Summer colds. Not much fun. I spent the week feeling like I was wading through tapioca, so I don’t have many sketches for the week of August 9.
The week was also busy with a student for the week, the latest freelance article, and other things going on. A couple of days ended with no energy for even the simplest sketch.
But I did get six sketches for the week; and that’s my weekly goal.
My Sketches for the Week of August 9, 2021
Branch Study in Derwent Drawing on Canson Mi-Teintes
The sketching week got off to a fairly good start given the circumstances. It was late in the day before I got to sketching, and I really didn’t feel like picking up a pencil, but did it anyway.
This branch was sketched with Derwent Drawing Olive Earth on Canson Mi-Teintes Fawn. Not the best color combination, perhaps, but not bad either.
I drew this from memory and imagination, combining interesting twists and turns, and other features seen in real life branches.
Mountain Landscape with Derwent Drawing on Stonehenge
With no particular goal in mind this week other than sketching, I used whatever paper was on the top of the stack. The first sketch for the week was Canson Mi-Teintes. Both of the next two sketches are on Stonehenge Fawn.
It was very hot and humid on Wednesday, so when I sat down to draw, I decided to draw something cool and not so humid. A mountain landscape with a lake in front seemed like the perfect subject.
I drew this scene from memory, but it was heavily influenced by two of my favorite landscape painters. One works in oils, and the other in acrylics, but they both do a lot of mountain landscapes.
So I did one, too!
And I’m very pleased with it.
Blue Mountain on Stonehenge
Derwent Drawing colored pencils are great sketching pencils. They work on every paper I’ve tried, though they’re better on traditional papers.
For this sketch, I chose Derwent Drawing Smoke Blue and focused on drawing space and form with line and limited values.
The mountains are imaginary. I simply sketched and shaded until I thought the sketch was finished.
Mountain Landscape with Derwent Drawing
This is a more complete sketch than what I’ve been doing. I used almost all of my Derwent Drawing pencils (I have about eight colors) to draw this landscape. The paper is Stonehenge Fawn again, which proved not to be a good color for the light blues in the mountains.
It was perfect for the rest of the landscape however.
This sketch is very loosely based on a photograph sent to me by a reader. I started a more “serious” piece late this winter, but have never finished it. So now I can say I’ve done something with that photograph!
Tree Branch with White Derwent Drawing
Back to Canson Mi-Teintes Fawn for this sketch, and back to just one color. Derwent Drawing Chinese White.
Instead of drawing a subject by drawing the shadows, I decided to try drawing just the highlights and reflected light.
It’s not quite as finished as I would have liked, but I was interrupted. One of my rules for this sketching habit is not to go back so something once I’ve put it down (unless I have to sharpen pencils or something like that.)
Still, I’m quite happy with the results.
By the way, I drew this from my imagination.
May in Kansas
The final sketch for the week was drawn with Derwent Drawing Sanguine on Canson Mi-Teintes Fawn paper.
I revisited a scene I drew last week. This week, however, I drew the main tree much as it appears in the reference photo, with leaves.
This is the sort of scene that makes me think I’ll some day do a more serious piece based on it. Neither this sketch nor the previous one shows the atmosphere of this morning time scene.
And atmosphere is one of the things I enjoy about drawing landscapes.
Comparing Stonehenge and Canson Mi-Teintes with Derwent Drawing Colored Pencils
I used either Canson Mi-Teintes or Stonehenge paper for this week’s sketches, and I used Derwent Drawing pencils on all of them.
Derwent Drawing colored pencils are a great sketching pencil. A full set of 24 colors is definitely on my wish list. The earthy colors are great for nature subjects as well as sketching.
And as I mentioned before, they’re ideal for traditional drawing papers.
Both types of papers I used are 98-pound papers, but they feel different. Stonehenge has a sturdier feel, but it’s also much softer. Canson Mi-Teintes is a nice paper for sketching and more serious drawings, but it’s best for colored pencils if you use the back side!
Those are My Sketches for the Week of August 9
And that’s my abbreviated report on my sketches for last week. It was disappointing not to have drawn more, but I’m pleased to have drawn any at all! It was just one of those weeks.
I hope you’re week went more smoothly, and that you were able to do some sketching.
If you have, I hope you’ll join me in developing your own sketching habit. I invite you to share them. I’ll be happy to add them as a reader’s sketch gallery to this post!
Last week, I did all of the sketches for the week on white Clairefontaine Pastelmat. This week, I used the same pencils, but all the sketches for the week of August 2 are on Stonehenge.
Here’s what I thought.
My Sketches for the Week of August 2, 2021
Koh-I-Nor Progresso Woodless Pencils
Green Desert with Koh-I-Nor
I’ve been generally dissatisfied with these pencils for every application, but I haven’t done much drawing with them. So my first sketch for this week was more like a color study than a sketch.
The scene is based on the Flint Hills in Kansas, but it’s totally imaginary.
And not as finished as I’d intended.
That was because I didn’t like the way the pencils were layering on Stonehenge. Stonehenge is super soft, and just was not a good surface for these pencils.
Tree Branch with Koh-I-Nor
So I went back to a more typical sketching style. I like this piece much better, but am still not happy with the pencils. Getting good, dark values was difficult.
However, I do like having the ability to draw broader, softer lines.
Blick Studio Colored Pencils
Elm Tree with Blick Studio
I sat on our back porch Tuesday evening with a few pieces of Stonehenge and my cup of Blick Studio pencils. My intention was to draw from life, but before I did more than choose a subject and rough it in, mosquitoes drove me back inside.
The two knots on the upper left got most of my attention while I was outside, so they became the focus. I filled in the rest after going into the house again.
Those two knots do intrigue me. I may have draw them more specifically later. After a cold snap removes the mosquitoes!
