Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Stepping out of my comfort zone...briefly.

I decided to participate in Sketchbook Skool. It's been a very long time since I was in any sort of school and I thought it might inspire me to try something new or different or try a different approach. Coloured pencil was the theme for this week. Not a favourite, though I have done a few. I put it off for a while but eventually settled down and did a study with a feather. I started in coloured pencil but it is so slow! So I added a watercolour wash.
A page from my sketchbook - Cockatoo feather in S&B Alpha landscape sketchbook
Next I decided I had better do a 'pure' coloured pencil drawing as I haven't done that since I did a huge drawing of sandstone rocks in about about 1992! I did a cherry tomato. I found the one Van Gogh brand pencil I had was more responsive than the Derwents that have been with  me since grade 3! Once again, it's so slow....
Coloured Pencil.

...and I much prefer the tomatoes I've done before in watercolour...(You can see them here)

So I decided to compare watercolour pencils with watercolour and see if that made me happier. I usually incorporate water colour pencils into mixed media works though I have done a couple of pure watercolour pencil works. 

The first is a watercolour wash in the top one and the beginning of a pencil drawing below. The wash was very quick. The pencil takes time.

Step 1 

Next I added the colour to the stems and used clean water to wash over the watercolour pencil eggplant.
Step two 

 The top one now has another deeper wash and a little more work on its stem.

Step three
I like the slightly random effects that happen with the water soluble pencils but i think you need a pretty large range to get the right colour, whereas in the watercolour version it only took three colours to get all I needed.

Below are the pencils, paints and brushes I used in my A4 Moleskine watercolour notebook.

My materials. 


  1. Its interesting to see your process photographs - the pure watercolour is my favourite. This week has been quite revealing in terms of what medium works for each artist. I agree with you in that one needs a large range of colours for coloured pencils much the same as with pastels.

    1. Absolutely! Pastels are the worst. :-) I am happy to mix up just about anything but rarely reach for coloured pencils.

  2. I so appreciate this! (I am in Sketchbook Skool, too. and, btw, couldn't agree more -colored pencils are sooooo slow.) The breakdown in photos is helpful. What kind/brand of palette is shown in last pic?

    1. Kelly the palette is a handmade brass palette made by John of called a Robertson style paintbox. There are a few guys hand-making brass palettes and they are really wonderful as you can get exactly what you want, though of course they are not cheap. David, of is also doing some wonderful things with brass palettes that are designed to be totally flexible in design. Very clever.

  3. Replies
    1. Yes they are each great for different purposes....or together of course!