I generally paint without doing any preliminary drawing or sketching on my watercolor paper, but I tend to do lots of doodling and sketching at other times, sometimes in a sketchbook, sometimes on whatever paper is at hand. This sketching helps me learn proportions, but even more, it gives me a feel for my subjects, so that I feel like I know them before I try painting them. Here’s a page from my sketchbook from the last time Stephen and I ate out at our favorite restaurant, Mariner’s on the Hudson. Steve tosses bread in the water so that the ducks, geese, and fish come close for me to sketch or paint them.
Here are some sketches of a Rottie mix I did while chatting on the phone. I later did a watercolor of this dog. Sometimes I sketch with pencil, sometimes ball point pen and occasionally with Japanese ink brushes.