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Sketching Materials

new supplies

Sketching Supplies
I have developed this list to maximize your success at sketching  quickly on location. These items are all you need to use my methods. So, please leave your other art supplies at home.

   List #1
  • Sketch book: white or ivory color, Mixed Media surface 5 x 8” to 8 x 10”: 100 to 180 lb. paper with slight “tooth” (texture). Suggested: Visual Journal  “mixed media” surface or Diseno all-purpose sketch 15.2 x 22.9 cm size
   Black Micron pen, size .08 (waterproof ink) or similar
  • Black Brush Pen: Sakura Pigma MB or Faber-Castell SB or similar
  • Aquarelle (water soluble) pencils:, about 8 colors MAXIMUM: burnt sienna, olive green, indigo, red, purple, orange, teal, yellow ochre.  Caran d’Ache Supracolor or Faber-Castell Albrecht Durer are best brands. 

  • a pencil sharpener (Spanish: sacapuntas) with container for shavings
  • Waterbrush with a hollow barrel (medium or large tip) to fill with water, used to liquify the pigment in aquarelle pencil.
  • Optional: rainbow pencil (changes color as you turn it)

 List #2
   • Sketch book
: 5.5 x 8.5  Toned (tan or gray) sketch paper,

  •  Black Micron pen, size .08 (waterproof ink) or similar
  •  Black Brush Pen: Sakura Pigma MB or Faber-Castell SB or similar
  • Prismacolor-type Black pencil (NOT graphite!)
  • Prismacolor-type White pencil
  • One or two bright-colored pencils: red, yellow, light blue/green
  • Uni-ball Signo white gel pen. like a ball-point pen, used for opaque white lines. (hard to find in Mexico).
  • a pencil sharpener with container for shavings


  •  VERY useful for your comfort and safety: sun hat or visor, drinking water, sunscreen, a light-weight collapsible stool. In San Miguel, stools are available for about 120 pesos at Calle Insurgentes #50.

I strongly recommend that you purchase a complete supplies kit from me. This will save you time, and avoid confusion about what materials are needed/or not. Everything comes in a clear vinyl hands-free pouch:

            List #1:  $1,000 pesos (about $50 USD)

            List #2:  $800 pesos (about $40 USD)

Rhoda Draws India!

street-DelhiI will be making a presentation of the sketches (and photos) I made on my recent trip to India:

Location: Gallery 111 at the ICB (Industrial Center Building), 480 Gate Five Road, Sausalito, CA

Date/time: Thursday, April 24th  from 4:30 to 6:00 pmAbhaneri-3

Catching up

AAM-birdmanFinally back, posting after a long hiatus. I was working on two major projects, the 4th edition of my book on using Corel Painter, and a 6-hour set of video tutorials on Painter.

This sketch was done at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. The figure is a mythological character, “Thai birdman.”AAM-birdman-photo

Recent sketches

Here is my quick sketch of the ornate facade of Classic Billiards on 4th street in San Rafael, CA. Basic ink sketch done on location, color added later with water-soluble colored pencils. Finishing touches are the opaque white scribbles on the windows, made with a Sakura Souffle pen.


October 2013 Sketching retreat at Asilomar

My first SketchXpress art retreat will be held at Asilomar State Beach and Conference Grounds in Pacific Grove, CA. You will learn my quick sketching and art journaling methods in an idyllic setting. Beginners welcome!


The buildings and furnishings of this historic “Refuge by the Sea” were designed by Architects of the Arts and Crafts movement, notably Julia Morgan. We will have the opportunity to sketch in a variety of breathtaking natural settings. You’ll also want to sit and sketch people relaxing in the rustic charm of the social hall, which boasts an antique billiard table and elegant light fixtures. See for details and images.


Saturday, October 5 through Monday Oct 7, 2013.


Based on double-occupancy at Asilomar Conference Grounds, cost is around $400 per participant. This includes location sketching demos and workshops, excursions to Monterey Bay Aquarium, a guided nature walk in Point Lobos and more.  Not included are art supplies, meals and transport to and from Asilomar. I will help organize car pools to minimize travel expense. Shared meals at local cafes and restaurants will provide additional opportunities for sketching as well as socializing.

I need to have 5 or 6 confirmed signups by August 1st for this event to happen.
Right now, just let me know if you are interested, and if the dates work for you.
List of basic sketching supplies provided on request.

