Cows and Clouds

Sketch by Sarah Sullivan of cows in a field under a cloudy sky

Cows and Clouds

I am getting a kick out of painting cows here in Bavaria. Just about every walk away from the center of Garmisch-Partenkirchen offers the opportunity to sketch these beautiful animals. It is still rainy and the sky is filled with clouds. I liked how the colors of the clouds were reflected on this particular cow.

This is a 9 X 9-inch gouache sketch on black paper.

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Bavarian Sheep

Sketch by Sarah Sullivan of Bavarian Sheep

Bavarian Sheep

It was a wild and rainy day today here near Garmisch-Partenkirchen and the sheep who yesterday were at the far edge of their pasture were back in the center. It may be that with their heavy coats that a warm sunny day is too hot for them. In any case, some of the flock chomped away at the grass close to me and I was able to get this sketch between rain showers.

This is a 9 X 6 inch gouache sketch on black paper.

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Bavarian Cows

Sketch by Sarah Sullivan of Bavarian Cows

Bavarian Cows

Yesterday evening as we walked through the Bavarian countryside at dusk, we came across a flock of sheep. The sheep lifted their heads and stared us down and I was charmed by them. So I planned to return today with my sketchbook. However, when I arrived on the scene mid morning, the flock was in the shade at the far end of the pasture and I could not see them well enough to capture their likeness.

Fortunately, there were also cows nearby and I was able to get a few sketches of them as they grazed. I liked the lines of their necks and backs.

This is a 9 X 6 gouache sketch on black paper.

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Drawing in the Bavarian Alps

Sketch of an Alpine scene near Hammersbach


I have somehow made it from Denmark to Bavaria in Southern Germany without posting a single sketch. Fortunately, I will have lots of time this week to sketch and hope to learn something about painting alpine scenes.

This 12 X 12- inch gouache sketch shows a few of the large mountains that rise above the small town of Hammersbach. The mountains are dominating yet distant and I am determined to figure out how to capture both of these two features in a single sketch.

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Old Friends at Work

Sketch by Sarah Sullivan of Two Old Friends Working Together

Old Friends at Work

My husband and I have been visiting Denmark. One of its attractions is meeting up with our many old friends. The first Dane we ever met was in grad school 1975 and since that time I have often sketched this particular friend and my husband talking together as they work. I enjoy half listening to the two of them and am glad they don’t mind my scrutiny and products.

Today’s sketch captures a characteristic pattern of the way these two interact. The talker, who is usually speculating about something, looks off into space while the listener looks intently at the speaker. There is little eye contact during this phase of the interaction. I think that this is the body language that happens when ideas are being co-constructed.

This sketch was made using Procreate on my iPad.

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Under the Influence of Münter and Calder

Sketch by Sarah Sullivan of children playing under a sculpture by Calder

Under the Influence of Münter and Calder

I was delighted to see that the Louisiana Museum in Denmark has a retrospective exhibition of Gabriele Münter’s paintings and photographs. It is an impressive collection and covers the 50- 60 years of her work. It was an opportunity to look at her brushwork and saturated colors up close and I made the most of it. I especially liked her paintings that included bold outlines.

Afterwards I sat in the museum’s Calder sculpture garden and watched people enjoying the sunshine against the view towards Sweden across the straight. I got a kick out of the children, dressed in their museum best, who raced around under the sculptures. I did not have my sketchbook with me but later used a few photographs for reference to make this sketch, while still under the influence of both Münter and Calder.

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Woods Near Vaerelose Denmark

Sketch by Sarah Sullivan of a Woods Near Værløse, Denmark

Woods Near Vaerelose Denmark

There is a woods near where we are staying in Vaerelose, north of Copenhagen. It is full of tall trees whose lines are partially emphasized with sunlight in the late afternoon. It is a beautiful place and one I would like to return to if ever I have the chance.

This is a gouache, pastel, and watercolor pencil sketch on black paper.

