Artist Journal India Workshop David Rankin at the Euclid Art Association - November 2019

David Rankin's Artist Journal / Sketchbook India Workshop

Euclid Art Association - Cleveland, Ohio

November 8 • 9 • 10 - 2019

David Rankin's unique way of training artists in the fine art of developing Artist's Journals, is to pretend like we're on an actual sketching tour of India with David and his wife, Deanna. Using photos from David's own extensive creative efforts in India, he trains artists in various unique skills for working quickly and creatively, developing cool themes, and many ways to capture experiences & observations you can then use on your own travels.

David & Deanna Rankin at Taj Mahal


Skills for all Situations

All too often changing weather, time constraints, or other common and unplanned logistical limitations makes taking the time to set up and do a full scale plein air watercolor... not possible. Because of this reality, over the many years of David's travels all over the world and especially his creative efforts in Asia & India, he has developed and refined his imaging skills for any and all occasions. In this way he can remain fully productive with a whole range of sketchbook procedures that work seamlessly with his plein air painting efforts.

Example of David's use of what he refers to as the Old Master's Sketchbook Style from one of his trips to southern Thailand.

Old Master's Sketchbook Style

This unique artistic skillset has been around for hundreds of years. It consists of the simple use of pencil sketches or pens coupled with watercolor or gouache. Below are several of Michelangelo's & Leonardo DaVinci's masterful drawings and studies from the 1500's.

The basic artistic use of pencils & pens of various kinds is an elemental feature in the development of most Sketchbook & Journal development.

In the 1500's - DaVinci and Michelangelo are just the most famous of the old masters who developed their ideas and observations using just pencils & pens with some simple washes.

Expedition Artists

John White (1540 – 1593) White was an early settler in present-day North Carolina in 1585. White accompanied the expedition led by Sir Ralph Lane in an attempt to found the first English colony in North America. White was the official artist-illustrator-map maker employed to visually document everything of interest in this early colony, on Roanoke Island. The early efforts to establish this colony did not fare well. You can read more about this era in American/English history here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_White_(colonist_and_artist)

Watercolors and Map from John White's early efforts

John White is chiefly remembered today for his watercolors, which represent a unique record of 16th-century Algonquian society. All of White's surviving works are now in the print room of the British Museum. In 2007, the British Museum placed the entire group of John White's watercolors on public display under the collection titled "A New World: England's First View of America." There are more than 70 watercolors in the traveling exhibit.

Captain James Cook (1728-1779) Cook was a famous British explorer, navigator, cartographer, and captain in the Royal Navy, best known for his detailed maps and his historic three voyages to the Pacific Ocean, during which he achieved the first recorded European contact with the eastern coastline of Australia, the Hawaiian Islands, and the first recorded circumnavigation of New Zealand. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Cook.

Aquatints of Captain Cook voyages from watercolors painted by James Cleveley, who was also the ship's carpenter

Cook's expeditions also had artists, including William Hodges, who sketched and painted the amazing new sights. Four of the most famous aquatints depicted events from Cook's 3rd voyage. The watercolours from which these prints were engraved were painted by James Cleveley, who was also the ship's carpenter on HMS Resolution. According to the imprint on the aquatints, the original watercolor sketches were repainted by James's brother, John, in London.


During the 1700's and especially the 1800's this artistic working method was developed and used by legions of artists long before the invention and gradual use of photography in the mid-1800's.


Eugene Delacroix / 1798 - 1863 - In 1832 Delacroix headed south from France, through Spain... and across the Mediterranean to Morocco... on an extended Artistic Expedition and the “light” of North Africa. Instead of coming home with 1000 digital photographs... he came back with 7 Artist Journals full of sketches & studies. Remember... this was still a full 7 years before the revolutionary new state-of-the-art imaging technology called... “Photography” was first presented to the public in Paris.

Pages from Delacroix's Africa Sketchbooks created with sketches & watercolors.


Incorporating Old Master's Skills

This unique workshop is not about developing one style of sketching or drawing. Rather, it is about developing several very effective ways to approach different subjects, using skills that have been around for hundreds of years coupled with images and situations from David's own travels.

David doing 5 minute portrait sketches of various people in India... palace guards in Jaipur City Palace... Park Ranger in Rajaji Tiger Sanctuary, north India... and trekking guide in the Himalayas at Kedarnath,12,300 feet.


This unique workshop is not about developing one style of sketching or drawing. Rather, it is about developing several very effective ways to approach different subjects, using images and situations from David's own travels.


David has designed each day of this workshop so that you, the artist, can try your hand working with a wide selection of visual subjects and locations, in the very same way you would if you were working on tour right along side David & Deanna in exotic India.


Where will we travel in this workshop?

In this Artist Journal Workshop David will take us on an artistic exploration of one of the India's most visually inspiring regions of India - Rajasthan... and its exotic palaces, forts, and temples. David & Deanna have travelled all over Rajasthan several times and its exotic sights, architecture and styles of dress, make rewarding subjects for the discerning eyes of artist's.

