Adventure In Sketching II

I’ve been trying to sketch every day, and the results are looking… well, I wouldn’t say “better”, but less clumsy than my first attempts.

I’m trying different styles. I can’t draw very well, so first I tried sketching very lightly with a pencil and then going straight in with the colors, but I think that this style is too loose for me. I’m not comfortable enough with watercolors yet, so I keep making mistakes and making a mess of everything.


Here are the more controlled, pen-and-wash sketches. I prefer this, though so far I’ve only tried it with simple drawings like houses and barns. The moment I tried to add something spontaneous – like the tree and bushes in the sketch of the houses – it ended up looking like a mistake again.

I’ve also tried a mix of the two, like with this flowering branch (it’s a crepe myrtle, in case my sketching skill isn’t up to par) and this tree. I’m more careful with the branch and the tree trunk, but I can afford to be freer with the flower and the foliage because they don’t require a lot of details.

Still a lot to learn, but so far I’m enjoying it.


Adventure In Sketching

It’s been a while since I dabbled at coloring with watercolor, and I’ve missed it, but the whole thing has become so much of a hassle – finding the drawing, printing it out, and tracing it – that I didn’t feel like getting back into it. I briefly contemplated buying those adult coloring books (they’re all in the Vietnamese equivalent of the 99-cent bin now – told you guys it was just a fad) and a box of pencils, but it didn’t really appeal to me. So my art supplies just languished in my drawer for nearly two years.

Lately, though, I’ve been itching to paint again. Inspired by my blog friend, Mike, and several Instagram accounts I’ve been following, I wanted to try actual, proper watercolor painting, not just coloring. There’s another reason, too: I’ve been really busy this summer, but the work is so tedious that my mind was constantly wandering, and I found it difficult to concentrate. I knew I needed something to relax my mind. So I dusted off my brushes, dug out my watercolors (which, thankfully, are still good), and whipped up two quick sketches:

They’re pretty clumsy, but considering I haven’t touched a brush in two years and haven’t painted in even a longer time, I think they’re OK. They took me about an hour, and I felt so much freer with these quick sketches than with the coloring. I don’t have to worry about the techniques, and I can experiment more – I did watch a few Youtube tutorials, but just to get myself in the zone. Plus I had the brilliant idea (if I do say so myself) of basing the sketches on my photos (these are from my Euro trip last year) so I won’t be short of subjects. Let’s see how long I can keep up this new burst of inspiration – I get bored and distracted so easily – but for the moment, I’m enjoying it.

Adventure In Coloring III

More finished coloring pages! Like I said last time, I’m learning how to paint leaves more realistically, and now I’m beginning to get the hang of it. Next stop: learning how to mix colors so that they come out evenly (you can see that sometimes my leaves – in the same painting – are different shades of green), and maybe branching out from my usual subjects of flora and fauna:

coloring - seahorse by 14 shades of greycoloring - poppies by 14 shades of grey

coloring - christmas cactus by 14 shades of grey

coloring - blue hydrangea by 14 shades of greycoloring - pink hyndrangea by 14 shades of grey

coloring - maple leaves by 14 shades of grey

Adventure In Coloring II

I’ve been a little busy these past few weeks so I haven’t colored as much as I did when I first started, but I still got a few new pieces done:

coloring - lilies by 14 shades of greycoloring - heliconia by 14 shades of grey

coloring - foxgloves by 14 shades of greycoloring - bird of paradise by 14 shades of grey

coloring - peaches by 14 shades of greycoloring -sunflowers by 14 shades of grey

coloring - goldfish by 14 shades of grey

These are in chronological order, and looking back at them now, I can see that I’m definitely making progress. I’ve learned to trace more lightly so that it looks like an actual painting and less like a tracing (just compare the lilies, which is one of my earlier ones, with the rest), and I’m getting more confident with color layering too. There are a lot of mistakes, of course – for one, I haven’t quite mastered the art of painting leaves just yet – but I’ll keep at it.

Adventures In Coloring

Coloring books for adults are all the rage these days, aren’t they? It seems I can’t walk into a bookstore without seeing a dozen of them. Usually the hipster in me would turn up her nose at what is so obviously a fad. But then I began to seriously consider buying one after I realized that, to unwind from work, I would do more work – like, if I get tired of my script reading, I would translate a book, or if I get tired of that, I would translate a movie. I needed a new hobby.