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Where the Seas Meet

Sketch by Sarah Sullivan of where the Baltic and North Seas Meet

Where the Seas Meet

I drove up to the tip of Jutland, to the small town of Skagen, and then beyond Skagen to its northernmost point, Grenen. I went to Skagen to see the town where the Danish Impressionists gathered in the summer to paint, particularly to see the house of Anna Ancher. But I was most moved by standing on the tip of the beach at Grenen, and seeing where the North Sea and the Baltic Sea meet. You can actually see a difference in color between the two seas, something that surprised and delighted me. I tried to capture this experience with this little sketch that I did while standing on the beach. It is a gouache sketch across two pages in a small Moleskine sketchbook.

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Odds and Ends

We drove north from Bonn late this afternoon and stopped much later in Flensburg for the night. Since this was not a good day for sketching, I decided to post some sketches from the past week.

One of the pleasures of travel is there are so many novel scenes to sketch. However, travel also requires sticking to a schedule, which for me results in many unfinished sketches.

All but the final sketch are drawing I began with pastel lines on black paper and then had to stop before I finished. Several had nothing more than some simple lines and a few also had some unfinished gouache paint.

As I sat in the passenger seat today, I imported each of these into Procreate where I added color, turning each of these into a sketch that combines both traditional and digital painting.


The Mud Maid, a Sculpture at the Lost Gardens of Heligan

The Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall, besides having many varied and wonderful walks, has several sculptures. The Mud Maid is a sculpture of a sleeping woman whose hair and clothing is made of living plants and mosses. She is an organic part of the garden and I wanted to convey her beauty and meaning.


Saint Michael’s Mount at Low Tide

Cornwall’s Saint Michael’s Mount at low tide is as close to a fairy tale castle as I have ever seen. I wanted to draw this so people could get a sense of some of the dramatic magnetism that the castle radiates.


Street in Marazion

The narrow streets of Marazion twist around long standing buildings and leave a minimum of space for cars.


Cornwall Hillside

This is a view of the hills above Marazion. I drew it from the lawn of Saint Michael’s Mount. I love the look of the old stone buildings rising above the shore.


Street Cafe in Bonn

I sat at a sidewalk cafe in Bonn and started sketching while waiting for my group to join me. I liked how the couple leaned back in their seats while they watched people go by. I was able to jot down some simple lines and then even add some paint on the right side before I was joined by my group and needed to leave.


Bonn Bicyclist

This is the only sketch from this group that I actually completed without adding digital paint. I liked the lines of the trees and sidewalk and the movement of the bicyclist and the day was ending and wanted to show it in this sketch.


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Bonn Beer Garden

Sketch by Sarah Sullivan of a couple at a Beer Garden in Bonn

Bonn Beer Garden

We are in Bonn visiting an old friend. The weather is gorgeous and we took a long walk through the pedestrian area in the city center. Later we stopped at a beer garden for a drink and a sketch.

This is a 12 X 12- inch gouache sketch on black paper.

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Looking Towards Marazion from St. Michael’s Mount

The Cornish countryside is really special. The way the shapes of fields and hillside fit together is mesmerizing and I wish I could stay here and learn how to paint them. Today I sketched Marazion and its surrounding hills from the slope of St. Michael’s Mount, just across the bay.

We spent an afternoon at the Lost Gardens of Heligan a few days ago. The gardens are lush and the story of the gardens is heartwarming and encouraging. I am going to post a sketch from there, perhaps tonight, but notice that a sketch from the garden is somehow posted on some versions of this post. So if you are seeing a sketch of an odd blue structure, that is from the Lost Gardens and not Marazion!

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Along the Cornish Coast

Along the Cornish Coast

Although the climate in Cornwall is relatively mild, I tested the water and found I lacked the courage to join the many enthusiastic swimmers at Marazion’s coast. As I sketched instead, these three sisters caught my attention and made me remember how much fun I used to have playing in the water as a child.

This is a 8 X 5 inch gouache sketch on black paper.

