Marina, Sequoyah Park

Marina, Sequoyah Park

Friday, March 27, 2015

New Supplies, New Sketches

Breaking news! Just as I was getting my photos together for this post a package arrived from Amazon. Okay, I admit it, I am always on the lookout for art supplies that I didn't know I needed and here is my newest find.

This is listed as a forever pen that never needs ink but it is a metal alloy tip that writes more like a pencil. When I looked this up on Amazon the reviews were not glowing. Many complained that the line was too light, too hard to see, more like a pencil than a pen and so on. I was not phased because I was seeing it as a possible tool for preliminary drawings, either for more detailed pen sketches or watercolor paintings. I often have a somewhat heavy hand and the more excited I am about a subject the more bold my lines become- this is not always an advantage when starting a drawing or watercolor painting.

I realize that I need to do a lot more experimenting with this tool before I know if it really suits my needs and is indeed "perfect" but here is my first test.

Yes, the line is very light although it is possible to darken it with some extra pressure. I hope you can see my little test in this photo. High score for  being light and looking like a pencil.

It is not heavy as some of the reviews indicate and though it comes in lots of models I chose this one for two reasons, the Cherry wood makes it warm to the touch and look at the shaped end, just like an aquarelle brush- I took that as a sign.

Some of the reviews mention that it is not smooth on the paper but I found it just fine, no problem with drag at all. Directly out of the box I found the line to be very fine and thin but it is also possible to sand it with extra fine grit sandpaper to sharpen it more. My initial test indicates that it will not be necessary. One thing that is notable about it is that it is not erasable so in that respect it is more like drawing with a pen that looks like a pencil. The next important test is to try it with watercolor and see what happens but I am excited about a fine light line in a tool that never needs sharpening or refills for preliminary sketches on location. I will let you know. Here is the link on Amazon if you want more information.

Now back to the sketches. I have been continuing to work on my figure drawing but the hint of Spring in the air has renewed my interest in getting outside and sketching some nature subjects lately.
I am organizing by sketchbook this time.

The first sketches are in my handmade sketchbooks. I have two of these, one is quarter sheet size 11"x 15" and the other is half that size 7.5"x 11". That way I can include any kind of paper I like and tear from full sheets with no waste for the journals.

As these are filling up it occurs to me that I should make another of each size, one to use as an "album" for finished work and another to use as a working sketchbook. I will put that idea on the list. The next group of sketches are in these books.

Here is a pen and watercolor sketch on Fabriano 140 lb soft press paper from the Tuesday session at Whiteside Portrait Painters.

Another sketch from the Tuesday group on Fabriano Hot press paper.

This one is from the Saturday group at Tulsa Art Center, on Arches 140 lb Cold press paper. I had painted the whole surface with a coat of Raw Sienna watercolor and then worked into it so the whites are done with Conte pencil.

One more from the Tuesday group on Stillman and Birn Beta which is 180lb, very nice paper. I bought a few sheets of Beta and Delta to put into my handmade sketchbooks.The basic difference is the color, Beta is a natural white and Delta is cream. Unfortunately on the day I planned to test this paper I forgot to bring my brushes so this was done primarily with watercolor pencils and water added after I went home. Not the best idea.

Most of the time when I am working with figures I'm thinking about trying to place them in environments or just adding them to landscapes and urban sketches but trying to get a likeness is an interesting challenge that I try with mixed results every now and then. I tried doing a second sketch of Martin in water-soluble pencil and watercolor for a better likeness.

The final sketch from the handmade sketchbooks is one of a Trumpet Vine from my backyard. The day was pretty and I was trying to finish a tapestry but couldn't resist a little outdoor sketching.

I have been thinking that this vine might make an interesting if complicated subject for a couple of seasons now and somehow the time to act was upon me.

The drawing is Brown Ochre watercolor pencil and pen with brown and grey De Atrementis document ink.

Here it is finished with the watercolor. It was somewhat of a challenge but I think I may be sketching this vine again. The next day I was out walking and found a lovely piece of twisted vine that I could bring into the studio for some more practice.

The next group of sketches is from my 8.5"x 5.5" Stillman and Birn Zeta sketchbook. This book is my second Zeta, now filled. I like Zeta, it is a heavy smooth paper and very pen friendly. The smooth hot press style paper makes watercolor look luminous and it shows up every brush stroke.

Here is a sketch of a scene from my painting studio window at sunrise one morning. I used both brown and grey inks,

and here it is finished with watercolor. It is satisfying to be inspired by simple scenes from every day life.

Moving on with the Zeta, here is a portrait attempt with watercolor pencil and ink. I was trying to test a  grey ink that I mixed from De Atrementis Document ink in Blue, Brown, Red and Yellow in the scarf pattern behind the model.

Two more little portrait sketches. Getting a likeness is elusive but fascinating.

Another little sketch. I was so excited when the Spring bulbs started to come out that I just had to get out and capture it in the sketchbook. This is also pen and watercolor.

Spring has been late coming to Oklahoma and even though it had arrived for a few days we are enjoying the fire again tonight as I write this as it has cooled off again. I loved how Cathy Johnson described it in a recent bit of poetry on Facebook, the crone of winter returns.

This is a scene I captured one recent evening while sketching instead of writing by the fire and is a common one at our house. Another sketch in pen and watercolor.

Moving onto the last group of sketches in my 5.5" square Handbook Journal from Global Arts. This paper has a little tooth, is a light cream color and seems too light weight to handle watercolor but it actually does very well with light washes.

This is my most journal like of all the sketchbooks I have going currently and I end up doing more writing in this one. These are the smallest most informal sketches and the ones I do when traveling.

Here is a little flower sketch with Derwent Inktense pencils. Watercolor pencils with a very intense color when water is applied. I see beautiful work that others do with these pencils but I am not yet comfortable with them. I also consider sketching flowers to be my weak link but I keep trying.

A little sketch of sweet Maisie with the colored leads in my Pentel Multi 8 pen.

This and the next two sketches are from a recent sketch crawl to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas for the special exhibit "From Van Gogh to Rothko"

Only pencil and colored pencil in the museum but I added some watercolor to this one after we left the exhibit.

This was done with the colored leads from the Pentel Multi 8 pen. I actually carry two of these in my bag which gives me 16 options including an HB lead, three colors of ballpoint and 12 lead colors in just two pens. Awesome for traveling light!

My final sketches from the museum. This is a very nice exhibit and a lovely museum. I am looking forward to going back and would love to do some sketching on the grounds. There is supposed to be an exhibit of Jamie Wyeth work later in the Summer that would be nice to see.

Another little sketch from this journal made while sitting on my front porch watching a Spring rain. Water soluble pencil, pen and watercolor.

I finished reading Freehand Sketching by Paul Laseau, a little book with some big ideas,

and sketched one of my Purrlie cats toys the other night very late after an anxious evening of weather watching while storms and tornados danced around us. It is a very colorful toy so I should enjoy another late night adding some color soon.

Whew, I remember thinking with all the work on the tapestries this month I wouldn't have much to share here but I am fairly exhausted by now.

If you have hung in to the very end and would like to see how my sketches translate to another medium move over to my tapestry blog where this sketch/cartoon has finally been finished as a hand woven tapestry.

Here is hoping for a Spring/Summer full of great sketching!

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