In a previous Tuesday Tutorial, I shared tips and suggestions for avoiding or fixing the mistakes I made using watercolor pencils. Today’s tutorial is all about painting with watercolor pencils.
The painting I’m using for this tutorial is more of a study, but the method I used to paint it works for under paintings or complete paintings. In either case, you can layer traditional colored pencils over watercolor pencil paintings and get the best of both types of pencils.
Painting with Watercolor Pencils
This drawing is only 4×6 inches on Stonehenge Aqua 140lb cold press paper. It’s ideal for this type of colored pencil work, because it’s made for wet media, but without the typical watercolor paper texture.
Because watercolor pencils don’t fill up the tooth of the paper, you can do a lot of work with them, let the paper dry completely, then use traditional colored pencils over them.
Landscape Study in Gray
In last week’s drawing, I started with a black watercolor pencil and intended to layer traditional pencil over it. I ended up adding washes with a gray watercolor pencil because the black was too warm. It was also much harsher in appearance than I wanted.
So this week, I started with the gray pencil, Faber-Castell Art Grip Aquarelle Warm Grey V.
I also used a reference photo for this drawing, and the results were much more satisfactory.
Color was applied to the paper with brushes, which I dipped in water, then stroked across the exposed pigment core of the pencil. I did most of the painting with a sable round.
Painting Trees with Watercolor Pencils
Since the largest part of the composition is made up of trees and bushes, I used a lot of squiggly or stippling (dots.) Both strokes are ideal for foliage.
I started in the shadows and continued layering color until I got the values I wanted in the shadows and darker middle values.
For the lighter values in the big tree, I then washed a very light layer of color over the tree. After it dried, I stippled additional layers to blend the values and soften the edges.
As I look back on it, I would paint the light wash first, then add the darker values. I’d even like to try adding some of those darker values while the wash is drying. Wet color dropped into wet or drying color “self-blends,” creating interesting results not easily duplicated any other way.
Happy Happenings and a Lesson Learned
For the grass in the foreground, I used a half inch sable wash brush that’s been badly abused. The hairs go in every which direction, so it’s perfect for random or semi-random patterns.
After wetting the paper in the dark area, I laid down a thin wash of gray. When it was dry, I added a few more layers by tapping the brush along the slope of the hill.
I absolutely love the look of this after it dried. It didn’t look as great wet, so I’m glad I let it dry before reworking it.
The brush I used for this is a trashed oil painting brush, so this is an ideal reason not to throw any brush away. You never know when it might come in handy!
This method is ideal for using a Flemish-style painting method with colored pencils.
Because watercolor pencils are permanent once they’re dry, you could use them with the Flemish method of painting. Simply paint each of the initial layers with watercolor pencils, then glaze color with watercolor pencils or traditional pencils.
One of the projects currently on my list is a drawing in which I use this method with different colors, to see if I can work through all seven of the steps of the Flemish method of oil painting.
A Personal Note
I did this work early in the week and intended to work on it again the next day. I really wanted to tone down that white triangle in the foreground.
But an altercation with a cat resulted in six stitches in my right hand and four of them were in the heel of my right hand. Right where I rest my hand when drawing or painting. Result? No more art for the rest of that week or much of the following week.
That happened Wednesday of the second week of January. The stitches were removed Friday of the third week. I had hoped to dabble enough to get a drawing for the third week, but that did not happen. I either have to adjust the way I draw, or wait until the heel of my right hand heals.
In the meantime, I hope you try painting with watercolor pencils.