|A sourwood tree near Green Lake |
was the subject of this demo sketch.
Step 1: The colors I used are as follows:
Caran d’Ache Museum Aquarelles in light olive (245), yellow ochre (034), Cornelian (850), scarlet (070), crimson aubergine (599), sepia 50% (906), Payne’s gray (508), Prussian blue (159). Not shown: middle cobalt blue (660).
|Step 1: Select colors|
Step 2: I measured out the composition I wanted to fit on the page with small marks. I didn’t draw a contour line; I simply used crimson aubergine (foliage) and sepia (trunk) to begin scribbling the rough shape of the tree.
Step 3: Using mostly crimson aubergine, yellow ochre, Cornelian and scarlet plus a touch of Prussian blue, I laid on a heavy application of pencil pigment. More than drawing, this was like scribbling with crayons, fast and furious, to get as much pigment down as quickly as I could. This is the step that differs the most from my still life approach: I intend to do only one main application of pigment and one activation with water, so I need to put on as much color as possible all at once.
Step 4: This is the most fun step! I laid the sketch on the ground and, with my hand about a foot and a half from the paper, I spritzed the foliage area with water (read more about this technique in the post I wrote last year when I first discovered it). I’m currently using a hand sanitizer spray bottle that puts out a fine mist. The tricky part about this step is knowing when to stop spraying. I sometimes overspray and have to use a tissue to dab the excess water that starts to pool around the drawn area, and then the pigment starts wicking toward the pools. You also must be careful if there’s a wind, which may direct the spray onto your pants or onto parts of the page that you want to keep dry.
Step 5: While the paper was still wet, I used all the same pencils to deepen the foliage colors in some areas, especially the shaded area on the right side of the tree. Again, this was basically dabbing and scribbling, but more gently, since the paper was wet.
Step 6: To paint the sky, I revised an old trick I discovered way back when I was using a lot of fountain pen inks in waterbrushes as “cheater” watercolors. First, I applied a swatch of middle cobalt blue to a scrap piece of heavy watercolor paper that I carry for this purpose. I sprayed that lightly with water. Then I spritzed the sketchbook page where the sky would be, and used a clean brush to spread the water more evenly on the paper.
Step 7: Using a waterbrush, I dabbed generously into the swatch of middle cobalt blue and applied the pigment quickly to the wet paper. Steps 6 and 7 are the most similar to using traditional watercolors wet-in-wet. It’s a somewhat cumbersome process (compared to all the other steps) that’s easier to do if I can lay the sketchbook down flat (though I often do it in my hands while standing). I’m still looking for an easier way to get the same effect for the sky. What I don’t like is applying dry pencil to dry paper and trying to activate that with a waterbrush. Streaks are difficult to avoid, or the sky takes on an overworked appearance that I don’t care for.
Step 8: Using sepia, Payne’s gray and light olive, I drew the cars and ground foliage. I used Prussian blue for the ground shadows.
Step 9: Using sepia and Payne’s gray, I drew the utility pole and pedestrian and scribbled in the background elements. First making sure the tree foliage was completely dry, I used my Franklin-Christoph fude fountain pen and Platinum Carbon Black ink to draw the power lines. Then I was thrilled to notice that the power lines were casting shadows on the foliage, so I put those in (I’m easily thrilled!).
Step 10: I activated the ground shadows. I used a waterbrush to “lick” a bit of pigment from the scarlet pencil and dabbed it lightly on the ground for the fallen leaves. Start to finish, this sketch took about 60 minutes (more typically, a sketch this size would take about 45 minutes, but stopping to photograph added more time).
How does today’s demo differ from yesterday’s? While sketching the maple leaf was more like drawing – starting with a contour line and then coloring – sketching this tree required more of a painterly approach. For example, I think of Steps 2 and 3 as being the pencil equivalent of painting large shapes with a large brush and loose, wet watercolors. (Granted, this tree was an organic subject that demanded a loose approach. If the subject had been a building, I might have approached it differently. Hmmm, that might be another demo someday.) The sky was literally a wet-in-wet painting approach.
|The completed sketch (scanned).|
The biggest difference, of course, from my perspective, is that I remained standing for the entire sketch (well, squatting occasionally to spritz the page on the sidewalk), so I worked much more quickly and loosely than I would if I were seated at my comfy desk. Although it wasn’t always easy to work while standing, it was still much easier to use colored pencils compared to using paints while standing. Colored pencils have given me freedom in that way, too.