Another Two Sketches: Two Different Mediums

This morning I was in the mood to sketch a scene. When I get into these moods I “just do it” and see what happens.

I’m still learning to paint loosely so I can create something in less than 30 minutes. That way I can feel like I’ve accomplished something in a small amount of time.

I created this painting without doing an initial pencil sketch and without looking at a picture. I took my paint brush and dipped it into my paint pans and painted away on my paper. It felt a bit “freeing” to paint like this. It only took me less than 10 minutes to complete. I could get used to this way of painting.

For this first painting exercise, I used my granulating paints from Daniel Smith and Schmincke.

I then decided to sketch out another beach scene and this time I used my fountain pens and inks.

I have to include this picture of my work in progress. I used blue painter’s tape to tape off an outline or window for my scenes. I ran out of tape for my pen & ink sketch and had to borrow a piece from my watercolor sketch. No time to look for tape. Have to keep going.

For my pen & ink sketch, I used a similar process by not creating the initial pencil sketch. I used my fountain pens and water brush and quickly completed my second beach scene.

I’m finding that it takes a bit more thought when I create my pen and ink wash artwork. Once I commit my ink to paper, that’s where the ink will stay. I can move some amount of color with my water brush, but basically some variation of the color stays where I’ve initially placed the nib to paper. That’s why I feel as though my sky is looking a bit strange. I got carried away and also forgot that I was working with ink.

Unlike inks, it’s easier to manipulate watercolor paints as I can blot/lift to lighten the color before it dries.

I forgot to mention that I’m using a watercolor journal from Canson for my test sketches. My beach scene sketches are on the backside of the first page. I wanted to see if the backside of this watercolor paper could be used.

Tip: Adding a color legend to my sketches. A few weeks from now, I won’t remember the colors I used.

Watercolor: Schmincke Galaxy Blue and Galaxy Brown. Daniel Smith Primatek Sleeping Beauty Turquoise Genuine, Jadeite Genuine, Fuchsite Genuine, and Bronzite Genuine.

Fountain Pen Inks: Robert Oster Steely Days, Kansas City, and Oklahoma City. Diamine Shimmering Enchanted Ocean. Van Dieman’s Ink Devil’s Kitchen.

Fountain Pens: TWSBI GOs with Stub 1.1 nibs.

Brushes: Pentel Water Brush

Paint Pans: Art Toolkit standard stainless steel pans

Journal: Canson Artist Series Watercolor Cold Press 140lb/300g (5.5″x8.5″) 20 sheets

Circles: Two Mediums, a Prompt, and Some Tips

I had a “circles” template I found in my art supply stash. I came up with a brilliant idea to create a two page spread of circles in various sizes. Before going crazy and adding my colors, I decided to split my two page spread into the left side for watercolors and the right side for my fountain pen inks.

I did go crazy and selected random colors to fill my circles. I was having too much fun!

Fountain Pen Inks

Here’s the right side of my page with just the fountain pen inks I used.

In some circles I took my fountain pen and drew an outline. I took my water brush and touched the breather hole of my fountain pen to draw out a bit of color. I painted inside my circle and also touched the outline to pulled the color into my circle. I tried to leave a bit of white or light color areas to represent the highlight of my circle. I also cleaned my water brush (wiping on clean towel) and gently brushed out the color where I wanted my highlight to be. A clean q-tip could be used to dab out the slightly wet color.

Sydney Lavender is my go to purple ink color. This ink’s personality really shows off its underlying inky colors when water reacts to the ink.

In the following circle, I created an outline for 2/3 of the circle or the edge that’s away from the highlight. This is another beautiful ink with lots of personality. Another favorite of mine called Steely Days.

This lovely green ink, Oklahoma City, is a wonderful surprise and appears to be bright and earthy at the same time. Another top favorite.

