Wednesday, April 2, 2008

3 Methods of Watercolor pencil/crayon Underpaintings

EDIT: I've had an epiphany and have figured out what I wasn't liking about watercolor pencils/crayons under dry but couldn't pinpoint! Its on my next post coming up! I'll link it here when I finish writing it.

First off, I did decide to cut apart my triptych, and I do like it much better this way. I will be doing the one larger, but i have to wait until I have other things to order before I get my big board to save on shipping.

I promised to give my opinions and experience of using watercolor pencils/crayons underneath dry colored pencil.

I tried underpaintings in a few different ways. On this last abstract bag duo, I did very simple shapes of color underneath dry colored pencil on tan board. I chose the lightest color I saw in each plane of the bag so when I added dark pencil on top the lighter color showed through and gave a glow to the overall piece. I also added white watercolor crayon underneath the boldly lit areas.

This method worked very well, and the light effects of it are spectacular with the light catching those lighter colors underneath. Plus you just can not get that bright of a white with dry pencil on pastelbord - the watercolor white really helped lighten it up.

I used Neocolor II watersoluable crayons which can easily be made to cover large spaces quickly. The fact that a little goes a long way is very desireable if working on a big piece.

In these bag drawings I deliberately did not do any details at all with the watercolor crayons - just very simple blocked in colors all over the board. I didn't try and smooth the dry pencil out on top of the neocolor because I didn't want to lose the feeling of the color coming through and the optical mixing that would get lost if I blended things in with dry pencil.

So pros of this method I would say are:

  • great light effects
  • can achieve wonderful saturated color
  • can achieve the "glow" effect by layering light colors first
  • can achieve very bright whites (not attainable with dry pencil on colored board alone)
  • Texture has character
  • Texture allows Optical Mixing of colors and the light colors to shine through
  • the watercolor fills in the tooth so you don't get the color of the board coming through and can achieve darks darks and lighter lights
  • Texture is not smooth, which is sometimes ideal with realism
  • Is a whole different experience than sitting leisurely with dry pencils
  • Short drying time added in

& now a look at a couple of other ways I've used watercolor underpaintings:

This piece was done with Caran D'Ache Spectracolors underneath dry Luminance and Pablo pencils on WHITE Pastelbord.

This again worked very well. I wanted to achieve the look of the transparent glass and the watercolor pencils really helped me achieve that.

On this one I did a more detailed watercolor pencil underpaintings and then used the dry pencils to smooth things out and to "fix up" areas that got away from me with the wet media.

The part I didn't like with the watercolor panting on this one was that it made rendering the paper a little more difficult. Maybe because I have done paper so many times with dry pencil, but I felt like it was a struggle instead of a smooth experience. The glass on the other hand was BLISS! The colored pencils smoothed things out wonderfully if I wanted them to, but lost the optical mixing that I achieved in the last images of the lit bags.

ANOTHER experiment:

This one was done with a very finished Spectracolor underpaitning on white board. The Spectracolor pencils have white in them to tint the different colors ( to get pinks, light greys etc) instead of relying on the amount of water mixed with the pencil. I think this is common with watercolor pencils. What that means however, is if you do an underpainting using a variety of tints and shades of a color, then you will not get a transparent watercolor look, but a look more like gauche. At first I didn't like this effect, but the more I look at it, the more I like it.

I think I would like to try more with this method - I mean look at that chalky blue bottle!


Rose Welty said...

Nicole, thanks for sharing and analyzing your findings - it's good food for thought.

Fannie said...

Thanks for sharing all this info. Nice work, as usual.

mofaha said...

Hello. I came across your site by accident (I was looking for coloured pencils). I really love your work and your unfussy writing. Thanks for sharing.