding about doing direct watercolor is to paint with pure watercolor. I cheated. I started out with a gestural pencil sketch and then add watercolor in a free forming fashion. The originator of the challenge is Marc Taro Holmes and his blog post explains more on the process.

Day 1_Pears_30x30DW
Day 1 Pears, 7 x 7 inches, watercolor and pencil by Marlene Lee
Day 2_Strawberries_30x30DW
Day 2 Strawberries, 7 x 7 inches, watercolor and pencil by Marlene Lee
Day 3_Blueberries_30x30DW
Day 3 Blueberries, 7 x 7 inches, watercolor and pencil by Marlene Lee

My materials: Stillman&Birn Delta series, watercolor and pencil, brush – Isabey pocketbrush. 

My set up is using the early morning light.


Quick Watercolor Portraits

The nice thing about the internet is its source of references. I have collected photos of ethnic faces to paint. I haven’t had much time or energy to paint in oils. But a 12 pan watercolor palette and a Moleskine sketchbook that I carry always in my handbag and my smartphone, I can paint anytime or anywhere.

Abstract Nature painting

I took a workshop taught by Stacey Vetter called Abstract Nature. The focus as described in the class description is to capture “the essence of still life objects from the natural world.”

Stacey had us do a series of exercises – working with brushes, sumi ink and watercolor. Her critiques pointed out three essential design qualities that attracts the eye – scale, texture, and light versus dark.

Below is what I had  done during the workshop.


My first attempt using this concept outside the workshop was a palm tree.

Palm Tree at Chestnut Park.jpg
Palm Tree at Chestnut Park, 3.5 x 5.5 inches from Handbook Journal sketchbook, watercolor.