This pink color had been on my wishlist for sometime, but I always passed it up for other vibrant inky colors. I was so happy to receive this gift from a very special inky friend. It’s a lovely muted pink color with a tiny bit of blue. It appears to lean a bit towards a rosy purple color. It’s gorgeous!

Here’s my favorite shimmering pink ink color, Blood Rose. My painted circle came out bright and lovely. I’ve always enjoyed how this ink reacts to water. It’s a beautiful color to use for floral pen & ink sketches.

Watercolors

This left side of my page represents three (3) different brands of watercolor paints I used: Daniel Smith, Schmincke, and Sennelier. This was more or less a “test” page for me as I wanted to show off the different characteristics of certain lines of paints.

The Schmincke colors are represented by the “Galaxy” name. These are super granulating paint colors. Unfortunately, my paper did not have enough texture to show off what I call underlying colors or mixes for each Galaxy color. It does show off the granulation of the main color.

I used a few of my Daniel Smith PrimaTek colors which is represented with the “Genuine” in the name. I absolutely enjoy using these special granulating paints made from natural minerals and pigments. Jadeite Genuine is a gorgeous color. It’s made from the mineral called jade. Its fountain pen inky cousin would be Oklahoma City.

My Sennelier paint colors (lower half of the page) are a bit more vibrant and transparent in color based on the pan set I have. I found my Sennelier paint pans were the easiest to rewet.

Prompt: Create your shapes (circles, ellipses, squares) and practice coloring in your shapes with your fountain pen inks. Remember to leave the lightest areas for your highlights. See if you can create your colored shapes in two layers of color or less. Remember to let each layer dry before adding more color.

Tip #1: You might see a “bloom” appear inside of your shape. This happens when you add too much water/color to an area that is damp or nearly dry. The water/color has no where to go, but “bloom” out. Let the bloom dry. You can always add another layer of color on top of the bloom. If you are not sure what a “bloom” looks like, take a look at my French Vermilion circle in my previous picture.

Tip #2: When a water brush is filled with water, the brush tip will remain wet all the time. I no longer squeeze my water brush. Squeezing a water brush will force additional water onto the tip of the brush. It also requires frequent refilling of water.

I keep a small jar of water on my studio desk. If I need more water on my brush tip, I will put my brush tip into my water jar. I can also quickly clean my brush tip by dipping it into some water.

Tip #3: Keep a clean towel (paper, shop towel, Viva cloth) nearby. I use mine to wipe my brush tip clean or remove excess water.

Fountain Pen Inks: Robert Oster Sydney Lavender, Napa, Blood Rose, Steely Days, Aussie Gold, Oklahoma City, Cherry Blossom, and Sepia Nights. Colorverse Mariner 4 and Hayabusa. Van Dieman’s Ink Morning Frost and Enchanted Woods.

Watercolor Paints: Daniel Smith Perylene Green, Cascade Green, Lemon Yellow, Quinacridone Sienna, Rhondonite Genuine, Jadeite Genuine, Mayan Blue Genuine. Schmincke Super Granulating in Galaxy Blue, Galaxy Pink, Galaxy Violet, and Galaxy Brown. Sennelier Carmine, French Vermilion, Phthalo Green Light, Phthalo Blue, Dioxazine Purple, and Forest Green.

Journal: Stillman & Birn Beta A5 Softbound

Leaves: Pen & Ink Wash with Robert Oster Signature Fountain Pen Inks

I had a few minutes last night to create a quick pen & ink wash sketch of some leaves. Mostly from memory and using the available fountain pen inks in my TWSBI GOs.

I had cleaned out a few GOs that were almost empty including an orange ink that I could have used for this week’s inky leaves. Oh well. I took my creative license and pulled out a few Robert Oster inky colors that I had ready to go. As some of you know, when the sketching mojo hits, I have to grab what I have and let the creativity flow.

For my first layer of color, I started out with the gold ink color for the base or foundation color. I had to work quickly while the paper was still damp with the gold inky color and used the other colors to kind of blend in and let the colors mix a tiny bit on the paper.