Mountain Landscape with Blick Studio
The idea of line drawing landscapes interests me enough that I decided to give it try this week. I wanted to see if I could draw a complete landscape with distance using only the darkness and thickness of the lines.
That was not only possible; it turned out pretty well.
But I had to press so hard with the Blick Studio pencil to get those dark foreground lines that I felt like I was impressing them into the paper. I don’t think I was, but I didn’t like working that way.
Prismacolor Soft Core Pencils
Mountain Landscape with Prismacolor
The next pencils I used were Prismacolors, and I started with another landscape line drawing. In fact, I redrew the previous sketch, but without looking at the previous sketch.
The Prismacolor I chose was Indigo Blue and it worked extremely well this way. I still had to use heavier pressure and repeated marking to get the dark lines in the foreground, but the overall drawing process was easier and faster.
It also felt more comfortable.
Rotted Plank with Prismacolor
For this drawing, I went back to the back porch. It was earlier in the day and more windy, so the mosquitoes weren’t much of a problem.
But I didn’t want to draw a tree again, so I looked around where I sat and finally settled on this rotted plank. I’d drawn something like it for the original plein air challenge in 2016, so thought it was time to revisit the subject.
I did a little bit of shading in the darkest values, but used mostly lines to suggest the weather-worn wood.
I’ve used Polychromos pencils for a lot of sketches since starting this sketching habit, so I did only two this week.
Flint Hills with Polychromos
Another line drawing landscape. I really enjoy sketching like this!
This sketch is drawn from an old, poor quality photo I took of the Flint Hills many years ago. I did a little more shading with this one than with the other line drawings. But I still relied on line thickness and darkness to convey the look of distance.
Tree Branch with Polychromos
Another sketch from one of my photos. This tree is near a local business and has interesting lighter patterns in the bark. Those light patches are what I wanted to capture, since they really defined the twisting and turning of each of the three large branches.
Lyra Rembrandt Polycolor
This is my Lyra Polycolor sketch for the week. It, too, is based on one of a collection of images I took a couple of years ago. I simplified the landscape quite a bit, and drew the main tree without leaves so it stood out even more from the clumps of trees in the background.
Caran d’Ache Pablo
The last sketch for the week was this tree trunk study with Caran d’Ache Pablo.
I liked the tree in the previous sketch so much that I decided to do it again with much background.
Crayola Colored Pencils
I got an opportunity to try a brand of pencils I would not be likely to ever purchase: Crayola colored pencils.
I love their crayons. The smell of Crayola crayons is one of my all-time favorite non-food scents. The colored pencils are made for the same artists for whom the crayons are made. Grade school students.
So I had no interest in purchasing them, even just to test them.
But this week, I came into possession of a large collection of them. Since a reader asked about them, I decided to do a little work with them, just to see how they measured up to my expectations.
One of my tests was a sketch on Stonehenge.
This sketch is called The Moor, and I drew it one evening while watching The Hound of the Baskervilles, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The moor shares some characteristics with the Flint Hills and I love drawing the Flint hills, so I decided to try sketching the moor.
I would have made more progress with a better pencil, but I’m still pleased with the way this turned out.
How I Rate these Pencils
I made some interesting (and surprising) discoveries this week.
As I mentioned last week, I have only one each of the Caran d’Ache Pablo and Lyra Rembrandt Polycolor pencils, but they turned out to be my favorites on Stonehenge paper. They both performed very well and I didn’t feel like I had to press very hard to get the darker values. I rate them about equal in ease of use and overall performance.
After that, my favorites, Polychromos and Prismacolor, tied for second. That’s not surprising. The really good pencils general perform well on most surfaces. And they weren’t that far behind the first two.
The Blick Studio pencils were okay with Stonehenge. I think if I had no other pencils, I could get used to them easily. But they are better suited for sanded surfaces in my opinion.
Koh-I-Nor Progresso Woodless Pencils are still at the bottom of the list, but this week they’re joined by Crayola colored pencils. I won’t be doing anymore tests with Crayola, but I’m not yet ready to give up entirely on the Koh-I-Nor Progresso pencils.
The most interesting discovery this week was the fact that Stonehenge has fallen from favor with me. It just seemed too soft and spongy after all the work I’ve done on the sanded art papers. In fact, by mid-week, I realized that my problems with the pencils were really problems with the paper.
And to think that Stonehenge was once my go-to paper!
Those are My Sketches for the Week of August 2
Another interesting sampling of different types of pencils on Stonehenge paper. I hope you enjoyed the results as much as I did.
I also hope you’ll join me in developing your own sketching habit.
And if you’ve created some sketches during the week of August 2, I invite you to share them. I’ll be happy to add them as a reader’s sketch gallery to this post!
Before I picked up a pencil to sketch this week, I decided to be a bit more deliberate. I’d still draw whatever struck my fancy, but I’d do all the sketches for the week of July 26 on the same paper.
I cut a full sheet of white Clairefontaine Pastelmat into 4×6 pieces (sixteen of them, plus a few smaller pieces.) My intention from the start was to try different pencils on Pastelmat just to see how they performed in a week-long comparison.
So hold on. This week’s sketching report is also a review of several types of pencils on Pastelmat!
My Sketches for the Week of July 26, 2021
Since this is a more “disciplined” sketching week, with a specific purpose in mind, I’m still listing sketches in chronological order. But I’m also doing a sketch or more with each type of pencil before moving to the next type.
So the sketches will be categorized by pencil, beginning with Koh-I-Nor Progresso Woodless.
Koh-I-Nor Progresso Woodless Pencils
I originally bought these pencils for use in laying down broad applications of color. At one time, I had Prismacolor Art Stix, which are Prismacolor pencils in a chalk-like shape. I never developed a taste for the Art Stix. After some early success with the Progresso, I decided they weren’t for me, either.
