I was challenged to use a tool I have but am not fond of for a week,
and to figure out why I never reach for it; mine was watercolor pencils.
I have a mess of them that I bought a millions years ago.
I began the week by picking a good range — one I might add to my travel kit —
and playing with them. I laid a lot of pigment on the page and then a little. I laid yellow (along second vertical line), red (along third vertical line) and then blue (along fourth vertical line) on top, seeing how the primaries mixed with the other colors, but also seeing the effects of mixing two watercolor pencils + water. I added a “black” (along fifth vertical line), a warm grey (along sixth vertical line), and a cool grey (far right). You can see both the watery mix and the lightly sketched pencil on either side of the lines.
After this week I have a better idea why I am not drawn (excuse the pun) to watercolor pencils.
It is not the brand — Caran D’Ache makes good materials. Currently I use them for light under-sketches with watercolors or acrylics. In college I used a lot of colored pencils in architectural renderings. No one used paint — watercolor or acrylic — but mostly reached for colored pencils on graphite drawings. I am good with colored pencils, and created several figures on black paper long ago. But the pencil thang just didn’t take.
I tried a weeping Buddha, and will use it in a my post on a series I am writing on my Buddhist practice, tonglen. I would not normally create light sketch lines on something small and familiar like this, but this is what I do when I have a complicated watercolor in front of me; this is to show you. I also added pencil for the wash. Ho-hum.
I have two types of pencils from Caran D’Ache, and the one labeled “soft” is better.
One of the reasons I don’t like water-color pencils is that they wet directionally.
They sit on the page and are pushed by the brush (image 3, above), instead of acting like watercolors or Caran D’Ache Neocolors II, which I have in my travel case, and use — I like the way Neocolor II color distributes, as it is can be manipulated much more like a watercolor. In fact, it is easy to pick up Neocolor and use it like watercolor in a pinch.
I used pencil below in a sketch with a pen, but I think watercolors would have been better. I then tried them by themselves, and really did not like the results. Granted, if I used them a lot I might have skill, but I just don’t see the point! I hate to say this, but none of this playing around made me interested in any way. I wish; as I said, I have a ton of these pencils. I continued to play with them, and picked a few colors out and will hold them aside in case I decide to keep them. I guess I will end up gifting some of them!
Can anyone else tell me why they love them other than they travel well?
Stillman & Birn Alpha journal with a Lamy Safari pen, a Noodler’s giveaway pen, and various Noodlers ink. Caran D’Ache watercolor pencils and Neocolor II crayons.
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I think your mug sketches are great but I am with you I cannot get the hang of watercolor pencils. They leave a grainy effect. Happy PPF
Yes, the graininess is something that I’m not fond of . . .
I’ve played these too but acrylics or watercolors are better…why..hm…it’s the feeling when you work, paint flows as your hand moves. It’s difficult to describe but it’s different! 🙂
I like your painting style…
I never thought of that — I think that pencils limit my creativity. Paint frees it . . .
Fabulous use of the watercolor pencils! Funny, I rarely use mine. Hmm. I sense some inspiration brewing …
Thanks for that!
Thanks Rose — I am attempting to use them or lose them — cleaning my studio!