Tips/Tricks: I touched my water brush to the breather hole of my fountain pen to grab some color and lightly dabble the color onto my leaves. If the inky color is too dark, I would dab once on a towel to remove some ink before applying the color to my paper.

For my top right leaf, I actually like how the Napa (burgundy) ink color blended with my Aussie Gold and Oklahoma City (green) colors.

For the other two leaves, I used a bit of Kansas City (brown) around the edges of the leaves. This brown ink is a lovely wet ink and I had to be careful not to inundate the leaf with too much brown color. That’s why you’ll see light strokes of color and I used my water brush to blend out or away from my lines. For the final layer of color, I added more gold ink to make the leaves glow.

I used Thunderstorm for the cast shadows. I would normally pull in the leaf’s color(s) into the cast shadow, but I decided not to in this sketch. I think just using Thunderstorm made the leaves pop off the page a bit more.

It took me two to three layers of colors to create my pen & ink wash sketch. If I’m not blending the colors on paper, I do let each layer dry before I apply additional inky colors. Otherwise, certain colors will bleed more and could create an unwanted color mix.

Last night, it was a nice break from my long watercolor sketching sessions and I enjoyed how quickly I could create my artwork using my fountain pens and inks.

Inks: Robert Oster Aussie Gold, Kansas City, Napa, Oklahoma City, and Thunderstorm

Pens: TWSBI GOs with Stub 1.1 nibs

Pen & Ink Journal: Stillman & Birn Alpha Softbound A5 (5.5″x8.5″) 150gsm 46 sheets/92 pages

My Small Palette

So far, you have seen my medium size metal palette container that I’ve been using for the last few weeks. I spent some quality time with this palette and enjoyed carrying it around with me. I did find my “Meedan” metal container to be a bit limiting as I could not comfortably add additional paint pans to the middle row. My picture shows two pans wedged in there, but it’s just sitting on the edge between my other pans. The metal brackets were too close and as a result my pans would not “fit” in the middle.

While I like this medium size container palette, I mostly use it on my studio desk and also to store all of my pans filled with colors. Makes it easier to go to one container and pull out the colors I need to use.

For a more portable and smaller urban sketching metal container, I came across this lovely container from Looneng. I selected to have eight (8) empty full pans included with my container. I did not have any empty full pans in my art stash and I know this will come in handy later.

This metal container met all my requirements for a portable watercolor palette. First, there is three mixing wells on the left side cover. Other brands have two large wells. On the right side flap, there are six small mixing wells.

Here’s a major requirement for me, having the ability to place six (6) additional paint pans in the middle row. You’ll notice the empty paint pans are turned in portrait mode. That’s a total of 18 pans that can be stored in this container.

I created a custom swatch card that fits in my container. Here I have my three primary warm colors on the left side and my three primary cool colors on the right side.

This week, I had lunch at a local sushi restaurant. My watercolor sketch is mostly from memory and just playing around with mixing colors. This sketch shows my first layer of colors. A work in progress.

I’m also using an Arteza water brush that works brilliantly with my watercolor paint pans. You can see my brush tip has darkened with use. This is normal. I use my Pentel water brushes for my pen & ink artwork. I have a future blog post I am working on explaining the difference/feel of these two water brush brands. Stay tuned!

Paint: Daniel Smith Extra Fine Watercolors

Metal Paint Palette: Looneng Empty Watercolor Palette. Select to include 8 empty full pans or 14 empty half pans.

Paint Pans: Meeden clear half pans

Swatch card: Arches Cold Press 140lb/300gsm paper cut down to size

Water brush: Arteza Water Brush Pen (assorted tips) in Medium

Journal: Stillman & Birn Beta Softcover A5 (5.5″x8.5″) 270gsm 25 sheets/50 pages

How Much Water Do I Need for Watercolor?

