Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Rendering the Hand in Graphite

From simple contour sketching to shading ..........

Using a mechanical pencil, I first sketched a simple contour shape of my hand.  Then I took a paper stump and pulled the graphite shading giving form.  If I needed to go darker, I scribbled graphite on a separate piece of paper rubbing the paper stump in it and then back to the hand.  Or you can go back over gently with the pencil lead itself and then blending it out with the paper stump.  I worked these both ways until I achieved the look I was hoping for.

Side Note:  Have a putty eraser handy as it can be used not only for erasing areas you don't care for but as a great "tool" for adding highlights. 

Also sometimes I might want a nice evenly shaded area but might end up with a spot or two that's darker than the rest.............take your putty eraser and shape one end about the size of the area that's too dark and then just lightly touch eraser over the spot.  Many times it will lift just enough to make that spot blend in with the rest of the shading without messing up the tone you want (that's surrounding the dark blotch). If need be, gently "dab" the area again.

Done on cartridge paper:

Went with less lines for wrinkles on this next one........

Worked the finger and thumb in the same way. 

Practicing Snow and Trees

Painting snow USED to come fairly easy for me but I'm definitely feeling a bit rusty now.  I've decided I need to return to some basics again to especially include composition. 

Here are two pages where I'm just messing around practicing. 

Both pages in the Stillman & Birn Alpha series sketchbooks using W&N pigments.  Winsor Blue (Red), Fr Ultra, Indigo, Raw Sienna, and Bt Sienna.

#8 Round,  #4 Round, 1/2" flat, 3/8" Angular Flat (trying various ways to make the trees)

Not looking at anything but instead just using some imagination as I put down paint.

Saturday, November 24, 2012


Something a bit different.........

Stillman & Birn Alpha

#8 Round

Winsor & Newton:  Winsor Blue (Red), Winsor Lemon, Raw Sienna, Bt Sienna, and Perm Aliz

Left is the page I painted and the right using PS Elements to put the pieces together.

Friday, November 23, 2012

My Bunny Buddy

Here's a sketch I did tonight ................

Derwent HB in Stillman & Birn Alpha sketchbook

I really like the vellum surface for graphite work!

Started out using the side of the pencil lead for a roughed in sketch outline and then defined once satisfied with the proportions. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Holiday Preparation Soon to Begin

Newest graphite sketch...............

Stillman & Birn Alpha series sketchbook

Derwent HB pencil

My granddaughters were playing with my little wooden manikin yesterday and my wanting to sketch something, I chose to sketch this guy in the pose they left him in.

As I was working the manikin, I wasn't sure what to do with him.  Somehow I wanted to make a complete scene but was lost at first in what that might be.

Then it came to me as I reached the legs what I could do..............make him look like he's standing behind a table so I lightly sketched that in.

Next I had to decide what to do with his arms and hands as they were positioned.  So not to have to erase what I'd already sketched ......... I decided on something like a rope might fit well.

Thanksgiving evening I normally pull out our Christmas tree so my thoughts were with my sketch as well as what I'd be doing this evening.  That's when the rest of the sketch came together.  Decided to add a hat that would denote the holiday season that begins tonight and then the tree that would go with what might pass as garland for the tree. 

The manikin to me looks like he's standing there holding the garland asking if the viewer thinks it will be long enough to put on the tree :-))

Side Note:   I didn't  put in legs or feet as I wasn't sure with the angle I put the table in how to do it without it looking funny.  I tried a few light sketches of feet and it was a no go............So he's bottomless.  The angle of the table is like I'm above looking down so honestly wonder if any of his legs or feet would show anyways.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Playing with Dolls

Tonight I was in the mood for some graphite sketching and decided to play with a doll :-))

Taking this plant poke doll made out of miniature pots, I worked these rough sketches using a Derwent 4B water soluble pencil (dry) in my Stillman and Birn Alpha sketchbook.

Using a bit of artistic license I decided to try a few different things like the doll on the left (as you view it) where I replaced the mini pot legs with one larger pot to look like a long dress.

At first I used a stump to smudge the shading/shadows but wasn't real happy with how it looked I went back over using the side of my pencil lead. Here is the final results.

I started at top right working to the left and then the bottom.  The top right is a bit rough as I worked my first one.  Then the other two I felt a little more at ease with results being a bit more refined.

