Monday, January 21, 2013

Tennessee Barn in Watercolor

Last night I was in the mood to do some watercolor sketching so I grabbed my Stillman & Birn Beta journal and proceeded to sketch a barn that an extended family member owns.

Sketch following a photo leaving out a few elements like a large tree in front blocking part of the barn.

Daniel Smith pigments - Cerulean Blue, Cobalt Blue, Bt Sienna, Bt Umber, Indigo, Quin Burnt Orange, Quin Gold and a touch of Sap Green.

#8 Round and 3/8" Angular Flat

Pilot Prera pen with Lexington Gray ink

Note:  Was a bit disappointed in my scan.  My scanner doesn't like Cerulean Blue unless applied in heavy applications; and has trouble picking up the Bt Sienna properly (at least the Daniel Smith pigment).   I tried to fix in Photoshop Elements but was only able to get close..........not exact to the color.

Here is a video trying YouTube and MP4 format I hope shows on most platforms.  I have no idea who can or cannot view this video or what YouTube does with an upload and formatting.

The video shows how I first apply water to the area using an angular flat.  I use this brush as I can better control the amount of for wood, I just like the use of a flat edge versus the round brush.

Using various combination mixes of Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Sienna, I make vertical strokes wet in wet.

First layer is more of a gray allowing the area to dry or almost dry before carefully adding brush strokes of plain water again (I don't want to lift the first layer of pigment).  Then brushing on another mix leaning more towards the Burnt Sienna taking care not to completely cover white paper I left in first layer or color first applied.

Video also shows how I place the shadow under the roof line softening some of the edges with the corner of the angular flat as well as some pen and ink work in a couple areas of the roof.

After all dries, I add additional brush strokes wet on dry (I do NOT pre-wet the paper with water at this point) working quickly so I can rinse brush, dab on paper towel and then soften edges to help blend paint strokes with previous layers.  In this case I brushed on a mix of Burnt Sienna allowing it to dry or "set" and then a little Quin Gold to brighten an area.  I could have gone a bit stronger with the Quin Gold but I didn't want to overwork the example.  Best be safe than sorry :-))

Rest of this clip just shows where I added a few grassy clumps at the base of the barn and added a few more lines to the wood area.

NOTE:  The video appears I went from one step to the next without stopping.  I allow to dry or near dry between steps or layers as explained above.  I need to learn how to add captions and will work on that for possible future videos.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Watercolor Pencils and Paper Comparison

After the last post sharing a dogwood flower using Faber Castell Albrecht Durer watercolor pencils in my Stillman & Birn Beta journal, I decided to play some more comparing other Stillman & Birn papers.

In doing the comparison I wanted to create like flowers using the same four colors.

The results are basically the same.

What I did learn from this is that the Alpha series paper absorbs the moisture quickly resulting in more water on brush, faster application, and more brush work to get the color to spread.  I didn't have to keep adding darker tones as I did with the other two papers and that may be because the paper absorbs the color more quickly (just a thought on my part.......not sure if that's the absolute reason or not).

With the Epsilon, the water really pooled making it real easy for backruns.  I had to take real care in dropping more pigment (from taking brush to tip of watercolor pencil and then to paper) as it would spread or run easily where the surface took longer to absorb pigment.....thus causing the backruns.

And although the Beta is a true watercolor paper and water sat on top for a few seconds, it still absorbed a bit faster than the Epsilon making the wet in wet quite enjoyable without the fear of blossoms (although I'm sure I could make it do so :-))  I had to drop more pigment to darken those areas close to the center to obtain the value I wanted but was able to do so without the backruns.

As I was working with these watercolor pencils, I learned something I hadn't realized with earlier cannot erase pencil lines even when least not with a putty eraser.  I can't remember if my Derwent watercolor pencils erase or not.  I'll have to check that out ;-))

Painting these makes me think.........."Is it Spring yet??"

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Dogwood - Watercolor Pencils

Thought I would try my hand at taking a video clip producing this dogwood flower using Faber Castell Albrecht Durer watercolor pencils.

Done in the Stillman & Birn Beta journal book.

Photo illustration of finished flower is scanned.  All petals as well as the leaves were done in the same manner as shown in the video.

Video created using a webcam.

Personal Note - Being this is the first time I've ever tried creating a video using a webcam and converting to a format blogger allows, I'm hoping the majority can view this and it be of decent quality.  I know not all platforms will be able to view and I apologize for that.