But I haven’t tried them very much on Clairefontaine Pastelmat, so they were the first pencils to come off the shelf this week.
Tree Study with Koh-I-Nor Progresso #1
I mentioned last week that I wished I was better at sketching in color, so I tried a color sketch first the the woodless pencils. I used Brown, Sap Green, Light Ochre, and a touch of Black.
These pencils are about the size of a standard colored pencil, so they’re easy to handle.
But they’re all pigment, so it can be difficult to get fine lines with them. I knew that when I started, so I kept my sketching loose in style.
The first layer or two went well. But then I remembered why I didn’t use the Progresso pencils more. They just don’t layer very well on sanded paper. It’s as if the pigment clogs up the tooth of the paper without filling the tooth; almost like all the pigment stays on the top of the grit.
Adding more layers just adds to the clogging.
It’s possible that using a solvent to blend would smooth out the color and sink the pigment down into the tooth, but for straight sketching or drawing, I’m not happy with them.
Tree Study with Koh-I-Nor Progresso #2
For the second Progresso sketch, I drew a similar subject, but limited myself to one color: Brown. I also chose not to layer color, but to use line to create value. I handled the pencil more like a graphite pencil, using directional lines, hatching and cross-hatching lines, and light pressure start to finish.
The results are better, but I still found the Progresso pencils a bit clumsy. I have no doubt that I could learn to create smooth, subtle color and value transitions with them if I continue using them.
I’m just not sure I like them enough to put in that kind of drawing time!
Blick Studio Colored Pencils
Cloud Study with Blick Studio Pencils
I was feeling a bit unfocused Tuesday morning, so after doing the second of the sketches above, I got out the Blick Studio pencils and started sketching. The sky I could see out the window was clear, but a nice blue. I decided to sketch clouds against a blue sky by shading the sky.
I used only two colors for this sketch: Ice Blue and Light Blue, and I applied both colors with light pressure for the entire sketch, but mixed strokes.
The sky is layer after layer of both blues, sandwiching Light Blue between multiple layers of Ice Blue (which is much lighter.) I used horizontal strokes, vertical strokes, hatching and cross-hatching strokes, and even circular strokes. In between some of the layers, I blended with a finger tip.
I drew the clouds by drawing the shadows in the clouds with the same two colors. But most of this work was completed with circular strokes.
The result was much more satisfying with the Blick Studio pencils than the Progresso pencils. I’ve tried Blick Studio pencils on a number of surfaces, and for my style of drawing, they seem to be made for sanded art papers.
I’ve been watching the videos of an acrylic landscape painter who paints the most remarkable landscapes. Many of them include water and from the first video, the process has mesmerized me.
And made me wonder if there was a way to get the same look with colored pencils.
As it turns out, there is. Slice tools!
I started out by laying down three or four different colors with medium-heavy pressure and back-and-forth horizontal strokes. I wasn’t particularly careful adding color, though I did try to apply colors in a way that looked like water.
Then I went over each area repeatedly until the tooth of the paper was filled.
Next, I used Slice tools to etch X shaped “stars” in the places where I wanted sparkles. They didn’t look like much at first, but after going over them a couple of times, they began to look better.
When I finished, I showed the sketch to my husband and said, “What does this look like?” (It didn’t look like much to me.)
“It looks like water reflecting trees or something,” he said.
I made my art notes on the back and called this sketch finished.
Tree Study with Blick Studio
This is the last sketch with Blick Studio, and I used Gold for this and sketched from memory and imagination. I didn’t really have a goal beyond playing with color, value, and shape.
I like the way this sketch turned out.
Prismacolor Soft Core Pencils
I did three sketches with Prismacolor pencils just because I enjoy using them so much. They’re not quite as good on sanded papers as on traditional papers, but they were still fun to use.
This sketch is drawn from a photo of a tree that was partially destroyed in a storm early in July. I received a few photos of the damage before the tree was taken down, and this branch caught my eye. The simplicity of the branches and the complexity of the positioning both drew my attention.
It was also silhouetted against the sky, which meant I could create my own lighting. I chose backlighting and big, bold strokes to add details I couldn’t see in the photo.
My subject for this sketch is a dead branch on a live tree in our front yard. After I drew it, I added other branches drawn with lighter and lighter pressure to create context for the main branch.
The main focus is that spindly looking branch so I keep the darkest values on that branch.
I merely suggested bark on the main tree with lines.
The final Prismacolor sketch is another, much older favorite subject: Horse hooves.
I’m not sure what appeals to me so much, but I really enjoy drawing the joints in the legs, particularly the back legs.
This was drawn without a reference photo so it’s a bit rusty. It’s been a long time since I drew a horse’s hoof and it shows.
I’ve used Polychromos pencils for a lot of sketches since starting this sketching habit, so I did only two this week.
Tree Branch with Polychromos
I used a Black pencil to sketch these branches from memory and imagination. I’m seeing improvement in my ability to use lines to convey form and create the illusion of depth on paper. Even with such a simple subject and one color.
Mountain Study with Polychromos
For this sketch, I used Polychromos Mauve. I really like the look of this sketch. It’s one of the more pleasing in this week’s collection (in my opinion.) The use of line to create visual texture in the mountains and the clouds turned out extremely well.
I think one of the reasons for that is that I didn’t over-work it. I tend to keep working on a drawing when I should quit. I’m not sure how to correct that, but it does look like I got it right this time!
Caran d’Ache Pablo
I have only one Pablo pencil and in the rather atypical color of Flame Red; atypical for a landscape artist, anyway.
So I did only one sketch with a Pablo.
