Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Ever-Versatile Colored Pencil

10/12/16 water-soluble colored pencils, ink
I hope you’re not tired of my tree sketches yet. In addition to getting a daily color fix, I’m learning more about how to use water-soluble colored pencils every time I sketch one. With most of my earlier tree sketches, I was using a basic dry-on-dry technique to lay down color fairly heavily with the side of the pencil core. Then I’d dab the color with the waterbrush to activate it. I like the textured effect from it, but it’s a time-consuming method. 

For the yellow tree I sketched Tuesday and the maple yesterday (at right), I tried something new: After laying down the color dry-on-dry as usual, I picked up my ever-handy water spritzer, held it at a distance from the paper to keep the mist fine, and then spritzed the entire tree. It was fun to see the explosion of color as soon as the mist hit the page, but it was also much, much faster than dabbing with the waterbrush. (This maple took no longer than it would have with watercolor paints.) (See the full tutorial on this technique.)

To intensify the color further in some areas (like the shady side of the tree), I went in with pencils again while the paper was still wet. I was happy to be using my usual 140-pound Canson XL watercolor paper; anything lighter and I think I would have had problems from all the water and aggressive pencil scrubbing on the wet page. In addition, the cold-press paper has a relatively coarse texture, which picks up a lot of colored pencil pigment quickly.

10/11/16 colored pencils
At the same time that I’ve been experimenting with water-soluble colored pencils to sketch trees, I’ve also been making still life studies at home, this time with traditional colored pencils or watercolor pencils kept dry. Sharpened to a deadly point, colored pencils can render really fine details, like all the (nasty looking!) warts on the gourd or vine leaves on the cherry tomatoes. I’m finding it much easier to blend hues optically by simply layering pencil strokes rather than trying to mix the right hue from liquid paints.

Loose and splashy; tight and detailed: I like to do both, and colored pencils are accommodating either way. The more I use them, the more I appreciate their versatility.

9/22/16 colored pencils and water-soluble colored pencil

1 comment:

  1. I love the effect you got using the mister on the tree! I never would have thought of that. These are really nice! Great shading on the gourd and the cherry tomatoes.


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