How to Draw a 10 Minute Seascape Sketch

Morning class,

I thought I’d share with you a little seascape sketch that I did the other day.

It’s filmed in real-time, so you can actually see how long I take and how my decision process works when drawing.

You’ll see moments when I pause and reconsider what pens to start with and what pens I end up finishing with. You also see me having a cup of tea throughout the sketch because sometimes, just having a brew will give you that little bit of contemplation time to decide what to focus on next.

If you haven’t got 10 minutes to watch it all, I’ve also made a shorter 60 seconds edited version on YouTube shorts (and a 90-second one on Instagram)

Watch along in real-time as I sketch the shoreline of Porthminster beach, St Ives, Cornwall

60-second version below:

Sketching Pens, from Left to Right: Pentel Aquash Pen, Lamy Safari Fountain Pen, Liquitex paint marker, Pentel brush pen, Muji 0.5mm gel pen.

Close-up of the different sketching pen nibs

The sketching pens that I use:

  • MUJI 0.5mm gel tip pen
  • Pentel brush pen
  • Liquitex grey acrylic marker
  • Lamy Safari Fountain Pen
  • Pentel Aquash water pen. (This is an empty pen that’s just got water)

The real trick to this technique, and the thing that’s the most enjoyable to do, is to lay down areas of permanent ink with the first pen and then add in other areas with non-permanent ink. Then, when I wash over that area with a water brush pen, you get a beautiful soft wash effect.

The Sketchpad is by Handbook, their trav.e.logue series; it’s relatively small but perfect for backpacks, and the flask is from the Thermos Ultimate series, which is exceptionally good at keeping your tea or coffee hot. I find the 900ml version keeps the tea hotter for longer, but the smaller size is nice for shorter trips. We’re talking 24 hours hot.

Sketch Location

I’ve also added the sketch location using What3Words. If you haven’t come across what3words before, it’s an amazing free app you can use to locate any 3m x 3m square in the world. Each square across the globe has been assigned a unique combination of three words.

It can be handy if you’re showing your work in an obscure location or delivery drivers keep on missing your address, as they do quite often in Cornwall; recently, we used it when we broke down on the A30! Also great for outdoor sculpture trails or street art installations.  If you’re ever visiting St Ives in the future, you can track down the exact sketch spot.

I hope you enjoy it, and if you want to learn any more about urban sketching or landscape sketching, you can follow the links to learn more about the courses.

Landscape sketching course

Urban sketching course

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This Post Has 31 Comments

  1. Sharon CArpentier

    The real-time sketch video is absolutely fantastic! Thank you for posting. Always wanted to see how you approach en plein air sketch, the choices you made while creating the drawing. Many thanks!

    1. Will Kemp

      Great stuff Sharon, so pleased you found it helpful.

  2. Louise S.

    Dear William

    I love your live sketching including the sound of the sea. When will you be giving painting retreat in Cornwall? In the meantime, I can only imagine all the beautiful seascape you are painting. From Ottawa, Ontario, Canada and Barbados.

    1. Will Kemp

      Hey Louise, so pleased you enjoyed it, sound like some inspirational places Louise.

  3. Robert pyle

    Many thanks for your video, 10 mins plus tea! Enjoyed watching how you proceeded, the quicker outline, then more detail, then shading and blending. The fence post especially as the border.

    1. Will Kemp

      Good one Robert, hope it helps with your sketches.

  4. John

    Having just tidied the drawing table in the studio, I sat at the kitchen table to have a cup of tea found this. The use of a fountain pen I have not thought of before perhaps being put of by King Charles and his issues with them in recent times and dark memories of primary school in older times. I must revisit them! Now back to an organised drawing area! Cheers from Oz

    1. Will Kemp

      Hey John, yes, fountain pens can be great for sketching as they give you an endless option of different nibs and inks to try to find the style you prefer.

  5. Scott

    Inspiring and educational. Love it. Thank you Will!!!

  6. Joani

    Beautiful – thank you for sharing!!

  7. Laura

    Hi Will.

    This post is very helpful. And entertaining … with the coffee bit. But that makes a lot of sense; to get in the right frame of mind and a warm cup of coffee could be a key ingredient. Getting into the zone, as they say. Now, keeping my body from shaking from the cold I guess would be a bigger challenge. Thanks for the inspiration. Practicing something like this makes it come more naturally.

    1. Will Kemp

      So true Laura, finding a pace that works when you’re drawing is key. Especially when its of subjects that aren’t fast moving you can take the time to really see what you’re looking at.

  8. Adele gannon

    Hi Will
    Am interested in the pen brushes u use. I’ve enjoyed a number of your courses and have now moved from portraits of the human face to portrait of a fox, using acrylics. Would those brush pens b appropriate to add details such as eyes, mouth etc, on an acrylic painting?
    Many thanks

    1. Will Kemp

      Hey Adele, you could put some liquid acrylic into the Aquash brush pen. If you use the high flow acrylics from Golden the acrylic will already be in a more fluid form for the brushpen. You might need to add a touch of water, but it will be much stronger pigment load then if you diluted heavy body paints to the same consistency.


  9. Grace Glover

    Love the real-time sketching / pleine air, Will, thanks! I hope you added the late arrivals walking the beach. And thanks also for the materials list. I may pick those up before I head to Vermont soon.


    1. Will Kemp

      Glad you enjoyed it Grace, have a wonderful trip to Vermont.

  10. C-Marie

    Thank you, Will!! And, the water brush pen usage was most interesting!!

    God bless, C-Marie

    1. Will Kemp

      Thanks C-Marie, yes, the waterbrush is such a useful sketching tool. Can be used as an impromptu watercolour brush, with watercolour pencils, or with pen and ink.

  11. Kb Brauer

    Fun! i enjoyed the view, and watching you select what you wanted to highlight, getting dramatic with the contrast. Aquawash pens are so handy for work away from studio, I like using them with Inktense water-soluble pencils. The cuppa-contemplation moments are perfect for the pauses. Thanks!

    1. Will Kemp

      Hey Karen, they are so handy aren’t they, glad you enjoyed the sketch.

  12. Stephen

    Hi will great video on ink sketching very helpful. Kindest regards steve

  13. Ann

    LOVED this video in real time! Ever so helpful. Your school continues to inspire me all the way over here in Arizona! : ) Thank you!

    1. Will Kemp

      Ahh, you’re too kind Ann, so pleased you enjoyed the sketch.

  14. Keith

    Thank you for your inspirational and relaxing winter warmer. We enjoyed our visit to Porthminster Beach in St Ives last May 2023 in warm bright sunshine – colours to die for !. We hope to make a return visit to St Ives next May 2024 to explore more of the colourful beaches, buildings and narrow alleyways – can’t wait !

    1. Will Kemp

      Fabulous stuff Keith, hope it brought back fond memories for you.

  15. Kaitse Berger

    Hi Will,
    So happy and thank you for sharing your professional art secrets with us!
    I have certainly found a place where I feel at home in my creative have given so much professional much inspiration ! Thank you so much!

    I love painting..good for my spirit .. will continue on this creative journey..its part of me.

    Wish you a Happy Chinese New Year!


    1. Will Kemp

      That’s great to hear Kaitse, great to have you along.

  16. Keith

    Just returned from a 2 weeks break in Cornwall .One of the many highlights was a return visit to St Ives on a beautiful warm sunny day. We spent part of our time in Tate Modern art museum overlooking Porthmeow Beach and The Island. Some of the art works were by Alfred Wallis the local Cornish Artist and Mariner and afterwards we even found the house he lived in

    1. Will Kemp

      Fab stuff Keith, so pleased you had a great trip.

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