Pablos are said to be a harder version of Caran d’Luminance, much like Prismacolor Verithin pencils are a harder version of Prismacolor Soft Core. In a way, that’s true. They are a bit harder than Luminance pencils.
But while Verithins are quite a bit harder and thinner, Pablos are only a bit harder and about the same thickness as Luminance.
This sketch turned out well, given what I was attempting to draw. My subject was a couple of dead branches hanging down on the interior of a favorite oak tree across the street. The branches were mostly in shadow, so there wasn’t a lot of middle values. But there were patches of sunlight shining through the foliage.
I was able to capture that look fairly well, but I had difficulty getting decent middle values with the Pablo pencil. They didn’t gum up the surface like the Progressos, but they weren’t as easy to use as the Polychromos either. That could be a lack of significant experience with this pencil. As I mentioned, I have only one color and I haven’t done much with it. Perhaps practice is all I need.
Lyra Rembrandt Polycolor
Another line of pencil for which I have only one color is Lyra’s Rembrandt Polycolor, True Blue.
I decided to sketch something I haven’t sketched in quite a while; a horse’s eye.
Polycolor pencils are a bit smaller than most of the other pencils I use. That wasn’t a major problem for me, but I know it can make a difference to some artists.
Polycolor’s are oil-based, so they’re a bit harder than wax-based pencils. The pencil I used laid down color nicely and I was able to get a nice range of values. I didn’t have enough color on the paper to scratch eyelashes with a Slice tool, but overall, I’m quite happy with this sketch.
How I Rate these Pencils
First: I’m giving Faber-Castell Polychromos a slight edge. I just really like these pencils for every type of drawing I do. They’re easy to work with, they have a great color range, and I have yet to find a paper they don’t work with.
Second is Prismacolor Premier. They’re not quite as handy on Pastelmat as the Polychromos, but they’re the first pencils I used. It’s difficult not to list them as favorites after using them for over twenty years!
Blick Studio pencils perform nicely on Pastelmat. They feel like a cross between Polychromos and Prismacolor. Color selection is more limited than either of those two brands, but they are very reasonably priced.
Koh-I-Nor Progresso Woodless Pencils are at the bottom of the list. I don’t know what it is about them, but I’ve never used another type of colored pencil that clogs the tooth of Pastelmat (or any other sanded paper) the same way these do.
What about the Lyra Polycolor and Caran d’Ache Pablo? My initial impressions are mixed. They both have good pigmentation and they feel good layering on Pastelmat. But I just don’t have enough experience with them to feel capable of giving an honest opinion.
They are however, pencils I would like to continue working with.
Those are My Sketches for the Week of July 26
I’m very pleased with the decision early this week to use different pencils on Clairefontaine Pastelmat. I hope you enjoyed the results as much as I did.
I also hope you’ll join me in developing your own sketching habit.
And if you’ve created some sketches during the week of July 26, I invite you to share them. I’ll be happy to add them as a reader’s sketch gallery to this post!
Despite some serious and potentially serious setbacks, my collection of sketches for the week of July 19 is satisfying. It is, in fact, the best group of sketches I’ve finished so far.
Yes. There was a clinker or two, but when you do twelve drawings a week, you’re bound to have a bad day. Right?
My Sketches for the Week of July 19, 2021
Prismacolor Sunburst Yellow, Spring Green, Marine Green, Violet on Stonehenge
Trumpet vines grow on the backyard fence and back of the house. A few ambitious vines have reached the back window of the room where I often sit to read or sketch or just take a few quiet minutes.
It was Monday evening before I got around to sketching. The sun was low enough to be back-lighting the leaves on the window. With the fence in shadow beyond those leaves, I decided to try capturing that almost glowing color.
I started by layering a bright yellow onto the paper, then adding Spring Green over that. That seemed like the logical thing to do, but it didn’t work. Darkening the shadows with Marine Green was an even worse mistake (in my opinion,) but I pushed on long enough to finish the sketch with a violet background and a solvent blend.
I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before, but if you really want to improve your work, you need to be prepared to make some bad art.
This sketch falls into that category.
Seeking the Light
Prismacolor Violet Blue on Canson Mi-Teintes Buff
I sketched this from memory and imagination, but based on an oddly shaped tree that stands at a nearby corner.
When trees grow close together and/or close to buildings, they often grow into interesting shapes as they try to reach the sunlight. Trees that normally grow straight and tall might become bent or twisted.
That idea fascinates me. I often find my gaze turning upward, looking for interesting patterns in the way branches have grown.
I’m not sure I like the combination of Blue Violet on this color of paper. Browns and dark greens work much better. But one of the purposes for this sketching habit is trying different things to see what works and what doesn’t.
Tree Branch Drawn with Left Hand
Prismacolor Marine Green on Canson Mi-Teintes Moonstone
Yes. You read that right. Drawn with the left hand.
The reason is that I sliced the knuckle on the third finger of my right hand on Tuesday evening. Bled like a stuck pig! I wasn’t sure what to expect the next day. But Neal bandaged me up and we took Tuesday evening easy.
Wednesday, I remembered reading about someone who was learning (or had learned) to draw with their non dominant hand. Since it was a bit painful to draw with my right hand, I decided to try sketching with my left hand.
The result was surprising. I could tell I’d drawn a tree. I had fairly good control of the pencil and managed to get decent values. But the appearance was very loose and sketchy. I didn’t even try to make long, graceful strokes; instead I made short marks with medium-light pressure and layered strokes to darken the values.
As different as this is, I liked it immediately.
I still do!
Saddle Back Mountains Drawn with Left Hand
Prismacolor Copenhagen Blue on Canson Mi-Teintes Moonstone
I liked the tree study drawn with my left hand so much that I immediately did another sketch with that hand.
