Sketchbook African Violet Ink Wash

Sketchbook African Violet Ink Wash


This weekend I had planned to go to the beach.

It’s a short bus ride from my home and very pleasant to spend time there on one of my precious days off.

Unfortunately, it continued to rain which seemed to be set in for the whole day.

My original idea was to go to the coast and do some sketching of the shore, the seaside, and seascapes.

I’m particularly interested in the pebbles and what is brought up on the beach by the high tide.

Objects such as shells and seaweed are always interesting things to draw.

However, I decided to stay at home because of the incessant downpour.

African Violet

I have a little African Violet plant that I received around Christmas when it was first in bloom.

I’ve managed to keep this plant alive and even though the first flowers faded and went.

Now five months later in May I finally have the second bloom of glorious violet flowers.

The houseplant is quite a bit bigger now and the petals are larger and more prolific.

I decided that this little plant would be my nature sketch for today which I will do at home in my creator studio.

Not being able to visit the beach to do some sketching this weekend home sketching is the compromise.


In my Leuchtturm A5 sketchbook, I start with a border on my page, even if I don’t stick to it, because it does help to align the image.

Pencil Sketch

Using a 2H pencil I sketched lightly to layout the subject and ensure that the main petals were slightly off center in my composition.

I added a few of the leaves for balance and drew some of them over the border which I thought would be an interesting thing to do.

Black Pen

I went over the sketch with a Faber Castell Artist Pitt 0.3mm pen in black and firmed up the shapes and main details of the plant.

Although the petals are smooth and don’t have much texture the leaves themselves are quite deeply veined.

Upon close inspection I realized how the curves were happening on these leaves even though they are quite furry leaves, they are still somewhat raised and pillow-like where the veins run.

I drew many of the veins on the leaves with the pen.

I could have drawn more leaves, but it seemed overwhelming and as there are plenty of leaves on the plant than there are flowers.

I didn’t want the greenery to overshadow the lovely purple blooms which are the main reason for the drawing in the first place.

Ink Wash

I had recently been watching a YouTube channel by Alex at The Daily Nature Journal about using botanical inks in his drawings and this inspired me to dig out some of my inks.

Not that I have botanical inks (not yet), I have normal inks, but I did have one bottle of Purple Mojo ink from Private Reserve ink company which I’ve had for years.

I dug out this old inkpot, shook it up and got out my palette.

I took a regular paint brush and dipped it in water first and put some water on my palette just a few drops because I was going to dilute the ink down.

It was serendipitous that I happened to have purple ink and I was drawing an African Violet. How convenient is that?

With a wet paintbrush I dipped into the ink and strained quite a bit of it off against the top of the bottle and then ran the ink into the water pool on my palette.

I mixed up the water and ink which dissolves immediately. The water thinned the ink down which is what I was going for.

Ink is not like paint where you must work the pigment, inks dilute rapidly.

To dry paper, I washed the purple ink onto my violet petals. I did end up with quite a few hard edges and thought that I perhaps could have wet the paper beforehand, but I kept going.

I painted a first light coat on all the petals and let it dry a little bit.

I applied a second coat of the same consistency of ink wash over the petals as well.

I let the second coat dry.

Finally, I came back with some stronger ink, straight out of the inkpot, and added a few dimensional shadows to the petals for interest.

I let the ink thoroughly dry before I moved on, but I have to say that with working with ink gets on all your fingers. It stains everywhere and I had to stop and do some washing up of my hands and the palette and brush before I went any further.


Ideally, I would have done the leaves in green ink, if I had any, but I didn’t, so I turned to my Faber Castell Pitt Artist Brush Pens.

I started running the Warm Grey I around the edges of the leaves because they are much lighter at the edges and I did that for all the leaves.

Next, I took my May Green 170 and colored in some of the main bodies of the leaves.

It’s quite a bright green, so I was a little scared of that, but it turned out well in the end.

The second green I used was called Earth Green 172 and with this I brought more shadows and was running along the edges of the veins and enhancing the puffiness of these leaves.

I tried to work quickly with these Faber Castell Artist Brush Pens because the longer you leave them on the page the darker the color will become.

I went round all the leaves adding the darker shadows to them.

The fourth colour I added to the leaves with a light Warm Grey I 270.

I used it to blend the edges which had the light cream out into the mid green.

I just softened the color down a bit as the leaves seemed a little bit like a hedera helix leaf which has lighter edges and African Violet leaves are really not white at all on the edges, they are just lighter.

I continued a little bit further with the Earth Green just adding finer points along the ridges of the veins on the leaves until I felt I was happy with the work.

