Saturday, February 28, 2015

Watercolor Pencil Practice - Continued

Taking one of my newest lucky bamboos, I decided to do more practice using watercolor pencils from tips and suggestions after taking Cathy Johnson's course on the subject.  My favorite pencils being the Albrecht Durer Watercolor Pencils.  Reason they are my favorite is because they dissolve so easily with brush and water.

And to share with others in addition to helping me remember what I did, I've scanned along the way.....

First thing I did was work a light pencil sketch on my page.

I think most often I enjoy starting my sketches and paintings with a light pencil sketch and it's not necessarily for precision.  For me using pencil first helps me to become familiar with my subject without fears or hesitation.  I can focus (without pressure) on lines, curves, negative space and relationships between parts of the subject rather than fearing every stroke I lay down in brush mark or ink line being wrong.  It frees me.  For some people that might be the opposite but this is how I enjoy working.

Because I worked in pencil, I could have erased it all and started over when I realized I was going to run off the top of the page but you know what..............that's OK.  Normally I don't erase anything until later (normally after I've painted or put my lines in with ink) but erasing is OK too if or when you decide to do so.  It's no crime to use pencil and eraser.  It doesn't hurt anyone to include the person doing so.  It's just another means of creating.  I know from hearing what others say and from reading, for some people using pencil might mean limitations or boundaries.  Some folks might even see it as cheating of sorts.  That too is OK...........for them.  It's a personal thing and what works for each of us / you is what's most important. 

I started with the vase and worked my way up and out. If I was going to run off the page, I'd rather have a leaf do so then the bottom of my vase.  Plus I wanted to get the ellipse of the vase worked out first as it's one of my toughest subjects to get right. 

Next step was adding color with the watercolor pencils.......dry. 

I used two watercolor pencils to begin laying down color in the leaves.........a light and dark green.  I'm still trying to gauge amount of dry pencil coverage to put down without going too far.  Ideally would be to get the tones right first time; but then I also know I can always layer if I don't get it right the first time. 

Next step - I used a damp brush blending the pencil marks on paper.

I tend to be a bit timid at first with how wet my brush should be.  If I want that wild explosion of color, then I know to use a wet brush.  However if I want more control, I start out damp........not wet.  Plus it doesn't take as long to dry :-)

While that was drying, I started the little pot using mainly the side of the pencil point for quicker coverage.  I noticed I tend to do this in a small circular motion in large open areas and going to the point in tighter areas.

Rest of the process

These steps I repeated to include going back over in areas already worked on the paper to build up tones.  I saved inking as my last step.

My finished page - in the Strathmore Soft Cover Visual sketchbook.

I'm still working through/learning how light or dark to go with dry pencil; how much water to use in my brush; and how much care needs to be taken not to disturb the watercolor already on paper when working layers. 

And for's this "journey" I now enjoy more than the actual results.  Nice results are just extra icing on the cake :-)  I've come a long way because it used to be the opposite for me.  I used to be more concerned with the results and never enjoyed the journey or process.  I'd often feel frustrated or stressed which for me hurt and held me back from personal growth (at least that's how I see it for myself).   Now I truly feel so much freer and happier and I do think I see some improvement.  If nothing else, it helps with building confidence and even more helps take me to a place where nothing else matters except what I'm doing at that given time.  An escape..................a safe place I can get lost in for however much time it might take me :-)

Monday, February 23, 2015

My Fountain Pens and Nibs

Saturday I received another new pen I've been eyeballing for some time.  I've read so many good things about Edison pens that I decided to finally purchase one.

Edison is a German made pen......correction - is an American made pen with a German nib.  Most that I have are either American (Noodler's) or Japanese (Pilot and Platinum) plus the Lamy which are German made.  I also have one from China (Hero) and one from Taiwan (TWSBI).

It's interesting how the nib sizes differ between countries.  The Japanese nibs run smaller than those from Germany or America.  And I have to say my top favorites tend to be from Japan.

Immediately after opening my new Edison and trying it out, I fell in love.  The nib is an EF nib and the smoothest one yet that I own.  Most of my pens have EF or F nibs as I prefer the thinner lines writing and especially sketching.  Unfortunately many of the EF nibs feel a little scratchy.

As I continue playing with various pens and nibs, I am also learning how to fine tune them.  I spent hours yesterday smoothing out those nibs I felt were just not quite smooth enough for my liking.  I mainly used Mylar paper which is a super super fine abrasive for polishing out the nib tines..........after making sure they were aligned properly.  A couple I had to actually take to using Micromesh which is more abrasive.  One of my EF nibs was sharp to where it actually tore through the Mylar paper telling me there might have been a burr on it you can't see with the naked eye.  I didn't see it with a loupe either but it must have been something like that.

After working figure 8s on the Micromesh, I felt something give and it started writing more snagging on the surface of the micromesh.  Then I polished it and now feels great using on paper.

In addition to the Edison, I also received another Konrad.........a blue marbled colored body as seen at far right in this photo.  Konrads come with #6 Flex Steel nibs but I'm replacing most with other #6 nibs that are not flex.  So far I have replaced with a Two-toned EF, Two-toned F, and Two-toned Italic stub nib (the smaller size).  I may get a M size or even a 1.5 Italic but haven't quite decided yet. 

Besides the nice looking display of colors and patterns, I plan to use each of these pens loaded with different color inks in addition to the various nib sizes.  This way I'm not constantly having to switch out inks or having to re-adjust the nib to feed by changing nibs all the time.

In addition to the pens, I purchased these displays.  It is much easier to find the pen I want to use rather than sifting through a box with all the pens together.  Plus this way they won't scratch or get marred up as easily.

