Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Watercolor Pencils with Grisaille, Part 2


Another grisaille experiment

In Part 1 of my experiments with a grisaille, I followed Wendy Hollender’s technique as described in her book, The Joy of Botanical Drawing. Unhappy with those results and not enjoying the watercolor-based technique, I decided to make it easier on myself. Like my green mug effort, I used Caran d’Ache Museum Aquarelles for the grisaille and Prismacolors for the dry pencil work afterwards. This time, however, I used a Stillman & Birn Zeta sketchbook, which has a smoother surface better suited to soft Prismacolors.

Keeping her basic grisaille concept in mind, I applied dry watercolor pencils directly to the sketchbook paper – first for tones and then for the overall local color (sorry – I forgot to photograph this step). After each application, I activated the layer and waited for it to dry completely. The drying time was still tedious, but at least I was taking better advantage of a unique property of water-soluble colored pencils, which is that they can be applied easily dry and activated later. For a penciler (not painter) like me, this is far easier than making small puddles of paint and applying them wet.

Grisaille made with dry watercolor pencils applied directly to paper, then activated.

Unfortunately, I made the same mistake of not having enough patience to keep applying stronger grisaille layers, so as before, the dry pencils did most of the work.

4/10/21 Museum Aquarelles and Prismacolors in Stillman & Birn Zeta sketchbook

As I worked on this tomato sketch with Prismacolors, I had the same thoughts I had during the previous exercises with Hollender’s technique: Although I enjoy the slow, meditative process of applying multiple layers of dry colored pencils, I don’t enjoy waiting for paint to dry. Heck, if I enjoyed that, I might as well be a watercolor painter!

What I do enjoy is taking advantage of the unique properties of watercolor pencils – that they can be wet or dry as needed. They can do so much more work in a sketch than serving as only the grisaille. And yet the grisaille concept is worth pursuing! Onward to Part 3.


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