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Bonus post: Dave Baab’s philosophy of watercolor sketching

Lynne Baab • Sunday November 13 2022

Bonus post: Dave Baab’s philosophy of watercolor sketching

I get a lot of kind and encouraging compliments about my blog posts. Many of them go like this: “Lynne, I really enjoy your blog. You write good stuff, but your husband’s watercolors are outstanding, amazing, wonderful! He is so talented!” One friend said he enjoys trying to figure out why I choose the watercolor for each post. I truly love that so many of you enjoy his art so much, and I’m happy to have a sense of teamwork with Dave in these blog posts.

Dave has an art exhibition going on right now at our church, Bethany Presbyterian in Seattle, called “Time Slows: sketches of a socially-distanced Seattle.” For the exhibition, we prepared a Q and A and a bio. I thought you might enjoy this glimpse of Dave’s philosophy about his art.

I also wanted to let you know I have started creating cards on Zazzle using Dave’s art. If you particularly like one of his paintings you see on my blog, let me know and I’ll create a card using that image. Write me at LMBaab [at] Cards using his watercolors are available here.

Q and A with Dave Baab, watercolor artist

Q: For watercolor artists, what does “sketching” mean?

Dave: Painting on site, using watercolor paints. I have a travel palette and a stool that I use. Sometimes I paint standing up. I often start a sketch outside and complete it at home using photos.

Q: Why sketch versus take a photo?

Dave: Sketching asks me to slow down and observe the scene before me closely, emphasizing the parts that excite me or lift my heart to worship. Sketching captures a moment in time at a specific place where I am reacting spontaneously to what I see. This slows down time. For me, beauty captures the awe I feel when I encounter the Living God in creation and in Jesus Christ through the scriptures and prayer. “One thing I ask of the Lord, that will I seek after: to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire at his temple” (Psalm 27:4). I sketch scenes that make me stop and say, “Wow, thank you, Lord,” and one to two hours of paying attention to shapes, values and colors helps cement that emotion into my heart.

Q: How did sketching help you cope with isolation and discouragement during the pandemic?

Dave: Art reconnected me with creation. Being among other people outdoors, even though I didn’t interact with them very much, gave me a sense of community. I found places to perch off trails and sidewalks, where people weren’t passing close by. Sketching helped me fight off depression and feelings of isolation. This really was art therapy, bringing me back to God’s beautiful creation and my place in it. I feel whole again after I sketch.


Dave Baab is a watercolor artist and a member of Bethany Presbyterian Church in Seattle. Dave grew up in Ohio, and as a child and early teen he often drew cars, especially 1950s models with fins. He lived most of his adult life in Seattle, where he taught and practiced dentistry. He often drew teeth to illustrate dental procedures for his patients and his students at the University of Washington Dental School. He took his first watercolor class in 1998 and found it so discouraging that he didn’t paint for a year. He took his second class in 1999, had a breakthrough, and began to paint frequently. He sold numerous paintings in the early 2000s. He retired from dentistry and moved to New Zealand 2007 when his wife, Lynne, took a position as lecturer at the University of Otago in Dunedin. In his decade in New Zealand, he was an artist member of the Otago Art Society, and he sold many paintings and prints in the Art Society gallery. Upon his return to Seattle in 2017, he has continued to paint scenes in and around Seattle. He enjoys sketching with the Seattle Urban Sketchers group.

(Illustration for this post: Nyhaven, Copenhagen, one of Dave’s watercolors you can find on a card on Zazzle.)

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