From left to right:  Platinum Carbon Desk Pen cut down in order the cap posts to body during use; Original Konrad with #6 Flex nib; Sheaffer Calligraphy Fine Italic nib; Pilot Metropolitan with F nib; Pilot Metropolitan with M nib; Hero 578 Bent Nib; Lamy with EF nib; Lamy with F nib; Pilot Preras (both clear with green and the Lime Green and with F nibs); the five Konrads with various nibs; Pilot Falcon with Soft Find gold nib; Edison with EF nib; and the TWSBI Mini with EF nib.

I still have so much to learn about fountain pens, nibs, and even the various inks out there.  Different inks behave differently in different pens.  Some inks can clog pens (especially with EF nibs); some inks are lubricating; some feed wetter than others, and so on.  A new adventure I'm enjoying but taking a bit to sort through mentally.  I can only take in so much at a time.........LOL

Artistic Battery in Need of Recharging

For the last couple of weeks I've lacked motivation to do much with sketching or painting.  The interest is there but not the energy.  I find I go through these spells............kind of like needing my artistic battery recharged.

I remain diligent in keeping up with other artists .....sitting and looking at their work; keeping up with art groups I'm in; watching art videos; and reading anything I can related.  But actually feeling up to doing anything takes a lot during these times.

Even with that said, I have managed a few pages in my Strathmore Visual Soft Cover journal as I work through this.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Stunned Towhee

This page was done in the Meandering Journal using W&N watercolor and a Micron 005 and 01 for a little ink line work.

Pencil sketch first and then applied watercolor.  After dry I went over some areas with the Microns.

It was a real joy working on this Arches watercolor paper.  

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Squirrel Watcher

Funny but this sketch and subject behind it brings to mind the Song "Girl Watcher" and the tune has been stuck in my head all day.

In my last post I shared where I had taken a course by Marc Taro Holmes - Sketching People in Motion.  In addition to that course, I decided to take another called Picture Book Illustration - Animal Characters with Eric Johnson.  His course is using mixed media to create story book characters for children.

Taking a little bit from each course, I decided to do this sketch of Miya and her favorite outdoor past time..............watching squirrels.  The position I captured her in is her normal stance every time she goes out back.  There's one squirrel that will come within a foot or so from her and they will stare at one another for what seems like forever. 

Here are the steps I chose to use for this quick sketch......

Quick pencil sketch using a 2H pencil.  Sketched in the Strathmore Soft Cover sketchbook.

Unsure of just what I wanted to do, I decided to scan and print off on inkjet paper where I worked my next step adding ink using a Micron 005.

 I scanned a second time, printing off on another sheet of paper and worked a layer of watercolor using W&N watercolors.  This proved to be a bit challenging due to the paper buckling on me but it worked out OK. 

Again I scanned and printed what I had done so far and then took Albrecht Durer watercolor pencils for deeper tones and detailing.   I also used a white fine sharpie marker to add back in some whites.

As I'm posting this, I notice for some reason the scanner didn't pick up all the colors in this final scan (particularly the colors behind the fence area).   The background behind the fence should look more like the one right above.  :-/ 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Sketching People in Motion

This is a little (and I do mean little) sketch done in a 3 x 4" journal that was sent to me as a gift from a very dear friend living in the UK. 

The exercise was trying my hand at quickly sketching people who are in motion after viewing an online course I'm taking through Craftsy...............Sketching People in Motion by Marc Taro Holmes.

I was really impressed by the video instruction presented by Mr. Holmes.  A great source of information to go along with a book I have by him called The Urban Sketcher - Techniques for Seeing and Drawing on Location. 

Although the techniques are shared to help capture people in motion, one can use the information learned for anything they might want to sketch..........including from photos.

I probably should have tried this in a different journal better suited for wet media, but I tend to try and make any paper work.  This was a bit of a challenge but I think it worked out just fine.  :-)

January - Negative Painting Exercise

It's been a long time since I've tried painting one of these where you randomly place colors on a sheet and then create the shapes by painting around them (negative painting).

This was worked in the Stillman & Birn Delta Journal and I remembered to take scans along the way to share how I personally approached it.

I have found that the creative part of me doesn't like to come out and play these days.  I have conditioned myself anymore to sketch and paint what I see in front of me.  I find it much easier than trying to come up with things from imagination.  And it definitely re-enforces my preference for sketching and illustrating versus things like this.  All in all I WAS pleased with the results :-)


Other January Sketches

As usual, I'm playing catch-up sharing what I worked over the last couple of weeks in January.

These were all done finishing up the square format journal.

Strathmore Soft Cover - Gray Journal

New Handmade Meandering Journal made and gifted by Lin Frye.  Made from Arches 140 Cold Press paper.

What is a meandering journal?  It's an accordion fold journal opening up in various directions.  Lin makes hers with ribbon ties to help keep one side closed while working in one direction.  When finished, you tie that off and untie the other side working on the back folded pages.

The cover is made from matboard and I started adding a little something to the front with white marker.  Haven't finished it yet as I haven't decided what else (if anything) I'm going to add.

For those who would like to know how these are put together, check out this Video by Cathy Johnson


Virtual Sketchcrawl January

Cathy Johnson hosts a once a month (third Saturday each month) virtual sketchcrawl inviting people from all over to sketch something around where they live and sharing in her group,  Artist's Journal Workshop on Facebook.

For my contribution, I ventured quite a ways.............right outside the front of my house......ha ha.
Strathmore Visual Watercolor Sketchbook, Lamy Safari and Falcon with Lexy Grey ink. Daniel Smith watercolors.

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