I have an issue with using too much water with my watercolor paints. I know I’ve said it before, but I wanted to mention it again for the purpose of this blog post.

I ran across a YouTube video from one of a few artists I follow. I enjoyed watching Jenna talk about how much water to use with watercolor paints. It was a game changer to see what I’ve been doing wrong for several years. What is the right mixture of water and paint color? What technique is the right one to use? Dry on wet? Wet on Wet?

I watched the video all the way to the end. That was hard for me as I wanted to jump in and create my own paint samples. I had to stop myself and breathe and watch/learn without doing.

As I watched the video for the second time, I was actually following along. Yes, I had to stop the video several times so I could “catch up” and paint along.

In the top row, I painted my circles using a dry-on-wet technique. My tea sample is what I would typically paint for my base color. Also, this shows I have the tendency to use too much water when I’m painting and mixing my colors. I have to remind myself to dab my brush on my towel before applying my brush to the paint or paper. By the time I get to the butter consistency sample, this is basically lots of paint and very little water. You can see my brush strokes around the edges.

In the second row I used the wet-on-wet technique and my butter consistency had less dispersion in the water and the color is a bit more controlled. The color is also quite saturated and bold. The tea/coffee consistency produced the most dispersion and ends up being a lighter color.

This was a wonderful exercise for me to go through and I learned a lot about water control. I think I was afraid to use the initial bold watercolor washes for my first layers. I sometimes forget that my watercolor sketches will dry lighter. I just have to remind myself not to overthink what I’m doing and just put paint to paper and let it go.

I’ve included the link below of the YouTube video that has been a huge help in my watercolor journey.

Paint: Daniel Smith Extra Fine Watercolor – Prussian Blue

Paint Brush: Cheap Joe’s Golden Fleece Travel Brush #8

Journal: Stillman & Birn Alpha 7.5″x7.5″ softcover

YouTube: Jenna Rainey – The Answer to Water Control Problems

More Pumpkins!

I was playing around in my art journal and came up with an idea of sketching pumpkins using my paint colors that I would mix on my own. Once I painted my watercolor pumpkins, I had a brilliant idea of sketching another set of pumpkins using my fountain pen inks.

The larger pumpkins were created using my watercolor paints. The smaller pumpkins I created using my fountain pens and inks.

It wasn’t too hard to figure out which fountain pen ink would match my orange pumpkin.

Steel Days was a decent match with my teal pumpkin.

For a purple ink color, my go to inky color is Sydney Lavender. This lovely color has a lot of personality. If you enjoy creating pen & ink washes as much as I do (poking my workshop attendees), I would definitely get this lovely purple ink color.

Watercolor Paints: Daniel Smith Extra Fine Watercolors (I forgot to document the color mixes)

Inks: My pumpkins were created using Vinta Inks Damili and Robert Oster Steely Days and Sydney Lavender. For my writing I used Dominant Industry Autumn Forest.

Journal: Stillman & Birn Alpha 7.5″x7.5″ softcover

Filling Paint Pans & Mixing Colors & Swatching

I had some extra space in my watercolor metal palette container and I wanted to add a few additional colors I have from my paint collection. For me, there is something zen-like about squeezing tubes of paint. Is it just me?

I found some extra empty half pans in my art supply stash. They are clear pans from Meeden that I purchased during the pandemic. The white half pans were sold out at the time and clear was the only pans available.

The picture shows two layers of color I squeezed into each pan. For the first layer, I squeeze enough paint to cover the bottom of the pan. I tap the pan on my desk to get the paint to settle into the pan. I use a toothpick to push the paint into the corners of the pan and then smooth out the top. I let the first layer dry for about 24 hours before adding the second layer.

I tap the half pans on my desk to remove any air bubbles. Be careful not to accidentally stick you finger into the pan while doing this. Lessons learned.