An actual sketch David did of the "Elephant Parking Lot", at the Amber Fort – Jaipur, India. He then used this sketch from his Artist Journal for the development of a large watercolor when he returned home. But he also used it as a Christmas Greeting to friends & family back home while they were traveling.

What skills will we work on?

Developing quicker imaging skills - It seems there's never enough time to sketch & paint as we travel. Either the weather or schedules can ruin a day's efforts in unpredictable ways. Because of the complexities of travel in India David has had to evolve a whole unique way of working that takes into account all of the different ways unforeseen events can alter an artist's creative efforts. For example... these sketches below were done very quickly using a ballpoint pen in a small notebook sketching very quickly looking out of the window as they travelled across Rajasthan. Notice how little detail there is in these. They are merely quick glimpses of interesting shapes. However, even this very quick style can be memorable and appealing.

Speed is the factor

The trick is to develop & refine your skills so that you possess several distinct ways of working... each based on how much time you have to spend on a subject. Sometimes you have just a minute or two... other situations provide you with more time. The trick is to be able to work effectively in all situations.

Learning how to use David's way of sketching with a 9B Woodless Graphite Pencil can add a whole new dimension to your field work as you travel and work quickly.

Working with only one color... Paynes Grey - David's Grey Study Procedures are a direct development of his creative travels in India. Learning how to use this added procedure with your sketching & drawing skills will add a tremendous visual appeal to even the quickest studies.

Styles for more time

When you have a bit more time on site with a subject, you can slow down and develop more detail. You can add watercolor to create studies that have wonderful charm. Working this way fills an Artist's Journal with variety, magnificent little watercolors, and a lifetime of memories.

David believes an artist's Sketchbook should be like a traveling studio filled with any subject, observation, or idea that an artist comes up with during their travels. The trick is to develop a set of fast working sketchbook skills allowing you to work creatively and effectively anywhere.


The artistic style David is helping you develop, is in fact, the same style of working that artists have been using since the 1700's... pencil sketches & drawings with added watercolor. Below are just a few of the pages from the dozens of Sketchbooks Eugene Delacroix filled on his travels across North Africa in the 1830's. Before cameras were invented, this is precisely how artists captured observations, sights, and experiences for later paintings back home.


For more than a dozen summers David lived and travelled all over Kashmir. These drawings below were the very first drawings he did in Kashmir back in 1974. Using a 2B pencil and a blender in his sketchbooks. Each took over an hour sketching from Shikaras in the back canals of Srinagar.

This slow detailed style was possible due to the lack of a time limit.

On one of David's later trips to Kashmir he did this study of a traditional Shikara being rowed across Srinagar's Dal Lake, with the famous Shankaracharya Shiva Temple on the peak of the hill that dominates the skyline in Srinagar. Here David was experimenting with different ways of working as he travelled India. This was actually done working on a sheet of heavy weight translucent Vellum, using colored markers and colored pencils.

Throughout David's nearly 50 year artistic fascination with India, he has worked extensively in his sketchbooks, sketching people & places and developing his painting ideas, observations, and studies, many of which were included in David's wonderful book... Fast Sketching by North Light Books.

Why Rajasthan?

David feels that the region of Rajasthan has an enormous variety of artistic subjects for sketching & painting the amazing palaces, forts, birds, wildlife, people, customs, and sights of India. And that working with these artists can rapidly develop their skills and understanding 

Amber Fort on the hills above Jaipur, India

David & Deanna have travelled all over Rajasthan several times. Exotic sights, architecture and styles of dress, make rewarding subjects for the artist's eyes.

In fact, many years ago, some of David's sketches & watercolors were published in the very best tour guide of Rajasthan, by Knopf Guides Publishing.

Ancient Open Well design illustration by David Rankin

Developing an Artist Journal Style

The primary skills David trains artists in during this workshop is how to rapidly draw & sketch a variety of subjects ... and also how to quickly add watercolor.

The idea is to develop... small "Location Sketches" focused on details... 2 styles of sketching portraits of people... developing half-page images of subjects... filling a page... 2-Page Spreads... and... developing specific sketching themes.


One added Feature

Meditation Drawing

For the very first time, David will conduct an actual Meditation Session using a unique drawing procedure he has used for more than 50 years. David has been practicing Yoga for more than 50 years and was the co-founder of the Light of Yoga Society ( later known as the American Yoga Association). David will show artists how to meditate using their ability to draw, by actually going through the whole process which begins with a drawing of flowers or plants in a unique way. The drawing process proceeds into a unique breathing pattern. And the breathing pattern leads directly into an inward state of silent meditation. This is the first time David has ever taught this unique procedure and you will find it very easy & rewarding to do.

Come with David & Deanna as we explore India with our Sketchbooks.

Euclid Art Association, Cleveland, Ohio - November 8, 9, 10

Friday, Nov. 8 - 6:30-9pm • Sat, Nov 9 and Sun, Nov 10 - 9:30am - 3:30pm

Created By
David Rankin


© David Rankin Watercolors