The little middle parts of the flowers which are super bright yellow I just added a few dots of Cadmium Yellow 107 in there.

I could have left those areas slightly larger as they did seem to be overwhelmed and crowded out by the purple ink


Finally, I added a light Ivory 103 into the main background of the drawing excluding the border.

I felt this soft color lifted the image slightly without overpowering the plant itself.

I had considered creating the background in yellow to highlight the golden bits in the middle of the petals, but I felt it would be too harsh on such a delicate drawing.


I’m quite pleased with how this sketch turned out.

It was a challenge to work with the ink because you really must work swiftly.

In future drawings I will probably consider combining perhaps a purple and a blue ink to get different colours or something like that.

I do have other inks but they are metallics like silver and gold.

I do not have a red, green or yellow ink which I think I might need to purchase soon.

So, does that signal another trip to my local art store? Yaay!

Have a creative day.



Aspiring Artist Activity

  • Create a simple sketch of a flower that you have in your home or garden.
  • Practice using inks and thin them down.
  • Try to use one or more colored inks on your drawing.
  • You may use markers, colored pencils or even watercolor for the rest.
  • Get creative.


Show your work on social with the hashtag #AHAinkviolets, so we can see what you create.

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St Chad’s Church Poulton-le-Fylde, Ink and Watercolor

St Chad’s Church Poulton-le-Fylde, Ink and Watercolor

St Chad’s Church Poulton, Pen and Ink and Watercolour

This is a pen and ink and watercolor painting that I created this week.

The method that I used is similar to the Sketch Journal Page from last time, but without the commentary that goes with a journal entry.


I do enjoy drawing buildings. I find them easier than people or animals which always seem to look a little weird.

I joined my local Urban Sketchers group the year before lockdown and I found it very interesting to draw what was in my city.

Back then I was using a pencil and Tombow markers because I had no paints or crayons for that matter. I didn’t know just how much I was going to love getting back into art after so many years.

Sacred Places as Subject Matter

Sacred places are typically buildings, groves, fields or monuments that have special meaning for people. They can be places where people congregate and find community.

St Chad’s Church

Many years ago, I lived in a small village near St Chad’s church in Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire, England. I was christened in that church, so it seems a good sacred building to start with.

I found some images of St Chad’s church online, and looking at the images for reference, I drew the front façade of the building and added a tree.

I suspect that it is a Norman church by the square tower, but that is really as far as my knowledge goes.

In a way it is an inconspicuous building as churches go.

It seems to have been built between 1086 and 1094. You can read more about the history of this St Chad’s church here.

Each spring there is a wonderful display of lilac and purple crocuses over the entrance lawns.


Pencil Sketch

Using an HB pencil, I began with a light sketch and combined all the features from a few photos that I looked at online. I can’t show those photos here as they are copywrite to someone else.

I chose watercolor paper from Strathmore size 140mm x 216mm or 5 ½ x 8 ½ inches.

Pencil sketch

Pen and Ink

With a 0.1mm black pen I drew the main lines of the building and the other features.

After this I gently erased the pencil lines so they were no more. If you leave the pencil lines on the page you will see them through the watercolor paint and then you cannot get rid of them once they have been painted over.

Pen and Ink


With a light mixture of Payne’s grey and brown I started to lightly wash the building walls. I tried to add a little more grey for each separate type of brick work just to add some interest.

Here I used a number 6 watercolor brush and kept gently rolling it to mop up excess water each time.

I repeated the color layers a few times to add depth to the color and to vary the shadows a little.


Once that part was dry, I went in with a finer brush (number 2) and with denser paint I laid down some brick marks and roof tiles just to give the effect of rough texture to the stonework.

For the grass I mixed an olive green with a touch of burnt sienna.

I always avoid the bright greens that are in my paint box. They are not natural and are glaring when used in a landscape painting. It is best practice to mix colors and never use them straight out of the little pans.

Pencil Crayon

With my pencil crayons in several tones of cool grey I gently added small definitions like the shadows below the eaves and the door recesses. This brings details to life and adds shadows to suggest depth.

Colored pencil highlights

Pen Again

I went over the main structure lines once more with my fine 0.1mm pen and in some places I employed a 0.3mm black pen.

Gold Trim

I do love some gold trim in my artworks. In this drawing it was a challenge to know where to add a spot of gleam, but I found one or two spots that could do with some life.

Shimmer of gold


I am really happy with this painting. Receiving a watercolor set from my son-in-law this past Christmas, I am a relative newcomer to watercolor painting.