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St Michael’s Mount

St Michael’s Mount

We have stopped for a few days in the small Cornish town of Marazion, known for St Michael’s Mount. St Michael’s Mount is a small tidal island topped off with a large castle. This sketch shows it during high tide. During low tide most of the water between the island and shore moves out and people walk back and forth between the island and town.

This is a 12 X 12 inch gouache sketch.

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Between the Azores and Brittany

Last Sunday evening our ship left the Azores Islands and this morning we docked at Brest on Frances’ Brittany coast. Here are five sketches from the last five days.

Watching the Azores Islands Disappear

It was still warm as we left the Azores and I was able to sketch comfortably on deck. I love the way the passengers attentively study the sea during departures and arrivals. Each stands alone yet companionably, and I wanted to capture a bit of this feeling with this sketch.


Azores Sunset

This sketch is also from our departure from the Azores but a bit later in the evening. Both of these two sketch are with gouache in a 9 X 9 sketchbook with black paper.


IPad Sketch of Two Musicians

I had my iPad and sketched a bit while I was listening to some of the performers on the ship.


Bow of the Prinsendam

This and the next sketch are of the Prinsendam’s bow. Although my California bones are finding it cold here in the Atlantic, I was able to sketch the first one while standing up on the deck above the bridge. Later, I retreated to the warmth of my cabin and made a second painting of the bow, using the first sketch and some photos. Both are gouache sketches in a large 12 X 12 sketchbook with black paper. The one below is my favorite because of the shapes and colors.

Bow of the Prinsendam ll

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During Four Days at Sea

During these past four days at sea, I sketched very little. But here are three sketches, two of people aboard the Prinsendam, and a third sketch, my favorite, of the bottom of a lifeboat.

Sketch by Sarah of Two People Looking out the Window of the Prinsendam.

Looking out the Window of the Prinsendam as the Bermuda Islands Recede

Sketch by Sarah Sullivan of Two People Playing Scrabble.


Sketch by Sarah Sullivan of a Lifeboat above the Deck of the Prinsendam

Lifeboat above the Deck of the Prinsendam

This sketch shows part of a lifeboat above the deck. I particularly like this sketch for two reasons. First, it simplifies the light and shapes of this view. Second, it conveys a bit of the feel of the ship’s roll through its uneven horizon and deck lines.

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At Sea on the Prinsendam

Today our ship, the Prinsendam, is at Hamilton, Bermuda. We got up early to watch the ship come in through the Bermuda straights and then went on a walking tour of this lovely port.

Here are three sketches from our past three days at sea.

This first sketch shows a few people at a happy hour Sunday on a choppy sea. I may have been projecting my own feelings on these three innocents bystanders, but it was hard to find the ‘happy’ in their body language.

Monday was calmer and sunny, and I had fun sketching people sunning around the pool.

This last sketch shows my sister looking out to sea from a bench that is placed at the edge of the highest deck to which passengers have access.

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Cruise Security

We passed through cruise security and then waited to board, just long enough for me to pull out a small sketchbook.

We are off on a two week crossing of the Atlantic, our first cruise. As a child I was an avid reader and the ocean voyagers fascinated me. I don’t know how many books I read admiring their love of the sea, their bravery and their ingenuity as they faced challenges of a bygone era. I am looking forward to getting a sense of this as I cross the Atlantic.

I will be sketching away and posting as I have internet.

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I Was Reminded

Sketch by Sarah Sullivan of a girl with flowers

I Was Reminded

There was something about the evening light tonight that reminded me of a sketch I made in 1984 of my daughter that hangs in her old bedroom. That sketch is below.

We were hiking in a Colorado meadow, and my daughter picked a few flowers. She was so gorgeous that I convinced her to pose for me, which she patiently did, and I quickly drew her with a pen on newsprint. I love this old black and white sketch but have always remembered how the sky was lit with a slow alpine glow that seemed to come from within her. I have been meaning for a long time to capture my memory of that moment and light and it felt good tonight to finally give it a try.



