|4/20/17 water-soluble colored pencils, ink|
A couple of days ago we got a brief reprieve from the relentless rain and wind, so I ran out the door before it started again. It was still chilly and breezy, so I drove up the street and stayed in the car to sketch this. Although there was enough sunshine to cast shadows (what a treat!), huge, gray, billowing clouds hung low – a typical Seattle sky much of the year.
In just about every way, I am enjoying using colored pencils more than watercolors when sketching on location, but one element I haven’t been able to do successfully with colored pencils is the sky. Sure, I can take several hours to do it with dry colored pencils or a little less time with water-soluble colored pencils, but that doesn’t work on location. So I’ve been looking for shortcuts.
For a few years I’ve been using a waterbrush filled with ink to make a quick splash of blue sky, but that handy trick doesn’t work as well with clouds. I tried a waterbrush filled with gray ink for quite a while, but I haven’t been happy with the results.
With the sketch above I tried an idea I’ve been playing with at home – it’s similar to the waterbrush trick but using water-soluble colored pencils. I first spray the paper with a light mist, then use a clean brush to spread it evenly. I hit the wet paper with the blue ink. Then I put down a swatch of gray colored pencil on a piece of scrap paper. I use a second waterbrush (filled with water) to pick up the gray pigment, then dab it onto the wet paper. The effect is better when the paper has dried just a touch – but not too much.
Below are some practice clouds I’ve been doing at my desk. I’m not completely happy with the effect, but I’m happy with the speed and efficiency, and especially the mechanical ease of doing all of this while standing and without juggling paints.