This piece is probably my fifth painting so far using this art medium.


There was some flow over of color especially around the tree, but I will get better at controlling the paint and handling my brushes with some practice.

Let me know what you think.


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Artist Trading Cards: for Beginner Artists

Artist Trading Cards: for Beginner Artists

Artist Trading Cards: Getting Started

Beginner Artists

If you are beginner artist, or you don’t even consider yourself as an artist just yet, you may be interested in Artist Trading Cards. They are a way to make small artworks that can usually be completed in an hour or so.

As the canvas for each Artist Trading Card is small, it is not as overwhelming as one large sheet of paper to fill. They are what I like to call “gateway” art works (along with Post-it art) that everyone can do.

Artist Trading Cards are brilliant to do at the kitchen table with your children as a quick art project that doesn’t take hours to complete. If you are just starting out with your color creative journey, try Artist Trading Cards.

Read more >>> Make 12 Artist Trading Cards


The Inspiration for Artist Trading Cards

Artist Trading Cards are useful for all artists. They are quick to make and showcase your art medium and art style

Originally when an artist created a large painting, they often would make several tiny copies of the artwork to give to prospective buyers, galleries or other artists in an effort to promote their craft.

Over time these handy dandy cards have become artworks in themselves.

I like to make Artist Trading Cards to share with my family and especially those who live far away. It is a nice thing to receive a few Artist Trading Cards in the post to add to your collection.

Trade Your Artist Trading Cards

Typically, the cards are swopped or traded between other people. You don’t sell them, but you give one and, if you are lucky, they give you one back.

Over time you will have a vast collection of a variety artist’s work without spending a penny.

At the same time, you have distributed your labor of love to people who may be interested.

Artist Trading Card Size

The size for Artist Trading Cards are quite specific. Each card is 64mm x 89mm or 2 1/2 inches by 3 1/2 inches which is a standard trading card size.

This is the exact same size a a regular playing card.

Artist Trading Card Series

Many painters make a series of cards all in the same vein. For instance, you could do “Monograms” or “Spring Blooms” as I have recently.


Then you make ten or twelve Artist Trading Cards all similar and you can number the individual series 1 of 12, 2 of 12 and so on.

This is a nice way to get better at one particular type of work, Monograms or Spring Blooms, before you move on to something else.

Ideally you could have a series for each month of the year and make lots of cards that are all part of that month’s series or collection.

The Back Matter

On the back of the card, you write a few lines about the cards.

I usually write:

  • Artist Trading Card
  • Artwork name or series name and number
  • Alison Hazel Art
  • The date
  • My signature


Your Art Business Growth

Artist Trading Cards can be like a business card for artists. After you inscribe your name and the title of the piece that you have created on the back of the card you can get creative here as well. This is also a place to put your website and contact details.

More advanced artists who get into Artist Trading Cards collecting will make individual cards to trade specifically with other artists.

The In Person Trade

Back in the days before lockdown (when we met people face-to-face) you could go to an Artist Trading Card group meeting.

You would take your cards to trade. Perhaps 24 or 36 cards and often the organizer will tell you how many people to expect at their meeting.

You probably will keep one from each series for yourself, then you will trade these cards with the other people who have various themes and will have created different cards.

On meeting day, you will go home with several original works of art signed by people you have met and know. Each card will be special and unique.

Nowadays I find it’s easy to send the cards in an envelope to my family, friends and other people.

Show Us Your Cards

You can buy blank ready-made Artist Trading Cards in better quality and an assortment of cardstock and thicknesses from Strathmore (available at Michael’s craft store) to make better cards.

As the interest in making these little cards takes hold, you can develop your style and the way you present your artwork through the cards.

Every artist is different and each one will work with these cards in their own way.

When you finish a card take a photo and post it to social media with the hashtag #artisttradingcard and tag me @alisonhazelart (so I can find them) I would love to see your work.

Grow Your Collection

You can grow your collections of other artists work or you can simply see the evolution of your own talent through the Artist Trading Cards that you make. Because each card is dated you can look back in a year or two’s time and see just how far you have come on your art journey.

Alison Hazel

Author Bio

Alison Hazel is a woman who shares her ongoing journey about becoming an artist later in life. She creates simple art that anyone can make. She hopes to inspire you to reach your creative potential in the area that suits you.

Read more about Alison’s story.

Send Alison a quick message.

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Aspiring Artists

Aspiring Artists

Discover what it takes to be an Aspiring Artist and see where you fit in and call yourself and artist. Some mind shifts may be required.

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