Alt video file (MP4) - Best viewed if computer window is down sized.  Browser (at least Firefox does) opens movie stretched to window size that may not be the best quality.  If you downsize the browser window, the results look better.  I tested on my iphone and it opened nicely:  MP4 format

** After using the color pencil dry on paper, I am using a wet brush (not dripping wet) to spread the color.


Monday, January 14, 2013

More Playing with Faber Castell Watercolor Pencils

Here's another page in my Stillman & Birn Alpha journal book playing with the Faber Castell watercolor pencils.  My play consisted of two methods of color application:

1)  Dry application using pencil to sketch and color then taking damp or wet brush to area to spread the color; and,

2)  Wet application taking color off the tip of the watercolor pencil with a wet or damp brush and "painting" on the paper surface like one would with normal pan or tube watercolors.

So far.......what I'm finding with using WC pencils is I prefer to take color straight from the tip of the pencil with wet brush versus sketching with the pencil first and then taking wet brush to an area.


1)  No surprises in how something might look after a damp or wet brush is applied (example of what I mean with this statement is shown best in the tree illustration below step 1 vs step 2).

2)  No hard edges or "ring around" a center area washed with wet brush causing color to pool along the edges;

3)  I can obtain a nice controlled application of pigment/water before laying down on paper.  Again no major surprises.

Berry Example - Sketched dry vs Painted On

Notice the left berry where I first colored in with pencil and then applied a wet brush.  There's a hard edge with the color "washing out" in the center.  I can always go back when dry and add more value but this just shows the initial results.  I'm sure I could also soften those hard edges with no problem but I would prefer not having to go back and fix something if I can help it.

The right berry is done with brush and color taken off the wc pencil tip adding a touch more color (with brush) as the area dries. With me personally, I just feel I have better control of what I'm doing.

Flower - Sketched dry / Color Washed out / Painted on Darks and Streaks)

Next is a close-up of the flower.  For this example I started out sketching color dry on paper first and then applying a wet brush.

I lightly sketched by outlining the petals with the red pencil and then shading with up and down hatch marks where I would want my deepest color concentration.

Notice how smoothly the color washed with the wet brush.  I pulled the color from the base of each petal out towards the edges.  Had I used another brand of watercolor pencils, I may have ended with harsh pencil strokes showing after the wash created with wet/damp brush.

As the petals were drying, I picked color off the pencil tip with a damp brush and applied extra color giving the streaked look and adding some deeper tones.  .

* I took my pen and Lexy gray ink last for some detailing after all was dry.

These steps illustrate the direction and how the original hatch marks were put in before the wash.  The hatch marks were placed between petals and at the bottom of the front petal.  Color pulled from base up towards top of each petal.

The stem was done coloring one side with dark green and then taking a damp brush over color fading out to one side.  Also darkened the one edge with wet pigment from my brush after pulling color off the pencil.

The Leaf was done both dry sketching and washing out plus "painting" the color on with pigment taken from tip of pencil to add darker values of the color.

Tree Illustration - Sketched Dry and Color Washed

This final illustration is a better example applying or scribbling in color first (as seen to the left #1) and then using a wet brush to blend the color with first results showing in #2.  I went one step further in #3 as noted in the example.

The minus for me sketching or filling in color first straight with pencil and then applying wet brush is not having any idea how an area will look from dry to wet until after it's been done.  At the same time, look at the neat effect one gets using different colored pencils together scribbling in an area and THEN using a damp to wet brush.  It would be difficult to achieve that look grabbing color off tips of pencils with damp to wet brush first and then taking to paper.  There IS an element of surprise this way but that doesn't necessarily mean it's a bad thing :-))  Sometimes that surprise can make it fun and exciting.

My Personal Conclusion from Playing

This is one of those areas where each person might have a personal preference in application depending upon what they might be after at any given time and/or subject they are working.

If one wishes for no surprises and better control, taking pigment off the pencils and "painting on" might be the answer.  For those who love that element of surprise and the ability to play with unpredictable results, sketching dry first and then applying water would be the way to go.  Or as in my examples above, one can use both ;-))

Trying New Supplies

All I've ever been familiar with in watercolor pencils has been the Derwent brand.  After learning how differently the Faber Castell behave with water, I decided to purchase a few and experiment.

The major difference between the two brands turns out to be the initial line one puts down and how well it washes out or dissolves.

The Derwent watercolor pencils tend to leave the initial sketch line with some of the color washing out when a damp or wet brush applied.  The Faber Castell tends to totally wash out.  There are times I might want that initial sketch line to remain but more often I might just want the color wash without the line.

