Sketching with Watercolour Tips and Pen Suggestions
March 26, 2009 at 11:25 am #34863
Hi fellow ‘Skiners,
I carry two Moleskines at a time with me for on-site sketching— I draw on the bus, on the side of the street, in cafés, etc. I usually draw with Micron Pigma pens then go home and add a wash of gouache for colour. What I’d like to do is carry a small palette of watercolours or gouache with me and paint on-site. The last time I tried this, I got some watery paint all over my bag and my pages were too wet to close the book and start a new sketch. Is there any way to conveniently watercolour on-site? I’ve seen plenty of lovely sketches with watercolours, and I’ve wondered when the paint was added and how the artist carried the book home. Any suggestions?
Also, I just recently moved to Istanbul from San Francisco and have been unable so far to find my beloved Microns. I would like to find a comparable pen with a rich black ink that’s archival and waterproof. One that doesn’t bleed through thin pages too, that comes in a variety of widths.March 26, 2009 at 3:29 pm #35682
Hello Szaza… maybe have a look at the artwork of Sanjeev Joshi at http://ssketching.blogspot.com/ It’s the blog of an Indian architect – he also posts on “Urban Sketchers” where in one post he mentions that he does on-the-spot watercolors only using two colors on a small palette. Perhaps the Indian heat dries his sketches very quickly, or maybe he would share with you some ideas.March 26, 2009 at 3:50 pm #35683
Hi Szaza. I have to confess that I too have problems with wet paintings if I try to do stuff outdoors. Heaven for me is to be able to sit painting on a warm, sunny AND CALM day allowing plenty of time for stuff to be dry enough to transport. It’s for this reason that almost all of my Moleskine “posts” have been finished at home. (I love to sit outside with full-sized pieces on an easel but this is normally in my garden – weather permitting). I usually take my digital camera out with me to remind me of some of the colours but this tends to distort things, especially distances, so my method is to make a sketch in my Moly to create “boundaries”, take a photo, then head home to finish it. Its not all that bad because you can make many an varied sketches in the time it takes to paint one small scene. If the weather is great, or I am on holiday, I have a set of expensive half pan sized watercolours in a metal box so I can paint till my heart’s content – assuming locals will leave me alone. (everyone wants to see what you are up to). One way to record some semblance of colours is to use watercolour pencils either on your drawing or at the side of your painting or on a piece of scrap paper, to make notes. These pencils, when wetted, dry very quickly. I use two types – my original set from Daler-Rowney and a set of Derwent Graphitint. I also have some CARAN d’ACHE colours which are expensive but great. (I spent a whole week in Paris with this set and a small water bottle and had great fun) Some of us, on this site, are trying to get used to Derwent Inktense pencils which are so bright. All of these types are waterfast and would dry quickly to overcome the transport problem. I’m not sure what Micron “Pigma” pens are but I purchased some Micron pens from JetPens and these are also waterfast and don’t bleed. I’ll close with some addresses and I’m sure that some of these people would make a delivery to Istanbul.
Derwent Pencils – http://www.pencils4artists.co.uk/?gclid=CJLTj4T3wJkCFSVM5QodoRb7tg
Caran d’Ache – http://www.artifolk.co.uk/catalog/artists_pencils.htm
JetPens – http://www.jetpens.com/March 26, 2009 at 7:15 pm #35685
you can buy Microns online… I’m sure they’ll ship them to you.March 28, 2009 at 4:24 am #35692
I use either watercolor pencils, or Inktense pencils, or Graphitint pencils, and wet them with the waterbrushes from Jetpens. its the cleanest, quickest, most efficient way to get wet color on fast. And you don’t need to carry blocks of paint, a cup, a rag, and water. All the water is in the plastic waterbrush, and to clean the brush, you just squeeze:June 26, 2009 at 6:17 am #35863
When I paint in plein air I carry everything I use in a small fanny pack, except for the larger watercolor Moleskine, which is too big to fit. I use the Micron pens in three sizes, waterbrushes in two sizes (the barrel fills with water, so no need to carry water), and like Margie says, to clean the brush you just squeeze out a drop of water and use a small tissue to wipe it clean. I LOVE THOSE BRUSHES for plein air painting, but you can’t do a nice wash with them the way you can with a good sable brush. For sketching they are great. I also have a small Windsor Newton half pan watercolor set with ten half pans in it. I didn’t like some of the colors, so I took them out and squeezed the colors I like and use into the empty half pans and allowed them to dry overnight. I also carry a sharp pencil, a small eraser, a white Prismacolor pencil and a white wax crayon (for wax resist technique such as foam in water, old adobe walls or light veins in leaves). Sometimes, instead of all that, I just use the Inktense pencils, but I haven’t really gotten good control of them yet. That way you can put in the color and then use water with a brush on it at home. The colors tend to be garish, so apply with a very light touch.
I also have heard of artists who use even smaller watercolor sets with just three colors, in an Altoids container (I think they are breath mints and it’s a tiny metal container). The colors I’ve seen used most often are indigo blue, indian red, and a yellow. Try those, or experiment with the other three primaries because from those you can mix almost any other color. Be careful with indigo blue because it has some black in it and can cause your colors to go “muddy”. I haven’t tried the three color kit because I adore color and like a bit more variety, but in tight quarters where you don’t want to be too visible or where you can’t carry very much, I think it might be fun to limit yourself to three colors just to see what happens.June 27, 2009 at 2:19 pm #35865
Its interesting that you use you three colours to save space. I have a copy of a terrific book on colour theory (Margie is familiar with this one). In it, Nita Leyland suggests trying different combinations of three colours to get different effects. Worth trying these as the final results can be quite effective. The book is:
Nita Leland “Exploring Color” – ISBN 0-89134-846-8 North Light Books, Cincinnati, Ohio
The Delicate Palette – Aureolin/Cobalt Blue/ Rose Madder
The Standard Palette _ New Gamboge/French Ultramarine/Cadmium Red
The Intense Palette _ Winsor Lemon/Winsor Blue/Winsor Red
The Opaque Palette _ Yellow Ochre/Cerulean Blue/Indian Red
The Old Masters’ Palette _ Raw Sienna/Payne’s Gray/Burnt Sienna
The Bright Earth Palette _ Quinacridone Gold/Indigo/Brown MadderJune 27, 2009 at 4:05 pm #35866
Thanks for that Bob. I think this winter when I’m snowbound I may just try some of the combinations you posted above. Seems to me there could be interesting results from just three colors.
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