I used the same short strokes in multiple layers in the shadows. This kind of short stroke overlapping in uneven patterns really were useful in drawing these two mountains.
I even got a bit daring and added birds!
A Ribbon of Hair
Prismacolor Peacock Blue on Canson Mi-Teintes Moonstone
All I can say about this sketch is that there are some things you should never try to draw without a reference photo.
I was trying to figure out how I would draw long, curly hair. I thought I knew what to do. Everybody knows what long, curly hair looks like, right?
The sketching went well, but before I finished, I realized that I hadn’t drawn long, curly hair; I had drawn long, wavy hair.
It’s a nice sketch.
Prismacolor Indigo Blue on Strathmore Artagain Paper Flannel Grey
Beyond those trumpet vines I sketched at the beginning of the week there are several huge trees. Earlier this spring, property was sold in that area, and the trees at the back of the property were stripped of dead wood and low branches.
Usually, I see these trees in the afternoon, when these branches are deep in shadow.
Today, I saw them in the morning. Those brightly lighted stubs of branches caught my eye. So did the way these three huge, vertical branches are growing.
Tree Study Drawn with Left Hand
Derwent Drawing Sepia (Red) on Strathmore Artagain Beachsand Ivory
Late in the week, after my injury had healed enough for right-handed drawing again, I found myself bored with the whole process. Nothing looked interesting out the back window or from the front porch. I was too lazy to search through my photo files for something to draw. So I just sat for a while, waiting for an idea.
The idea was to draw left-handed again; to see what happened. Could I duplicate what I’d done earlier in the week?
The answer was yes.
This time, I got out my half-dozen or so Derwent Drawing pencils. I’ve had them quite a while, but haven’t done much with them. That was certainly my loss, because they’re great for sketching! They go onto the paper so smoothly and nicely.
This sepia color is also perfect for this color of paper.
And I’m really starting to like this bolder style of sketching!
Trunk Study Drawn with Left Hand
Derwent Drawing Chocolate on Strathmore Artagain Beachsand Ivory
We took an elderly friend and one of her pets to a vet this afternoon. The news was not good and the pet was euthanized. I wasn’t attached to the pet, but I have lost pets to which I was attached.
When I got home, I drew this sketch as a way of processing what had happened: A routine vet visit with unexpected results.
Once again, I used my left hand because for some reason, that seemed appropriate.
Where a Branch Once Was
Derwent Drawing Ivory Black on Canson Mi-Teintes Moonstone
The idea of branches and trees standing against the elements while they have been hollowed out fascinates me. I’ve seen more than one huge branch that looked solid brought down in a storm, or cut down . It’s only when you see the branch severed like this that you realize the interior damage.
I drew this from memory and imagination. My main goal was creating a wide range of values while using mainly lines. I did shade the darkness inside the hollowed out branch stub, but everything else is line work.
Tree Branch in White
Derwent Drawing Chinese White on Canson Mi-Teintes Steel Grey
With this sketch, I wanted to try drawing something that looked three dimensional while using white on darker paper. The results would have been better with a darker paper, but this still turned out well.
Leaning Telephone Pole
Derwent Drawing Chocolate on Canson Mi-Teintes Buff
I see this telephone pole almost every time I look out a certain window. We pass it every time we drive away from the house or return.
But I’m rarely looking at it.
Today, the sun was shining on it and it caught my eye.
After I’d drawn it, I looked at what I’d drawn, and thought, “Aren’t telephone poles usually round?”
I’m going to have to walk out some time and take a look at this one.
Scratching Branch Study
Derwent Drawing Olive Green on Canson Mi-Teintes Light Grey
This concludes the collection of sketches for the week of July 19. I returned to the cat’s indoor scratching branch as the subject.
I have nothing special to say about this beyond my attempt to be a little more careful in drawing it accurately. I tend to embellish when drawing trees and branches like this, just to play with line and value.
Those are My Sketches for the Week of July 19
This week was good for sketching despite all the setbacks and unusual events. I’m quite pleased with these sketches.
I’m also quite pleased with the realization that my sketching abilities have improved since I began this challenge on July 3. It’s even more satisfying to realize that when I take the time to sketch more carefully, the results are even better.
I just wish I was better at sketching in full color!
I hope you’ll join me in developing your own sketching habit.
And if you’ve created some sketches during the week of July 19, I invite you to share them. I’ll be happy to add them as a reader’s sketch gallery to this post!
The weekly sketch along continues. I didn’t get quite as much sketching time in this week, but I still finished several sketches for the week of July 12.
My Sketches for the Week of July 12, 2021
Stone Hitching Post
We live across from a historic home that has become a local museum. The house was built by a prosperous business man in the 1800s, and it has two stone hitching posts at the curb. One on each side of the front walk.
I’ve sketched them more than once and have referred to them many more times. The most recent appearance of them here on this blog was as the subject for a tutorial on using GIMP to create digital line drawings.
I started the sketching week by sketching one of the posts with the evening sunlight striking it.
I believe the paper is Strathmore Artagain. It’s too smooth to be Canson Mi-Teintes, and too “hard” to be Stonehenge. It also has a faint fiber-like pattern embedded in the paper. That’s standard with Artagain.
I used Blick Studio White for most of the sketching and I sketched the highlights first. It was my intention to use just white, but the paper really wasn’t dark enough for that, so I used Blick Studio Black in the shadows.
Blick Studio Scarlet Red, Vermillion, and Dark Grass Green on Bristol vellum.
This one is from my imagination. It’s also a lesson in discipline.
I didn’t feel like sketching all day and it was evening before I picked up a pencil and piece of paper. I’d had a headache all day, and just wanted to quit for the day.
I don’t know if there’s a real flower that looks like this, but that doesn’t matter.
What does matter is that the day didn’t end without a sketch of some type.
