where to?

I have dabbled in graphite for some time now as a self taught wannabe. I would like to expand my artistic horizons and I seek advice from those who have experienced the journey from graphite forward. Where to next? Is it pen and ink and watercolour or…?

I live in a high rise apartment and so do not have a lot of space available to me.


Maurice Dittmann


I would go to watercolor next. Do one medium at a time. I do not have a lot of space either. I worked on the kitchen table until I got myself a small easel.

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Hi Maurice

Here are some ideas, starting with things that are easier when first expanding your skills:

  • Try charcoal (including it with white charcoal on toned paper).
  • Pastels allow you to add color and are one of the easier mediums (and help to teach the concept of layering) (I personally like using pastel pencils).
  • Colored pencils give you a lot of control and require a lot of layering and are more time consuming than other media - but a lot of fun to learn.

Those would be my top suggestions. But, really anything you find here is GREAT.

Also, if you go to the menu button for the BLOG, you can see all the Gettin Sketchy lessons from past seasons that were on YouTube. This will show you a variety of stuff and the projects are quicker, easier to accomplish.

Another strong suggestion is to go to the COMMUNITY tab and select Critique / also known as the Member’s Minute. These take a little less than a half hour and there is a new one every week. If time permits you can go back a long way to see older lessons. You will LEARN A LOT watching these, and it will improve your own art, no matter what media you are using.

Personally I love watercolors, but many find them difficult because they are unforgiving. But, I’d never tell you not to give it a try. If you would like to give watercolor a try, don’t forget to consider Gouache, which is an opaque watercolor.

Another thought is that there is a new Course called Colored Pencils Plus. In the menu go to Courses and scroll down until you see the class called Colored Pencils - PLUS. The first lesson has been posted and it is of tomatoes using an underpainting of watercolor and colored pencils on top of it. This would let you try out two mediums on one project. There are also several people who have posted their results of this lesson here on the Forum. To see that look under the Topic: The new Colored Pencil Plus course!

Hope this is helpful feedback - and welcome to the forum and The Virtual Instructor. I’ve attached a couple of photos of Gettin’ Sketchy drawings as samples of projects.

Terri Robichon

Here is a charcoal pencil drawing that I did from BLOG / Gettin’ Sketchy: Season 8 / Episode 5

Here is a pastel pencil drawing that I did from BLOG / Gettin’ Sketchy: Season 10 / Episode 3 (in the style of Georgia O’Keeffe)


Some nice suggestions.
If you like black and white I think pen and ink doesn’t take much space. A set of technical pens, nibpen with nibs, some brushes and ink is all you need. I’m currently doing this course and it’s very versatile and demanding. Afterwards you could go to line and wash and add a small box of watercolours to the mix, gradually building your skills and materials.

Thanks for that suggestion. I feel comfortable with that.


The chains are amazing @robichon. I loved the getting sketchy Georgia O’keefe way too! I love that we all share our work regardless of level of expertise or trials and errors and everything in between.

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Thanks Terri for your time in providing so much info. Your extra info on the instruction available and where to find it will help me immensely. I will never have enough time - like a child in a candy store.

I am afraid I can only aspire to reach your level of artistic talent. However, I do it for my own personal satisfaction and not for general public display.

I am so glad I have joined the VI community.


Maurice -

I just want to say that given some time and education and practice, you will surprise yourself at how good your artwork will become. There have been times in the last couple of years that I see a lesson and immediately say I’m not going to do it because I’m not capable. Then I see someone else I know who has done it with great results, and I say to myself that crap - if they can do it so can I. Amazingly, in those cases I have really surprised myself and loved the results.

So glad you’re here. We don’t care how good or “bad” anyone is. We just like to see everyone have fun as they learn new things and perfect their skills.

When you’re comfortable, please share some of your work here. We’d love to see it.

Terri Robichon

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Thanks Terri. The creative support shown by everyone is so good and I now realise that I have been trying to make headway in an artistic vacuum. I can’t wait to “dive right in”, to coin a well known phrase. Sorry, gotta go…!


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Hi Maurice - Yup, I did watercolor paintings for literally decades, but with absolutely no instruction or critique. Figuring it out on your own is frustrating and you never seem to get to the point where you are really good.

My creative time has always been split between photography, scrapbooking and art, but it wasn’t until 2018 that I started to get more serious about artwork. Then In 2020 I started taking some on-line art lessons. That made a huge difference. Now I’ve been at The Virtual Instructor since Oct 2021 and my improvement has been huge, in not just watercolors, but in almost any media that I try. I finally found the place that makes me happy and continually challenges me. I hope others feel the same way about the people you meet here and the things you learn. Matt is an incredible teacher, and Ashley is a bonus.

Terri Robichon


Hello Maurice,

You have received a lot of good suggestions. I to have a little space and have turned the dining area and part of my bedroom into art spaces for illness purposes.

If you want to go forward to another medium I personally would suggest the pen and ink courses. All you need is a set of ink pens, Matt has many suggestions and there are a variety of good quality waterproof pens.

Both of the pen and ink courses are really good. A question, have you gone through the graphite courses? 25 days to better drawings or one of the other drawing courses? You mentioned dabbling in graphite wanting to be a wannabe artist. I did the same thing.

Also, if you start with pen and ink, you can then go onto line and wash combining ink and watercolor since you mentioned those two.

If I had known that there was pen and ink, I would have gone that way first, but went with my childhood memories of pencil, colored pencils, and then acrylic painting, which I enjoy all of them still.

I have supplies stored in boxes in corners of my apartment, labeled by medium, in empty drawers from end tables, and under my bed or behind a chest of drawers. In small spaces we can become creative, and it can be fun.

Some of the other mediums, charcoal which doesn’t take up much space, and pastels are also good starting places, both oil and soft pastels, especially to learn to be explorative.

Also, if you have difficulty getting reference pictures like I do there is a great site of royalty free pictures, and they are a good source of inspiration.

Like I said, I too live in a small space. I have enjoyed learning to use all types of mediums and papers, it is a never-ending journey of enjoyment with a bump here or there along the way. We all make our path.

Hope this is not to overwhelming, happy artistic journey,


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Thanks Teri,

I really do appreciate your comments and advice.

I have claimed sovereignty over the third bedroom and set up operations there. So far I have restricted my artistic endeavours to graphite which means I do have enough room for most materials and tools. I do have to share space with my wife who also has particular interests (not art/drawing) that need space.

Since joining the “Virtual Instructor” community, I have begun trying my hand with technical ink pens and like the medium. I did do both the graphite courses you mentioned and that raised me to another level already. I am more or less comfortable with graphite but I still could improve with further study of courses/instruction available on “Virtual Instructor”, I have a latent desire to get involved in pen and ink , with the intention to move on to colour - probably line and wash as per your suggestion. I have done selected sections of the “The pen and ink experience” and “Subjects with pen and ink” and enjoyed the journey. My biggest difficulty is perspective and remembering to be patient and proceed slowly.

I am aware of but I keep a lookout for suitable reference images everywhere. My favourite subject is landscapes, particularly country and farm scenes (Australian) although I have had some success with portraiture images.

I do this for my personal pleasure and satisfaction only and to keep my octogenarian brain in Drive and out of Park.

Thanks again for the advice and I did enjoy the chat.