How has my Looseness changed in a decade?

July 8, 2022 | 2 Comments

Last week, in our weekly Watercolour livestream I was discussing looseness and I decided to revisit a sketch that I did over 10 years ago.

Back in 2011, I wanted to see if I could do an architectural sketch in the style of Matthew Rice. Although I failed miserably (attempting it on a Friday night when I was tired probably wasn’t a good idea), it was an important exercise for me as it made me clearly see my own style and accept my looseness. See the original article here.

To make the old version of Swakeleys comparable with my new one, I decided to add a little white gel pen to a printout of the original. This very minor addition helped significantly to finish off the slightly blobby windows on the left of the sketch. (Note: Because I’m left-handed I generally work from right to left.)

For this new version of Swakeleys I decided to do it late one night when I was tired so that it would be done in similar circumstances. I was intentionally drawing at a  rapid pace and I was thinking, as I was working, that I’m able to describe the details much easier these days. Using the fude pen helps in this regard.

And here is the finished sketch with loose watercolour washes and lots of little white gaps which add to the liveliness of the final result.

Note: During the livestream (Watercolour Livestream 3 – replay found in the Review 1 section) I shared some thoughts about how important it is when working loosely to have your brushstrokes respond to the subject you are painting.

And just for fun… I decided to do one more version.

This was done at a larger scale (in an A4 portrait book) and at a much more relaxed style. I decided for consistency to use my fude pen again and wasn’t trying to be super precise. This is as neat as I can comfortably go and there is no way that I would have the patience to do the full facade in this way. 🙂

It’s really fun to look back at old work and see how my basic mark-making is still the same but I’m more easily able to ‘say more’ with my lines.

Have you ever tried to re-do an old sketch?


  • Geoff Heath says:

    Hi Liz. This is where I am now coincidentally.
    Retired now, very structured sketches for a hundred years ?. But now I’m trying to loosen up with three washes only in colours which, I hope, relate to each other.
    Buildings only for now though.
    Your articles are very useful and uncannily ‘of the moment’.

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