Toned Paper Sketching


fountain pen, brush pen, Sharpie Paint Pen (white), gouache in Strathmore Toned Tan sketchbook

The recent lesson in Sketchbook Skool’s “Stretching” course was with Miguel Herranz, who does the most wonderful sketches on toned paper, so here are some stabs at that lesson.  The paper is meant for dry media but takes a light wash of watercolor or gouache  Gouache is better for this because it’s creamy and sits on top of the paper opaquely, (or at least could if I put enough on!)

This is a usual scene for me, eating breakfast in the car after Jazzercise.  Sitting behind the driver’s wheel however is not the best place to sketch – too cramped, but it was too chilly outside and the comfort of a cushioned seat and warmth won out!


On Saturday three of us lined up on a bench in Santa Rosa’s Courthouse Square to fill the page with whatever story unfolded before us.  This working on toned paper is challenging in all sorts of new ways.  Maybe by the time I work my way through this new sketchbook I’ll get the hang of it.  I like the way you have to make decisions about value and color based on design and making readable contrast, rather than matching what you see with “realistic” color.


What started out as an overcast morning, with not much happening except cars driving by, became a sunny day with lots of colorful activity, including a march against Monsanto, complete with marching band (which unfortunately was too late in the day to sketch on site). This is another spread which captures just a bit of it.


  1. Susan, that day was so much fun. I reviewed my sketches, and even though I wasn’t at the top of my game, I learned so much. Scott commented that the “start in the middle and work out” method of getting a complex scene reminded him of a fisheye lens— not a bad comparison. Just practicing your two suggestions from sketchbook school really moved me forward. I like your drawing with lots of frames as well. So happy to be part of the Sonoma Urban sketching crew.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s