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Into the Waves

Sketch by Sarah Sullivan of people swimming in waves

Into the Waves

In mid-April, I sat on the beach and sketched swimmers in a wild sea. I did not post this then because I liked another better that day. The original sketch is below, and today I wondered if I could improve it by making additions with watercolor pencil.

Part of the difference between the two is due to taking the photo under different lamps, but I do like the way the color pencil brightened up the picture and let me develop the figures and waves further. I wish I had not used quite so much watercolor pencil but am very happy to be learning to use the two media together.



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Three Trees by a Highway

Sketch by Sarah Sullivan of Three Trees by a Highway

Three Trees by a Highway

The other day when I drove past Sunrise Highway in East San Diego County, I stopped and took some pictures. Today, continuing to experiment with watercolor pencil and gouache, I used the photos as reference for this sketch. Although I was too heavy handed with the pencil, I like the way it helped me capture the desert colors, especially the shadows.

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Nastursiums and Jasmine

Sketch by Sarah Sullivan of my Nasturtiums and Jasmine

Nasturtiums and Jasmine

I am getting ready for a long trip and am in the preparation phase of taking care of household chores. So this afternoon I went out to weed in the garden. But who could weed when the nasturtiums and jasmine are so gorgeous?

As I sketched I impulsively tried something new for me, watercolor pencil on black paper. Then later this evening I made some parts of the sketch brighter by overpainting portions with gouache. I like this look a lot, and it was fun to combine so much drawing with painting.  I may have to pack my watercolor pencils for this trip.

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From a Rooftop Near Yuma

I left Phoenix and drove across the desert today, stopping near Yuma to visit my friend from college. It was getting dark when we went up on her rooftop to watch the sun drop below view. It was so gorgeous that we both had to sketch. This is the view looking east away from the sunset. The mountain has very little foliage and it reflected the color of the setting sky.

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Phoenix’s Best Season is Spring

Yesterday morning I sat in my sister’s yard and worked at capturing the lushness of her plants and the eagerness of the birds at the feeders.

Some people think of Phoenix as an arid and barren place and when I come through here in July I am inclined to agree. However, Phoenix in April is full of flowering plants and trees, the skies are a clear blue, and purple mountains edge the view in every direction. Spring is definitely Phoenix’s season.

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After the Party

After the Party

My sister hosted a baby shower today for our nearly arrived grand nephew. Her house and garden were gorgeous and it was so much fun to visit with everyone. Afterwards we sat on the patio and talked about it while my sister posted photos to social media. I got a sketch of her in the process and then later imported it into Procreate where I finished it.

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My Sister at Night with a Plant

I haven’t sketched since leaving Hawaii for San Diego and then Phoenix so it felt really good to do a quick sketch of my sister this evening. She was working on a project at the table and I liked the shapes of the chair and her body against the darkness of the sliding door.

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In the Waves

It was a stormy evening and I sketched my grown kids as they played in the waves. I liked the way they leapt into the swells, raising their arms, and shouting. It was good to see them having so much fun.

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Along the East Coast of O’ahu

This is a sketch of the beach along Waimanalo Beach today. It was wonderful, windy, and wild, and the waves came way up on the shore.

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At the Beach

Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve in Oahu Hawaii is a snorkeling park full of sea life and coral. It also had a very cute family that I had a chance to sketch as I sat behind them on the beach.

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View from the Lanai

I painted today from the corner of the lanai, or porch, that wraps around the side of the rental where we are staying here in Oahu, Hawaii. It offers a mesmerizing view of the sea that is set off by ironwood trees and shrubbery. I like the contrast between the verticals of the tree trunks and the horizontal sweep of the sea and shoreline.

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Looking North along Waimanalo Beach

This morning I got up early and walked down to the beach for this sketch. Yesterday I painted the view along the beach looking south. Today’s sketch is from the same spot but looking north.

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