Christmas Card Possibility

Yesterday I worked on a Christmas card idea for my two granddaughters.  Trying to decide on what I might want to paint, I thumbed through the catalog I receive from the Artist's Club.  In the most recent issue were these wood ornaments with cute little critters that grabbed my eye.

Taking from several ornament examples .........this is what I came up with...the three cute figures together behind a package as if presenting it to the girls :-))

Another idea might be to take the illustration and place to the left on a landscape format card with written wishes to the right.  I'll have to play with that.

Watercolor sketch done in my Epsilon series sketchbook using W&N pigments.


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

My Main Fountain Pens

These are my four main fountain pens out of five I have on hand.

Didn't include the Noodler's Konrad as I'm not all that keen on it although it might come in handy for writing in general.  The nib is too thick for my liking with regards to sketching.

The Pilot Prera is definitely my favorite with the F nib.  One filled with a water soluble ink (Namiki Black) and the other with Lexington Gray.  This gray (to me) is a nice subtle dark gray I find works nicely with watercolor.  Not real stark where it stands out competing with the color later applied.

The Noodler's Flex (original) was my first fountain pen.  I enjoyed using it but didn't quite like the ink I put in..........too dark (Noodler's Black).  Once the cartridge is empty, I plan to fill it with either the Namiki Black or the Lexington Gray.  The nib is not as fine as the Prera......putting down thicker lines.

Now the Lamy I haven't done much with as of yet.  It has the original blue ink cartridge that came with the pen.  That too will be filled with another ink once the cart is empty.........just haven't decided which ink I'll use in it.

Winsor & Newton pigments used - Winsor Lemon, Winsor Blue (Red) (both Prera pens using these two pigments - one leaning more towards the yellow and the other more towards the blue), and Permanent Alizarin Crimson.  The lamy was done first with the water soluble ink washing it out and then going back over with some Paynes Gray.

#8 Round for all but the Lamy pen.  Used a 3/8" Angular Flat for the Lamy since I worked the ink into a wash and later applying some watercolor.

Stillman & Birn Epsilon series sketchbook

Along the Edge - Outside My Window

A little sketch of an area I see outside my window.  There are two scarecrows and this is the second I've sketched.  This resin rock formation used to be a fountain/pond until the pump died and we decided to convert it into a planter box. 

Early Spring we planted yellow pansies in the bottom.  Then another type annual I tried that didn't do all that great.  Can't remember the name of it and it was one I'd not tried to grow before.

This little set-up sits at the edge where the lawn meets the tree line of woods that surrounds us.

Stillman & Birn Epsilon series; Pilot Prera w/Lexington Gray ink; W&N paints - WB(R), RS, BS, BU, Fr Ultr, Paynes Gray, and Perm Aliz; #8 round.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Beach Treasures - Well Almost

Whenever we might happen by a beach, we spend our time looking for shells or sharks teeth (depending upon where we might happen to be).  Unfortunately, these type of shells I've illustrated aren't ones most can find along our beaches........instead you have to buy them.

Worked this a few days ago with a few shells purchased on our last trip to Texas.

Done in the Stillman & Birn Epsilon sketchbook using W&N pigments.....Winsor Blue (Red), Raw Sienna, Bt Sienna, Bt Umber, Perm Aliz

Pilot Prera with Lexington Gray ink

Danny Gregory's Newest Book - A Kiss Before You Go

 For all you Danny Gregory fans and potential future fans...............looks like this is going to be a g-o-o-d one (as are all his other books).

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Chair in Graphite

Talk about a challenge for me!!  So much detail with all the chair components to have to try and capture.  I found myself getting lost and a bit frustrated but I did make myself follow through.

This was done with a Derwent 9B pencil mainly using side of the lead and then detailing more with the point.

Worked in the Stillman & Birn Epsilon sketchbook.

9B is very soft and one doesn't have to apply much pressure to get darks.  I was a bit timid thus keeping the entire sketch mostly light to medium tone.  Also, due to the ease in smudging, I will have to use a fixative on this page.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Graphite Sketch on Stillman & Birn Epsilon

Haven't done much the last day or so.  Did manage this little graphite sketch tonight in my Stillman & Birn Epsilon series sketchbook.

As shown on page, used my 0.5 mechanical pencil.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Fabric Doll in Watercolor - Stillman & Birn Epsilon

While watching (actually listening) to TV tonight, I did this pen and ink with watercolor of a fabric broom doll I made years ago.  Done in the Stillman & Birn Epsilon sketchbook.

