Friday, April 4, 2008

Some trouble with watercolor pencil/crayon underpaintings

I worked on this piece yesterday. I wish I would have taken some progress shots, but I just plowed through it. I did a full underpainitng using Neocolor II's and Spectracolor watercolor pencils. Not just blocking in colors like I did on the bags, but tried to do a painting under the drawing with the correct colors and values as the end result but less detailed. Then the plan was to fill out and refine the watercolor painting with dry colored pencils. This was done on grey Pastelbord.

I decided to do this because the board I had is a dark grey and I needed the colors to be vibrant for this spring pic. The underpainting would hopefully kill that grey from coming through my pencil and killing the color. That is true, my colors are evry vibrant.... hmmmm maybe too vibrant.

Well I struggled with it as I have with some other watercolor pencil/dry colored pencil paintings. First off the neos and h2o penicls aren't like putting a wash of watercolor paint - they are pencils and leave a residue, even after dissolving with water, that limits the amounts of layers you put over it. Also, as I found with the background, if you decide the color you put down with the watercolor was not correct, it is very hard to change the color. You wouldn't believe how many layers I had to squeeze onto that background to alter the hue of the neocolor wash.

I find that after putting watercolor pencil or neocolor II that not only do you have less layers to work with, but because of the residue you also have to use much more pressure, so you are essentially pushing the pencil on or are already in a burnished state. I don't enjoy this, and neither does my wrist! It also makes it harder to put in little highlights that I needed to add on the flower petals. Putting dark over them is not a problem, its putting lighter more vibrant detailed pencil that is the problem. This is something that I love about working with sanded papers, that they allow me to put highlights in whenever I want, so losing that ability is very disappointing to me.

Its funny that it has taken me this long to figure out what I was struggling with and what FELT wrong when working over the h2o pencils/crayons. I've been able to get decent results, but with using extra time and struggling the whole way.

So my conclusion is that for me, I will use watercolor pencils and neocolor II's sparingly for underpaintings. I've found them great for dark black backgrounds and for paintings that don't have small important details. They worked great for the bags which were abstract and details could be left out, but also where I layered dark over light watercolor instead of the other way around.


Katherine Tyrrell said...

Great analysis Nicole - and it will of course be shared with my readers on my blog on Sunday!

My take is slightly different - but then I've been using watercolour pencils on Arches and a barely wet, almost a dry brush technique to wet the colour. I'm finding that works quite well - but like you I forgot to take scans!

Ann said...

I had come to the same conclusion after a similar experience. However I do like altering the ground of the pastel board with varied color so it's been a trade off of sorts. I just don't even try for any detail, but rather larger washes of color to be drawn over with cp. My current piece is with Inktense pencil washes, then cp on top. The Inktense seems to dissolve into washes better than neocolors do yet still have very vibrant color. Haven't taken any wip photos though.

Rita said...

This is beautiful Nicole and I don't think the colours are too intense at all!

In fact, that punch of yellow in the tulips is just the thing that sets this piece off. I love the contrast of the bright yellow against the muted background and tabletop, just the thing to look at after a very long winter.

Thanks so much for sharing this one with us!

Susie Tenzer said...

does everyone use neocolors as underpainting on board? how about stonehenge? I tried it once & didn't like it, but want to try again.

Nicole Caulfield said...

Nope - not at all Susie! I rarely ever use it. I sometimes use them in a background. Ranjini uses the all the time and does fab work, but I don't like the feel of c over it.