Accuracy? Fuggedaboudit!

At a recent demonstration of quick sketching techniques I was asked how I handle the challenges of accurately drawing such things as complex architecture. My reply was that I do not concern myself much with being accurate. I freely change the relative sizes and positions of items in the sketch, to simplify a scene or create a focal point. I usually sacrifice accuracy for speed.

In this recent sketch at a market day I included a tall tower and really messed up the geometry at the top. Not a problem, as the center of attention is much lower.


Sketching people


Several of the students in my Quick Sketch workshop are interested in sketching people. There are different approaches, depending on whether the people are very small, in a crowd, or an important element of the foreground. These two sketches were made yesterday on a pier in Sausalito, CA. I picked a spot about 40 feet from several young men seated on a bench. They all had very different “poses” making for a nice variety of gestures. I started the group of four people (plus one bird) on tan paper with graphite pencil, then switched to a Fine point black ink pen. Some of the pencil strokes are still visible. The brightest areas in the scene was the water, and I made several horizontal scribbles with a white Prismacolor pencil.


I moved to a different spot for a sketch with two of the original people. They are young Asian men with very different body types—one is stocky and the other very thin. I began with a very thin line ink pen (Micron.02). These lines were so thin they could easily be “corrected” with the Fine line Faber Castell pen. A quick impression of the San Francisco skyline and a waterfront restaurant in the background provides an environment for these fellows. Neither of them had any idea that I was drawing them.

Colorful Market Sketching


It was a lovely day for outdoor sketching, and I took advantage of the Wednesday Farmers Market in Corte Madera Town Center. The bright orange tent and the magenta table cloth of the gourmet Indian foods attracted my attention. Photo shows my view.

first stage: water-soluble pencil layout
first stage: water-soluble pencil layout

I squeezed the scene a bit to accommodate a nearly square format. Dark purple aquarelle (water-soluble) pencil established the layout and some of the darkest areas.

second stage: quick color and tone added with side of pencil point
stage 2: quick color and tone added with side of pencil point

Using the side grip on each pencil, I filled shapes with color quickly. Notice the direction of the  strokes

stage 3: water appliled to pencil strokes. Intensify some areas and dissolve others.
stage 3: water applied to pencil strokes.

The water brush was used to intensify some areas and blend others. I left some areas dry for a variety of textures.

Final: thicker black strokes added with Brush-tip pen.
Final: thicker black strokes added with Brush-tip pen.

A few details are added with fine line ink strokes. The darkest edges and shadows are accented with a brush-tip (B) pen.

The fellow doing business under the orange tent came over while I was working…that rarely happens when I am doing “stealth sketching!” After I showed him the finished result, he gave me a dollar off on a package of spinach besan pura.




Sketching while-U-wait

While waiting for repairs on my car this morning, I spent a half hour at La Crossant Cafe in the canal district of San Rafael. When I enter any cafe or resturant, I look for a spot that has the best point of view (POV) for observation.

La-Croissant,-San-RafaelI began on the right side of my 5 x 8″ tan paper sketchbook, using a a fine point black ink pen, and white Prismacolor pencil for highlights. The guys sitting at the counter were back lit and almost completely in shadow. I used some “smart scribbling” to create the cross-hatching shading and textures. The big rectangle of white behind them represents the window filled with bright light.

I still had some time, and about half of my scone left, so I turned to another area and sketched the fellow holding his smart phone. I actually messed up drawing his hand (hands are a challenge!), so I filled it in to make a silhouette. Additional ink scribbles going up his arm help make sense of that shadow. It was fun showing the sugar and condiment containers as they appear on three tables, getting closer to my position.

Quick Sketching workshop schedule

Schedule for my next Quick Sketch sessions at
Riley Street Art Supplies,
1138 4th Street, San Rafael:

Saturday, January 26 
Saturday, February 2
Saturday, March 23
     from 2 to 5 pm
 Fee: $50 per session
Quick sketch techniques help you develop more confidence in drawing, and enable you to “loosen up”. We’ll do some warm-ups, then go out as a group and sketch in nearby locations. Continuing and first-time students are welcome. In cold or wet weather, we’ll sketch in local cafes or other indoor venues. To sign up and get materials list, please contact me.
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