I have always had some watercolour pencils in my kit (since Sketchbook Number 1) but it has taken me years to find a way that I am really happy with since they are only ever a part time use. In fact in the early days I often used them to patch up a bad watercolour wash - would not do that now.
I don't like that they
- lift too easily - too much water and they disappear
- lose intensity when you add water (with the exception of a few colours that go way too intense with water)
- are so opaque
But I do like using them
- instead of ink for outlines
- as setup lines (I have been using brown ochre as a setup pencil for the last 12 months)
- for texture or small detail
AND I discovered last year that putting paint over them was much better than just adding water.
I have tried only carrying three pencils and then 6... but at the moment I carry 10 with me. Oh! no...it is actually 11 as I recently added cobalt green! I am happy with this collection. I can achieve a good range of colours but if I am worried about achieving an exact match I can adjust when the watercolour is added over the top.
I really focused on what colours were in my kit earlier this year when I taught a High Tea workshop for Rockdale Council. The addition of a bright green and the middle purple pink was a definitely a teacup response!
Recently however, I have developed a new way of working with watercolour pencils (WCP) that perfectly suits the occasions I think of using them. Those occasions are when I have NO time... and what I am doing is mixing up pencil - pen - paint.
Lynne Chapman got me thinking in Brazil... because she was just working with coloured pencils she was able to attempt a sketch at anytime. The ease of colour with WCPs is very liberating.
Last night I did this quick sketch of my suitcases - I am off for a few days to Newcastle for a workshop and a rare full day off (in association with my rest day, Sunday - I will have 2 non work days - that is so needed at the moment,)
Here is the first stage - I very quickly drew the outlines in the colour and roughed in some shading using a little mixing of colours.
Then I added some ink OVER the WCPs (solves the opacity problem) and then paint... and then a little more ink. Did the same for the camera sketch as well.
And another one or my paint tubes...
This way of working is super fast - it is not a polished sketch but at least I am sketching and I am happy with the freshness of these sketches. No overworking here!
I hope you can join me SketchingNow from November 12
Foundations - 12 week course. Essential Concepts for Spontaneous Sketching
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