For colors, I wanted to use up all the watercolor supplies left over from my art class back in college; however, the paper of these books is not suitable for watercolors, so I decided to make my own.

I went online, found a website with free printable coloring pages (Googling “[blank] line drawing” also works), printed them out, and traced them with graphite paper onto my watercolor sketchbook. It’s a bit time-consuming, but the tracing alone is therapeutic enough, and if I made a mistake with the coloring, I could always trace it again. It’s kind of like painting without having to draw (which is great for me because I can’t draw.)

tracing by 14 shades of grey

coloring by 14 shades of grey

coloring by 14 shades of grey

That one is my first try, so it’s kinda simple. Here are some more finished products:

coloring - fox in burrow by 14 shades of greycoloring - carnation by 14 shades of grey

I did print out a page from “Enchanted Forest“, but the intricate details are a pain to trace and don’t look that great with watercolors:

coloring - fox by 14 shades of grey

The realistic botanical illustrations are much more my style. I’m particularly proud of the berry ones:

coloring - tropical lily by 14 shades of greycoloring - hummingbirds by 14 shades of grey

coloring - strawberries by 14 shades of greycoloring - blackberries by 14 shades of grey

Overall I still have a lot to learn, but I really like it. We’ll see how long I can keep it up, but maybe this coloring fad is not such a fad after all.

Tutorial: Dandelion Tee

dandelion tee

Gods, it’s been so long since I did a tutorial that I had to look at old posts to see how to structure it. Anyway, I’ve been missing my graphic tees lately – both my whale tee and my feather tee are so worn out that I’ve passed them to my niece as nightshirts – so when I saw this dandelion print tee, I immediately knew I wanted to make my own.

dandelion tee tutorial

What You Need:
– A white or light-colored tee
– Fabric markers (I used two, one big, one with a finer tip)
– A piece of cardboard or magazines


1. Put the cardboard or magazines into your shirt so that it lies flat and the marker doesn’t bleed into the back.

dandelion sketchdandelion tee tutorial

2. Start drawing. Begin with the stem of the dandelion, then sketch out the stalk of the seeds, both around the dandelion clock and scattered across the shirt. I don’t draw (I wouldn’t say I can’t draw, but I’m not good), so I actually did a few sketches on paper, to get the feel of it first.

For me the hardest part to get right is actually the fluff of the seeds (Wikipedia tells me it’s called the “pappus”). I used the big marker for the stem and the stalks, then used the fine-tipped one to draw the fluff. I’m not quite happy with the shape (it doesn’t look as full as the inspiration piece), but don’t worry about being exact.

Stretch the fabric to ensure smooth lines. It still puckered a bit for me, but this actually created an almost watercolor look that I liked.

dandelion tee tutorialdandelion tee tutorial

3. Add a few seed pods here and there, and you’re done! Let the shirt dry completely, and remember to wash it inside out from now on.

dandelion tee

I’m A T-Rex!

t-rex sweater tutorial by 14 shades of grey

I’m not big on trend, but one of the trends I’m sorry I miss this fall/winter is the animal graphic sweater. I mean, I’m a cat lady, it’s pretty much required that I have something like this in my closet, right? But, since it doesn’t seem like that trend has trickled down to Vietnam just yet, I’m going to make my own.

I decided to go with a silhouette instead of a full-color image because it’s less kitschy and well, it’s just easier that way.

t-rex sweater tutorial by 14 shades of grey

What You Need:
– An old sweater (the baggier the better, I found, since it adds to the whole retro vibe)
– Scrap fabric (solid color is fine, but I like the look of a printed silhouette)
– Marker (fabric or permanent, it doesn’t matter) or chalk, scissors, fray check (optional)
– Pins, needle and thread

t-rex sweater tutorial by 14 shades of grey

1. Print out your image. It took me a while to choose what animal I wanted, but in the end I was inspired by this shirt to pick a T-Rex. Who doesn’t want a T-Rex sweater?

2. Trace it on your fabric (I thought about adding an eye to it, but then decided not to because it looked a bit goofy.)

3. Cut the image out (I also added some fray check to the edge to keep it from fraying.) Pin that sucker to your sweater. You don’t want it to move around while you’re sewing!

4. Stitch. I used a basic straight stitch but a blanket stitch would look good too.

And you’re done!

t-rex sweater by 14 shades of grey