Sunday, February 14, 2021



A long time ago I created a series of colored pencil drawings of Ft Vancouver, a National Park replica of the original fort located in Vancouver, WA. Initially I was only using colored pencils to work out my compositions before I painted them on canvas.  Along the way I found I really, truly enjoyed working with colored pencils and stopped at the drawings.  

Way back in the way back I couldn't figure out a way around the texture of the paper peeking through the colored pencil.  It is a common problem by the way - still is especially for newbies. Although small, it is a very visible imperfection - especially when the image is scanned. I tried all kinds of solutions, different papers with different surface preparations and different techniques to try to resolve the obvious problem. There was talk of using graphite to fill in the hills and valleys in the paper. It just muddied the colors. Some folks resorted to using chemicals to dissolve the colored pencils on the paper. I resisted because in my opinion they didn't offer a stable solution to the problem and there was the issue of working with toxic fumes.  My solution at the time was to work enormously large and reduce the image for prints and whatnot which reduced the obvious problem in the piece. Working in colored pencil is always labor intensive but having to work larger made it even more so.

Fast forward a couple decades and I'm revisiting the project because I happen to really like the subject matter and I've always wanted to solve the original execution problem I encountered years ago. There's an obvious work around - create a watercolor underpainting and then colored pencil.  It is by far less labor intensive than straight up colored pencil and the results are spectacular.  Once I learned about the dry brush watercolor technique I've been wanting to work in just watercolor whenever possible because it's much faster than anything in colored pencil and when done right, the dry brush technique creates similar results as a good colored pencil piece.  

So this is one of the experiments. All watercolor pigments have staining/nonstaining properties and different opacity indexes.  I am trying out my Holbein watercolors because I needed to test specifically the brown range.  I know from experience my Sennelier brown watercolor sits on the surface of the paper and I've discovered it is easy to accidentally lift it.  Handy when that's the desired technique, truly annoying when it's not.  For this image and several others I have planned I know I need to go dark as in lots of layers for a deep intense dark so I put the Holbein paint through its paces. I still have to figure out some quirks but I'm going to say so far, it worked out well.    

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