Knot Hole #1
One thing I’m learning is that when I sketch something that isn’t a tree, I have a difficult time placing it on the piece of paper.
The first two sketches above would have easily fit on a 4-inch square piece of paper. I didn’t size them properly or place them very well.
Actually, I didn’t do that with this sketch, either. But that was easy to compensate for with a little background shading.
This is part of a dried up tree branch that I brought into the house in 2018 for the cats to claw and play on. It’s really served it’s purpose well.
It’s also a great subject for sketching!
I used Blick Studio Brown to draw this on Bristol vellum.
I must confess that I really like the Blick Studio pencils on more textured paper. They’re an absolute delight on sanded art papers and they work pretty well on Canson Mi-Teintes and even Stonehenge.
But they are a struggle on Bristol Vellum. On a smoother paper like this, I got the best results drawing with heavier pressure. That’s what I did in the background. It worked well, but it feels so unnatural.
This is another sketch using Blick Studio on Bristol Vellum. This time, I used medium heavy pressure and bold strokes to draw a tree branch by shading the negative spaces.
This piece was inspired by a view of tree branches against a night sky late one night. At that time, I thought about drawing the branches on black paper by shading the night sky. This experiment on white paper proved one thing: It can be done.
On Thursday, we drove to El Dorado, Kansas. It rained part way there and all the way back. Sometimes the rain was quite heavy.
One of the things I like about the Flint Hills is the vastness. All that space and distance is a delight to behold and something I really think about drawing a lot.
Throw in gray light, rain, and mist and the vastness takes on a totally different appearance.
When we got home again, I tried to capture what I’d seen with pencil and paper. Bristol Vellum and Blick Studio again. Cold Grey this time.
This isn’t very dark and it isn’t as complete as I’d hoped, but one of my rules for this sketch habit is to never return to a sketch once I set it aside.
One of the neatest things about sketching like this is trying new pencils and paper. This sketch was drawn with the only Lyra Rembrandt Polycolor pencil I own. True Blue. I used it on Bristol Vellum to draw these trees from imagination.
I wanted to see how I liked the Polycolor. It was a delight to use.
I also wanted to see if I could shade by using nothing but lines. So I used different types of lines from very thick to very thin, different values, and overlapping lines to draw these trees.
Yes, I did catch myself shading once or twice, but for the most part, the illusion of space in this sketch was done with nothing but lines.
Even the light, broad strokes in the background are lines drawn with the side of the pencil and light pressure.
Knot Hole #2
Back to the cat’s scratching branch!
This time, I paired Canson Mi-Teintes Pearl Grey paper with a Caran d’Ache Pablo pencil (Flame Red.) This is another type of pencil I’ve not used before. I have only one or two colors.
I’ve heard that Pablos are to Luminance with Verithins are to Prismacolor. A harder, thinner form of the same basic pencil.
But I found this Pablo pencil to be much softer than the Verithin. It was very easy to get nice, dark values even with this color.
Once again, I failed to place this sketch very well on the paper. I really need to work on that. But I kept drawing until it looked pretty good.
At least to me.
Dead Elm Branches
The last two sketches are Saturday sketches. Both are based on a towering elm in front of our house.
This one is of a group of dead branches several feet up. I used Derwent Lightfast on white Stonehenge.
I like the Derwent Lightfast pencils. I’ve sketched with them quite a bit this year. But they’re quite soft and aren’t a very good pencil for drawing crisp lines unless you keep a sharpener handy.
I don’t sharpen pencils when I sketch. I try to start with sharp pencils, then work with what I have until I finish. Since most sketches are 30 minutes or less, that works fine.
Unless I’m using a very soft pencil.
Stump Study #1
The last sketch for this week is also based on that elm tree, but at some point in the future. I simply drew the bottom of the trunk, then turned it into a stump.
I’m not sure why other than the fact that stumps are part of the legacy of trees that fascinate me.
This sketch is on Stonehenge White and I used Derwent Drawing Sanquine.
Those are My Sketches for the Week of July 12
Despite what seemed to me like a slow start, I ended up with nine sketches.
What’s even more impressive to me is that I now have a collection of 27 4×6 inch sketches when I include the five I did early this year.
I’m really liking this new sketching habit!
I hope you’ll join me in developing your own sketching habit.
And if you’ve created some sketches during the week of July 12, I invite you to share them. I’ll be happy to add them as a reader’s sketch gallery to this post!
I listen as often as possible, but usually as time allows. When I heard the topic for this podcast, I knew I had to MAKE time to listen.
The truth is that I’ve had a terrible time making time for art for the last year and half. It took six months to finish a portrait that should have take three, and the last two pieces I started (both early this year) are still unfinished.
I enjoy drawing once I start, and that portrait was the best portrait I’ve ever done, but it was still a struggle to make myself go to the easel. Goals weren’t working. Self-talks weren’t working. Even the disappointment of getting through another day (or another week) without picking up a pencil didn’t help.
I had no idea why.
But something told me I needed to hear this podcast. So when I got notice that the early version was available to Monthly Sharpener members, I sat down on Saturday and listened.
I’m glad I did.
Afterward, I decided to stop trying to make everything I do a “finished piece.” Instead, I grabbed pencils and paper, sat on my front porch, and dashed off five 4×6 inch sketches of one of my favorite things. Tree branches! It was great.
And they all turned out! That was even better.
The Weekly Sketch Along
Because of that, I changed my weekly art goal from three hours of drawing a week to six 4×6 sketches a week. That may seem like a small thing, but I can tell you it made a difference. The first week, I missed sketching only one day and I still ended up with fifteen sketches. (That doesn’t include an illustration I made for one of this past week’s blog posts.)
It turned out so well, I decided to sketch on a regular basis.