I really liked the feel and results of the Faber Castell.  Will be a nice addition to a travel kit :-))

Also wanted to try out the Derwent Graphitone pencil which is different from my Derwent Sketch water soluble graphite pencils.  The bigget difference right now that I'm seeing is how once wet and dried, one can apply a light watercolor (like yellow) and it not be contaminated or look dingy from the graphite.  I fear saying too much, at this point, until I've played more.

**Lines you see in the little primary color swatches happens to be ink..........not the watercolor pencil marks after taking a damp brush.  I went back afterwards and added the ink lines to represent flower petals as there were no marks at all with color completely washing out.

Pages from Stillman & Birn Alpha series journal book.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Lost Mojo

Now and then I go through slumps (as I'm sure everyone does at various times and I've mentioned before)..........some lasting for long periods.  Not sure what's going on with me right at the moment; but, I don't think it's one of my normal slumps.  Instead it just feels like I've lost my mojo.

If I were to say that to my family, they'd say I'd lost more than that (which may be true...ha ha ha).

I try combing through books and pictures hoping to initiate some motivation.  Thought I had last night but the results (to me) were .......... disappointing.  Another trick I use is playing with the online scribbler.  So far I'm still feeling like I've lost it.

Not sure if it's the weather or after holiday blues or what.  In all honesty, I just haven't felt up to doing much of anything to include my normal computer regime of reading my favorite art blogs, answering correspondence, etc. etc.  And going through books and photos has only been a half effort.

I did manage this using Scribbler hoping it might far - not really.

And although a bit hesitant to share, here's what I managed last night.  Maybe when I'm in one of these moods, I should NOT try something totally foreign to me.  With this I was trying a brush pen, which at this point I can say I do not much care for.  Why, is a question I can't answer even to myself.  I even tried to dress it with some watercolor hoping that might help.............nope.

Here's hoping this lost mojo feeling doesn't last long!!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Painting Snow - Examples from the Past

Thought I would share some examples of my snow scenes I've done through the years.

Idea to post now is from a question I read from someone asking to be directed in how to paint snow.  One person's work I studied to help me was Suzie Short.  (Link takes you to a you-tube video example)  I've also picked up ideas from Susan Scheewe as well as Peter Saw, Gordon MacKenzie and Sterling Edwards.

Basically what I learned is that we don't paint snow..........we paint shadows to create contours of the landscape and cast shadows from surrounding elements.

I practiced laying down lines and curves of gray blues and lavendar untoned blues on paper and while still wet took a clean damp brush and softened the top edges of the paint mark to blend into the white surrounding area.

With snow still covering the ground outside, I really should try some more snow scenes.  They've always been my favorite!!!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Brain and Hand Don't Quite Connect

Have you ever experienced where you look at something thinking......."Oh, I can do that.........doesn't look hard or complicated"...........only to find it doesn't quite work out as you might have thought?

I can sit and look at something and even sketch it out in my mind.  Then something happens when I take pen or pencil to hand trying to capture what I see onto paper with all the fine curves and angles.  That is what happened here with the rope and knots.

It might pass as rope and knots but the curves in the strands are not right or as they should be.  And really is not a complicated subject to try to render (at least I didn't think so).

Here's playing using Derwent Sketching water soluble pencil 8B............sketching out the lines first and then creating a pool of ink on my palette surface and painting on the graphite with a nylon brush for shading and tone.  To finalize, I went back over with either my Pilot Prera or Noodler's Flex pen and Lexington Gray ink (it blends in beautifully with graphite sketches).

Using Stillman & Birn Epsilong series journal.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Primary Daily Staple - Vegetables

After days/weeks of straight pen and ink, I was in need of some color so I broke out my palette and brush.

As my subject, I decided to go with what I'm having to eat as my main stay diet.......Veggies.

What's not included on this page are jalapeno peppers and cauliflower (my substitute for potatoes).  Some days I might have green beans or a leafy salad but these vegetables make up the bulk of our daily meals.  As for meat, we stick with a lot of ground turkey, chicken, fish and little red meat or pork.

These were done in the Stillman & Birn Beta journal painting with Daniel Smith pigments first and then Pen and Ink using the Pilot Prera and Lexington gray ink.

Colors Used:  Aureolin, New Gamboge, Raw Sienna, Fr Ultramarine, Sap Green, Aliz Crimson, Perm Red, and Bt Umber.

Brushes used:  3/8" Angular Flat and #8 Round

What a sight for sore eyes after staring at gray cold days and working with black and white for so long.  For me this is definitely therapeutic.  

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