With this one I decided to push the limits on using watercolor.  Quite a pleasant surprise in how the paper handled my application of wet in wet.

Pilot Prera (F) with Lexington Gray ink

#8 Round

W&N pigments - Winsor Blue (R), Raw Sienna, Bt Sienna, Perm Aliz Crimson.

Green was mixed with WB(R) plus Bt Sienna

Looking at this on screen, if I were to do this again, I think I would incorporate some of the pink into the background to go with the dress.

Also, I would have liked for some pink bleed into the background along an edge or two of the dress but I didn't think of that at the time.  The background was put in well after the main subject was dry.  An after thought actually.


Friday, November 9, 2012

Doodling People

Just a little fun playing with brush and color in my Epsilon sketchbook. 

#8 Round with W&N pigments

Couple ink/wash figures with Prera and Namiki black ink.

**Some of the raw sienna limbs not showing up real well.  One lady looking like she's floating (grin)

Did these during a break vacuuming. 

Water Solube Ink and Stillman & Birn Epsilon Series

This is playing with water soluble ink with watercolor added after the ink wash has dried.

Stillman & Birn Epsilon sketchbook

Pilot Prera with Namiki black water soluble ink

#8 Round and 3/8" Angular Flat

There's just something intriguing about using water soluble ink and I love how it behaves on this paper.

These inks offer a challenge particularly when one goes to add a watercolor wash.  One has to take care in how much water is in the brush and how fluid the watercolor is when applying to inks that especially avoid total contamination or muddying of the watercolor.

What I find works best for me is pulling the ink first with damp brush and allowing that to dry.  What you will have is a black ink drawing with gray wash tones that have been pulled with the damp brush.  The washed out tones do not lift as easily mixing with the watercolor as untouched ink lines will.

And I often find an angular flat works well as it doesn't hold the amount of moisture a round does.  One feels in better control of the bleed spread.

Then using a fairly dry brush of watercolor carefully and gently lay down color so not to make untouched ink bleed and take over the color. 

One will undoubtedly come across an area of ink that had not been washed out that will bleed into the watercolor if the brush hits it.  The lighter the watercolor pigment, the more noticeable. 

The ink bleed can be used to one's advantage as it can create shadow and tone variation within the watercolor.  Just takes playing and practice to find what works best.  And, this technique doesn't always work out to my liking but now and then I get lucky with results I actually like.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Playing with Stillman & Birn Epsilon Series

Today I decided to open and try out my Epsilon sketchbook made by Stillman & Birn.

This paper is archival quality and heavy weight for Pen & Ink.  100 lb (150 gsm) natural white plate surface.

Definitely a different feel from the Alpha and the Beta.  As with any change,  I'm having to readjust or adapt to the paper so it will take me a little while before I feel comfortable saying too much other than what you might see with my initial notes on the pages.

Here are the results of the first few pages as I try two different inks plus a little watercolor:

1st Page - Pilot Prera with Lexington Gray permanent ink and light watercolor wash.

2nd Page - Pilot Prera with Namiki black water soluble ink and very slight watercolor swished here and there with damp brush.

3rd Page - Comparing both Preras with the two different inks.  Both Preras have the F nib.

4th Page - Quick sketch using the Prera and Namiki black ink trying to capture Miya looking up at me hoping I'd stop and play with her.  (Animals are not the easiest for me to render as I wish I could)

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Woodland Shrooms

This watercolor sketch is from imagination using a 3/4" daVinci flat.  Was a bit tricky considering the size page (5.5 x 8.5")  I was working on but I was determined.

And of course I never do things the easier way.........the mushrooms were painted first and then I had to work the background around them.  I just hate to use masking for one thing but the main reason is that I really didn't know where I was going with this.  I just worked the scene around the mushrooms.

This shows the two pages together in my Stillman & Birn Beta journal.  Although it wasn't planned as such, the two pages  together actually work out quite nicely.............guy hiking through the woods across rocky terrain and coming across the mushrooms on the forest floor (grin).

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Take a Hike

Thought I would take one of my 75 Day Challenge ink sketches from last year and paint a watercolor sketch .... along with a hiker to add a bit to the scene.

Completed in the Stillman & Birn Beta journal

Pilot Prera with Lexington Gray Ink

Daniel Smith pigments

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