Q & A Land

Suzanne asked some questions that are always fun to answer, so I thought I'd share for anyone else interested too:
"Ester, can you speak a little about your process? Do you normally paint the pages before you begin to work? If so, what medium do you use? Do you always have a plan before you put pen to paper?"

My favorite thing to do is experiment with things I've never done before, so sticking to a certain process sometimes feels restraining to me, but there are a few things that are sometimes a standard. Example if I want to watercolor or ink in a moleskine sketchbook, I need an absorbant ground, so I usually put down some liquitex matte medium before working, sometimes mixing it with an ink color before it dries. My favorite thing lately has been playing around with walnut stain, and I love DalerRowney LUMA concentrated watercolors, but they are really hard to find now. Usually it goes that I draw in my sketchbook first, then color/paint over it, but for a "final" piece of work like an oil painting, I will put down a nice painted background, then draw on that, then paint the drawing, then paint the outside/background a little more.

Some of my current favorite sketchbook materials are: LUMA inks filled inside of rapidograph pens, FW White Ink (used in this drawing above), mechanical pencils with 2B graphite (also used in this drawing), ZIG water-filled brush pens, tiny tiny brushes for spreading thinned oil paint, and occasionally I go digital with illustrator and photoshop. I love smearing stuff with my finger, and find that I'm most comfortable painting when I can touch the surface and move paint that way rather than using a paint brush, so in those cases, paper towels are my best friend.

I don't usually ever have a plan in my sketchbook, but I always need some plan before a "final" painting. This blog is dedicated to my personal playing around, so I don't show client sketches here, which are totally planned out. My sketchbooks are really like brain dumps, and if there's not a whole lot of ideas oozing out, then I draw the stuff around me and simply enjoy the process of making lines. I make paintings based on drawings in the sketchbooks, but most of the time just doodle around in them. Friends have told me that my sketchbooks are often tighter than most people's drawings, but I like getting really detailed, so that's probably why.

Thanks for asking!


  1. That's really cool. It always interesting when people know a lot (or think a lot) about their materials.


  2. Great to hear about some of your materials, some of your process, nice tips to perhaps try sometime, but it's the magic... oh, the magic!

    I showed my 15 yo daughter the other night your site and she loved your work, just loved it. She'll be back.

    I can't stay away.


  3. Thanks much Brenda! You're always so sweet to me about my work, it feels nice :)

  4. Niiiice! Thanks so much for sharing some of your artists secrets Ester. I personally would have never assumed that you sketched out things first, before adding paint. I so wanna try more things like this!

  5. Thank you so much for sharing! I am especially intested to hear how you use the liquitex matte medium in your moleskin before painting it. I've heard several people mention purchasing a moleskin with watercolor paper, but I can't find one where I live. I think this is a better option anyway as you still have smooth pages for drawing (as opposed to a rough watercolor surface).

    Oh, and it is also facinating how many layers you work in. I feel so one-dimensional all of a sudden!


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