|3/29/23 Crown Hill neighborhood (gouache, watercolor pencils,Canson XL 140-lb. paper)|
Although they aren’t as showy as sakura, plum trees have the benefit of blooming first, so they usually don’t have to compete. I appreciate that they give me a pink fix while I wait (impatiently) for this year’s much-delayed cherries.
|3/29/23 Maple Leaf neighborhood (Pentel Milky Brush Pen,|
watercolor pencils, Marvy LePen brush pen, Hahnemuhle sketchbook)
The plums also give me more opportunities to try out different media. Ironically, I’m about to give them all up for my tried-and-true watercolor pencils. I brought out all the other media because I wanted a more opaque look. But none give me the ethereal texture I love so much about colored pencils.
On my walk through Maple Leaf (left), I pulled out the Pentel Milky Brush Pen, which is new to me. With an actual brush tip, it’s better than the Uni Posca’s blunt bullet tip that I had rejected previously. I couldn’t leave it alone, though, and ended up adding more texture with pink and lavender Caran d’Ache pencils. (The lavender I chose isn’t right as a shadow color – it looks more like a jacaranda tree, which we definitely don’t have in the Pacific Northwest.)
Later the same day, I drove back up to Crown Hill (top of post) where I’d sketched my first plums with gouache. I wanted to make a larger sketch on unbound paper, so I brought a 9-by-12-inch Canson XL 140-pound watercolor pad. It’s the paper I used for all the years I was hand-binding my own sketchbooks. Although the student-grade paper isn’t ideal, the cost and convenience made the choice an acceptable compromise.
Now that I’ve gotten spoiled by Hahnemühle, though, especially the 100-percent cotton paper in the A6 size book I’ve been using lately, I really noticed the downgrade in the Canson XL. I had spritzed the paper first, then painted with gouache, leaving the surface generously wet. When I then applied colored pencils somewhat aggressively, the surface started pilling. I have been equally aggressive with the Hahnemühle (even the student-grade Akademie book) without damaging it.
Despite that paper disappointment, of the new media I’ve tried this year, the look of this combo appeals to me most: A cloud of gouache followed up with watercolor pencils for texture while the gouache is still wet. But I’m not sure the result is worth the additional “baggage” of using gouache (as before, I sketched from my car to make this one).