Monday, March 10, 2014

Watercolor pencils

I spent several hours yesterday trying different techniques with my Prismacolor watercolor pencils.  Here is what I learned:

1.  You cannot expect to use them like watercolor.  Big broad loose juicy  watercolor strokes did not work for me.  When I used a very wet or sort of wet paint brush I moved the color around but the pencil mark remained.  I didn't like that look. My brush had to be slightly wetter than damp. (Does that even make sense?)

2.  It is better to layer colors and then wet the pigment to blend.  I tried putting on one color, wetting, layering on another color, wetting, etc.  Didn't like that.

3.  I had to think of them as colored pencils and not watercolor.  It is about mark making not about painting. It is a somewhat slow process.

4.  A smaller brush worked better for me.  I learned to use it like the pencils, watching my strokes and contours.  When I teach painting to my students, I always encourage them to be painterly and not to draw with their brush.  With this medium I felt like I was drawing with my brush. But that is okay.  It worked.

5. Just like painting, some of the pencil colors were more intense than others.  You have to experiment with these colors for blending.

6.  It is difficult to lift color.  I didn't try an eraser or an electric eraser.

7.  I liked smoother paper more than textured.  I had more success with a drawing paper than with a watercolor paper.

8.  The watercolor pencils would be nice for sketching on locations.  I used a small (#2 round watercolor brush), but a small waterbrush would work well too.

Here is my quick little practice painting from a photo I took many years ago:

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Final Sketchbook Test

I have finished testing watercolor sketchbooks. (For now.)  This final book is a Daler-Rowney Cachet.  It is probably my least favorite.  The paper has a texture that I didn't care for and behaves like hot press paper. When I tried to glaze over a color, the first layer lifted or made water spots of some sort.  It did lift quite easily for corrections or refinements.  But, when I pulled up the artist tape I had used to create sharp borders,  it tore the paper badly.


 On the left side in the sky, the paper actually tore into my painting. (I think you can see it.) I freaked first, then I glued it down with some diluted fabric glue.  The glue said it would dry invisibly, which it did, except for the sheen!  I should have tested it first.  Also, as I was brushing the glue on very carefully, the paper started to disintegrate.  

The tear is on the edge to the left of the house.  
Oh well, it is just a sketch.  

This is a building on the island of Île d'Yeu.  I'm not sure if it is a house.  It was from a photo I took and I don't remember what it was. (Maybe JB will know.)

I also painted this next one earlier in the week when we were off for snow and ice.  I could not make this thing work, and I am not happy with it.   I will put some of the blame on the paper and some of it on the artist.   The only reason I am posting it is because I loved this place. 
It is from a photo I took in the south of France in a village called Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, which translated means St. Marys of the sea.  It is in the Carmague area along the Mediterranean Sea.  These people believe that Mary Magdalene and two other Marys landed there after the crucifixion of Jesus. There are many legends surrounding these women, so who knows?  Maybe it is true. There are beautiful wild horses that run wild in the salt marshes of the region.  AND there is a huge gypsy pilgrimage that takes place here every year!

It seems so overworked. Every time I tried to glaze and add a layer of color, the underneath color lifted.  I should have stopped and left it alone. 

So these are the sketchbook I loved the most:

My favorite is the Kilimanjaro by Cheap Joe's.  A close second was the very inexpensive Cotman.  And I think I did finally love the Moleskin.  The top sheet in the pad curled a lot, but the second one did not.  And at first I didn't like the texture, but when the little paintings were finished, I liked the way they looked. (See earlier post.)

So now I will try some watercolor pencil sketching on these three pads and see what happens.  I have both Prismacolor pencils and Derwent to try. I have never been very successful with the watercolor pencils.  Maybe I just need to practice.