May 18, 2017

Key Secrets to Watercolour Pencils - Painting & Drawing Tips


Watercoloured pencils can be harder than you think!

As you know, I have been busy getting my journal ready for my trip to Scotland.  After a bit of research and practice I settled on my kit.  (My journal prepping posts start here.)   As a result several of my students have come to me looking for pointers on watercolour pencils. Turns out many of you have a set but have really never used them. Or if you did, found them very lacking.  I was in the second department.  However, after working with my journal I have really changed my tune. Here are some of my best secrets to success.
My Kit: 2 - 03 Pigma Pens, HB Pencil, Waterbrush,  Stillman & Birn Journal Zeta Series 8 x 5.5in, kneaded eraser, 12 Derwent Watercolour Pencils, sharpener, 
Some Key Secrets to Watercolour Pencils

1. Use your pencils dry like any coloured pencil.  Used dry they provide a lot of texture to the picture.  The harder you press the more pigment on the paper, the darker the colour. You can mix this up in your picture if you want. The contrast in texture can be very interesting.
Note the text on the left (dry pencil) and the smooth blended colour on the right. (wet with brush)  

2.  Activate the colour carefully.  Using a waterbrush or regular brush with water still means you work in your colour area.  For example: In the picture of Dunvegan Castle below, texture is created with the brush strokes.  Short strokes just in blue to activate it but not blend it completely into the gray that was also there.  Blending everything together ends up with grayed colours.  If you want separate colours, then activate the areas separately and clean your brush in between.  
Using short strokes without mixing my blue and gray, I was able to get texture in my wall. 
3.  Do more than one layer.  Once you have 'painted' an area, don't hesitate to do a second layer if it is not dark enough.  There is no limit to the number of layers you can put on an area to get the kind of dark you want.
In order to get the really dark areas in the rocks I repeated the layers many times. 
4.  Get a sharp bit of colour right from the tip. Just like you can use colour straight from the tube you can use colour straight from the pencil.  Just wet your brush, damp not dripping wet, touch it to the pencil tip and you will have straight pigment to add that punch you need in a special spot. See the shot of orange around the door and one window on Dunvegan Castle above or the dark blue on the shadow side of the fish shack above. 

 5. Get some good Darks in the Shadows.  When you are working with a set of coloured pencils the tendency is to reach for your black to get your really dark shadow. But, there are many other ways to do that. Here is a little picture I was working on with a student as we tested out her pencils.

 Cactus by the water in Mexico

Yes you can add black, note the dark shadow at the base of the bush line in the bottom left corner. But check out the tones on the main cactus.  That is a shadow laid down with a 8B graphite pencil in the dark area and then a lighter bit of graphite with a 2H on the lighter side.  Then a light wash over the graphite to smooth it out.  When it was dry I put my colour on top with my pencils.  Then activated that colour with water.  Note the rich dark blended area.  I have set up the second cactus with the graphite so you can see how it looks before the water and colour go on.  To me it is a warmer, richer shadow tone than the black coloured pencil.  A good contrast when I need it.  Note the dark shadow on the small cactus on the left side.  That is just a really dark blue line over the green.

So get those watercolour pencils out and try them again. They can do lots more than you think.  I for one am adding an 8B graphite pencil to my Scotland kit.  I really like the fast, strong dark I can get with it.
 Do you use watercolour pencils?  Any secrets you can share?

Great Opportunity to get some help with drawing: My  Drop-In and Draw Sessions  for June are Monday,June 12 & 19,  10-12pm, or  1-3pm.  Expressions Art Gallery, 227 & Lougheed Hwy, Maple Ridge.  Bring your sketchbook and your project and come draw.  I will be happy to give you a few pointers as you work on your drawing.  $15 Pre-Registration Required. Contact Me.  Less set until September. 

June 11- Art on the Farm
Kilby Historical Site, Harrison Mills. Join us for an Awesome ART Filled Day - sketch on the farm, join in hands-on drawing and painting sessions, see the sights.  My Hands-on Sessions will be at 12 & 2pm.  We will be drawing one of my flower favourites, Blackeyed Susies.  Have coffee and fresh pie afterwards at the cafe.  My personal favourite.  No registration, cost site fee only. 

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 As you know I am off to Scotland next week,  so my Shop will be closed until June 10. Look forward to seeing you then. 

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