I also decided to sketch from life as much as possible, and to make a personal art challenge.
Here’s the collection of sketches from the first week.
My Weekly Sketch Along Sketches
Is a Weekly Sketch Along for You?
What I’ve found from sketching and life drawing is that it’s easier to loosen up and just draw what I see, then let it go and move on. Limiting myself to one color or to a limited number of colors has also helped.
If you’re having trouble getting motivated to draw, maybe this is the solution.
Would you like to join me in this weekly sketch along? I hope so.
Your sketches can be any size you like. They don’t have to be finished or perfect, but I suggest you not work on a sketch more than one work session. I refrained from working on one or two two days in a row, though I really wanted to. The idea is to start and finish without fretting over perfection.
You don’t have to post anything if you prefer not to, but I’d be delighted to see your sketch (or sketches) for the week.
When most people think of colored pencils, they may think first of sketching. Sketching with colored pencils is great for improving eye-hand coordination, exploring potential subjects, or just having fun.
But did you know you can make and sell colored pencils sketches?
Sketching with Colored Pencils
One of the most challenging things I’ve ever done in conjunction with horse shows are on-the-spot sketches. The drawing below is my favorite sketch.
At shows, someone presents me with a photo of their horse, dog or other animal and I create an 8×10 drawing from the image. As with most of these samples, I use colored paper and two or three colored pencils. The colors are chosen based on the color of the animal and I spend no more than an hour on each drawing.
Sketching with colored pencils is also a good way to sketch from life or do some plein air drawing.
Have Fun and Make Money
Clients love the immediacy and it’s a great way to supplement the sales of larger paintings and generate interest in more polished portraits.
My favorite part about this kind of sketching is that I often get to draw something other than horses. Dogs, for example. I also drew a cat for someone.
Sketching as a Study for Larger Work
I sometimes do quick draws to find the best composition for a painting. It’s also a good way to practice a particular technique or subject, or brush up on a difficult or unusual subject.
Or it might be something outside the realm of my usual subjects that catches my artistic eye. Sunlight on a leaf, for instance. Or on a glass.
They also make great gifts. With Christmas just around the corner, sketches like these may be exactly the ticket for the animal lovers you know. Sketching with colored pencils may be a good place to begin.
The first thing I did was wash generous amounts of rubbing alcohol over all of the dog except the ears, eyes, nose, and mouth. As before, I wanted to fill in some of the paper holes. But it was also important to break down some of the wax that had accumulated on the drawing before trying to add more color.
Once the paper was dry, it was time to finish the portrait. I used a lot of colors, so I’m listing color by area worked on.
I started with light peach applied with light pressure over all of the tongue. I followed up with flesh over everything but the brightest highlights, then blush over everything but the brightest highlights and middle values, and burnt ochre in the darker middle values and shadows. In other words, as I used darker colors, I worked on smaller and smaller parts of the tongue. In this way, the highlights were drawn by adding darker colors around them.
Then I applied a second layer of each color. I used the points of well-sharpened pencils with small, tight strokes and light pressure to get saturated color.
Next I glazed everything with carmine red and darkened the shadows with dark umber. After that, I adjusted color and value until it looked correct and burnished with the colorless blender.
Darkened the pupils and rims with black. Added blue slate around the highlights, then burnished with white.
Also highlighted the lower rims with blue slate and white using firm strokes and heavy pressure.
I glazed bronze into the inside of each ear with light pressure followed by blush and light peach with medium pressure. The backs and rims of the ears were done with black and medium pressure.
I glazed blue slate over most of the nose, then glazed black over the front part. I applied blue slate then white to the highlights around the nostrils then burnished the front of the nose with the colorless blender and reapplied color.
Then I dr3w the sides and the top of the nose using the same colors, but using the lighter colors more than the dark colors.
I needed to tone down the blue highlights in the lighter areas of the body and face, so I tried a glaze of bronze. The warm tones of bronze—which is an earth tone—made the blues less bold and added warmth to the hair.
Next, I added black, which I applied with the side of a well-sharpened pencil. I used firm strokes with medium or medium-light pressure—very light pressure over the highlights and heavier pressure in the shadows.
In each area, I stroked in the direction of hair growth.
To finish the portrait, I used dark umber and ultramarine to lay down a cast shadow to the dog’s left, then signed it, photographed it and sent a digital proof to the clients.
The clients approved the drawing but asked me to make the ears a little more scruffy. Stroking outward from each ear using tiny strokes and light pressure was the best and easiest way to make that correction.
I made those changes and the portrait was complete. It was delivered the following day and is now framed and hanging side-by-side with a portrait of another of the family’s canine companions.
Thank you for joining me again for the How to Draw a Dog in Colored Pencils series. The portrait of this black Bouvier is coming along very nicely. The color is beginning to take shape and the hair looks more like hair every day.
This is the fourth part in a five-part series describing how I’m layering several colors to create a natural, realistic black. If you missed any of the previous articles or would like to review them, here are the links.
Each of the previous steps in the layering process involved introducing a new color. This week, I’ll be working with previous colors again. But I will also be adding a new color: Black.
Before adding color, however, I blended the previous layers with rubbing alcohol to fill in some of the paper holes. I also wanted to blend the colors mechanically as well as visually. Rubbing alcohol was the perfect tool for both.
It also moved the portrait several steps forward. That’s one of the reasons I recommend an alcohol blend so highly.
I used a small sable brush with the hairs trimmed quite short to apply rubbing alcohol to the darkest areas, then spread it into surrounding areas to move pigment around a little. It’s not quite as efficient as using water and watercolor, but it works quite well and the results are almost always exactly what’s needed.
