Thursday, March 6, 2014


3/6/14 diluted India ink, Nero pencil, Canson
mixed media paper (10-min. pose)
There’s a watercolor sketching technique that involves applying paint loosely first to define large shapes and blocks of color or value, and then refining afterwards with line work. I’ve seen Liz Steel do it frequently, and Mary Ann Moss has been experimenting with it recently. I know I’ve seen other sketchers do it, too. It’s somewhat counterintuitive for most of us who are used to making a line drawing first and painting afterwards.

Today during Gage’s life drawing open session, the idea to try that technique with figures popped into my head. I used a waterbrush filled with diluted India ink (which I had put in my bag after Steve Reddy’s workshop, thinking I would use it for his grisaille technique in the field) to loosely put in the shading. Then with a pencil, I went back over the ink to draw the contour more accurately. The technique worked especially well with 5- and 10-minute poses, which are usually too short to put in much shading if you spend most of the pose time drawing the contour. But when I put in the shading first, that took only a minute or two, and then I could use the rest of the available time to work out details. As we learned from Steve, diluted India ink allows layering varying degrees of value, and it was ideal in this application.

And speaking of things ideal, I’ve commented previously about the many advantages (and very few disadvantages) of the waterbrush. Its use during life drawing short poses is another huge advantage I have to add to the list: If I were trying to use small bowls of diluted ink (or for that matter, any other wet medium) with a traditional brush during short poses, it would be too much mess and bother, and I’d probably use up too much time dipping, dabbing and rinsing. But whipping out that waterbrush already filled with ink – perfecto! 

3/6/14 diluted India ink, graphite, Canson
sketching paper (5-min. pose)
3/6/14 diluted India ink, graphite, Canson sketching paper
(5-min. pose)

1 comment:

  1. Fun idea. Just today I bought a refill (in brown) for a Fisher Space Pen. Reason? This is a pressurized ball-point pen with waterproof ink. Also, because ball-point inks are oil-based, you can draw over previously wetted paper with no feathering...EVEN IF THE PAPER IS STILL WET.

    And here's the best part. You don't need a Fisher Space Pen. If you don't want to draw directly with the refill, it will fit into any 'twist' ballpoint pen.

    Nice sketches, by the way.

    Cheers --- Larry


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