Step 6: Indigo Blue & Dark Umber
When the paper was thoroughly dry, I glazed indigo blue over all of the lighter middle values and most of the highlights. These areas hadn’t been worked on before, so I used very light pressure and the side of a well-sharpened pencil to lay down color.
Most of the work was accomplished in a single layer. For some of the darker areas, I used two or three layers.
I also finished the dark parts in the eyes by using the point of the pencil and medium-heavy pressure to draw the pupils and rims of the eyes. I added black to the eyes to darken them a little bit more.
Next, I sharpened the dark umber pencil and added a glaze in the same areas. Again, I used the side of the pencil for all the work. In the lighter areas, I used light pressure. In areas with more color, I increased the pressure to light-medium. Some areas were worked over just once; others received two or three layers of dark umber.
Step 7: Adding Black
From this point on, it’s all about bringing the previous layers of individual color into harmony. I used the same colors I’d used before (indigo blue and dark umber), but added black and used all three colors together to begin finishing the drawing.
I worked from one area to the next beginning with the off side front leg. In each area, I alternated layers of dark umber and indigo blue using the sides of the pencils and medium to medium-heavy pressure. Then I used the points of the pencils—mostly dark umber—and heavy pressure to create the hair shapes. Finally, I glazed black into the entire area with light pressure in the highlights and increased pressure until I was nearly burnishing in the darkest shadows.
I did the nose, too, but didn’t finish that. I also layered dark umber into the shadowed parts of the tongue.
Next, I burnished all of the drawing except the facial features, the ears, and the lightest highlights. The shadows were most heavily burnished.
Burnishing in random areas also allowed me to create subtle variations in the middle values, a method that worked best to suggest thick hair in the front legs.
After burnishing, it was fist-full-of-pencils time. I used black, white, warm grey medium, warm grey very light, and powder blue to work up the lights and darks and the shapes of random hair masses throughout the legs and body.
At this point, the drawing is starting to look finished. Everything looks pretty good except the head, which needs quite a bit more work.
In the next post, I’ll finish the head, then put the finishing touches on the drawing as a whole.
As mentioned in previous posts, I’m using Prismacolor Premier pencils unless otherwise mentioned. The drawing is on Strathmore Artagain paper in Flannel Gray.
For this portrait, I’m developing a deep, rich black color by layering many different colors.
Colors used so far are, in order of application, Indigo Blue, Dark Brown, and Dark green. For each layer of color, I used light to very light pressure and drew with directional strokes to imitate the pattern of hair growth and hair masses. I drew darker values with multiple layers and worked around the highlights.
As of the end of the last previous post, the drawing looked like this:
How to Draw a Dog in Colored Pencils, Part 3
Now for the next colors and layers.
Step 4: Adding Black Grape and a New Stroke
I layered Black Grape into all of the shadows and darkest middle values using medium pressure with the pencil tip. I sharpened the pencil frequently to work in the smaller areas, but I also allowed the pencil to become blunt while working in larger areas.
Most of the work was completed with the same methods with which I added Indigo Blue, Dark Brown, and Dark Green. But I added a new stroke and method with this layer.
For the new stroke, I held the pencil close to the end and used the side of the pencil to glaze color over each area. Part of the reason I chose this stroke was to lay down broad, even layers of color, as shown here.
TIP: Use the side of a well-sharpened pencil to lay down broad areas of color that show no pencil strokes.
Why You Should Consider Using This Stroke
Using a pencil this way also sharpens the pencil as I work. Believe it or not, you can get quite a nice point on a pencil this way so you save time.
You also save time in application because you’re sharpening the pencil and applying color at the same time. A third benefit is that the color is being used on the drawing instead of ending up in the shavings.
The secret is using light pressure so you don’t break the pigment core and don’t lay down such a heavy layer of color you can’t work with it without resorting to a solvent blend of some type.
I also began applying color with a blunt pencil and medium heavy pressure. For this work, I held the pencil nearly horizontal, but gripped it near the business end. Strokes were applied in the direction of hair growth with heavy pressure in dark shadows (around the eyes and nose in the illustration above) and medium pressure (along the shoulder and across the chest in the illustration below).
The net result was a more solid color layer. The blockier strokes also contributed to developing the bulk of the hair masses and the shape of the body.
And a look at the full drawing after adding black grape. You can still see areas that lean toward the blue, some that lean toward green, and still others that are more purple. That’s okay. You want those variations in finished drawing.
Step 5: Dark Umber
To keep all those colors from getting too bold, I next glazed dark umber over them. I used the side of the pencil and medium to medium-heavy pressure to apply the glaze.
In the first layer, I used closely spaced diagonal strokes that roughly followed the contours of the body. I didn’t pay much attention to hair masses or to values.
In the second layer, I continued to use the side of the pencil and medium-heavy to heavy pressure, but followed the contours of the hair masses rather than the body.
As you can see here, the colors are beginning to blend to create a nice, rich black color.
In the face and head, I darkened more of the middle values.
I also began doing the eyes, working around the highlights in each eye and the hairs that overlap the eyes. Ordinarily, I’d impress a few lines to indicate hairs. For this portrait, I decided to work around the overlapping hairs.
Also notice the addition of flyaway hairs around the left side of the head.
The brown is less noticeable in the chest, but you can see the saturation in the darkest shadow between the front legs. Gradually, all of the darkest shadows should look more like this.
How to Draw a Dog in Colored Pencils, Part 3 Concluded
I like the variation in color that is natural to building blacks with this method of layering. It gives even the darkest shadows a level of visual interest and color variation that you just can’t achieve with black alone.
If there is a disadvantage to drawing black colors this way, it’s the tendency to give up too soon or start adding black too early in the layering process.
In the next installment, we’ll continue layering colors with another layer each of indigo blue and dark brown. But we’ll also get to black and I’ll show where and how I used that to deepen the dark values.