I was in a mixing colors mood (another zen-like moment) and I pulled out a few pans of colors to try. I enjoyed the results of mixing Opera Pink with Sap Green and I could see using that for painting skin or flesh-tones. A mixture of magenta with blue and green created a lovely “shadow” color. Of course, mixing the right proportion of colors helps.

For the last three swatches (mixes), I created some lovely green colors. This swatch card makes me happy. I think I will hang this up in my studio.

Paints: Daniel Smith Extra Fine Watercolor tubes/pans: Opera Pink, Nickel Azo Yellow, Aussie Red Gold, and Burnt Umber. Paint pans: Opera Pink, Phthalo Blue (GS), Quinacridone Magenta, Aussie Red Gold, and Nickel Azo Yellow.

Brush: Escoda Versatil Travel Brush in #8

Paper: Strathmore Watercolor Postcard 4″x6″ 140lb (300gsm)

Digital Sketching on an iPad

I’ve been playing around with a creative drawing app called Procreate. I had purchased this app awhile ago and did not realize that it would not work with my old iPad. I basically forgot about this digital drawing tool until a few weeks ago.

At Procreate’s website, I went through two tutorials to get me up and running with their software. I took notes (because that’s what I like to do) so I would not forget how things worked or wondered where I saw a particular setting or tool.

I was a bit overwhelmed after my first day of use. But not PhotoShop-like overwhelmed. That’s a totally different creative beast.

For my first test sketch, I played around with the various brushes to get an idea of how much pressure would be required while using my Apple pencil. There’s a variety of brushes that are included in Procreate and there was some familiarity based on my experience with other art mediums.

For my next test sketch, I wanted to see if I could recreate a watercolor artwork I had completed earlier this month. I snapped a picture of my pencil sketch and brought it into Procreate in its own layer. I added additional layers above my pencil sketch so I could play with the brushes as well as working with colors and textures. One day I will share this sketch with you in a future blog post.

In the meantime, here’s my first official Procreate sketch that I created on my iPad. Yes, it’s another pumpkin sketch.

The following pictures show my sketching progression from the initial lines to filling in the stem and the pumpkin and building up the layers of colors from light to dark.

Just for fun, I added a pattern layer to my pumpkin!

A few of you might be wondering why I’m getting into digital sketching. There are times, when it’s easier for me to grab my iPad and start sketching. Ideas will pop into my head and I find using my iPad is a bit more convenient. Plus I no longer have post-it notes or pieces of paper scattered around my desk or in my journals.

I can tell that Procreate has so much to offer and I’ve just touched the surface of its capabilities.

Tablet: Apple iPad (9th generation)

Pencil: Apple Pencil (version 1)

Software: Procreate

Back into My Watercolor Paints

Sometimes I just have to let go and see where my creative juices flow. Right now, it’s creating some artwork using my watercolor paints. I’m thankful for my sketching muscle memory and for having the ability to sketch quickly and spend more time painting.

It’s been a year since I last picked up my paint brush. My recent painting was from the previous post where I used my Sennelier paint set and created the teal pumpkin. That was my practice painting session to see if I could create something with my brush.

My watercolor mojo is back and I’m taking advantage of this wonderful creative moment by sketching more pumpkins. I remind myself to use less water and patiently build the layers of colors. Also, to sit back and let my painting breathe a bit and not overdo my artwork with too many layers.

For this painting, I used my favorite Daniel Smith Watercolor paints. I used a generic 24-pan set where I squeezed my tubes of paint into the pans. I wrote a post about this process and you can find it here. I also used my favorite brushes from Cheap Joe’s.

For the main body of my pumpkins, I decided not to mix any colors and just use the colors from my pans. I went with Quinacridone Coral, Quinacridone Sienna, and Pyrrol Scarlet. For the stems, I used Quinacridone Gold for the base layer. I created a browny mix using Ultramarine Blue and Raw Sienna and used it to darken the stems.

For the shadows under the pumpkins, I used the browny mix from the stems and added a bit more Ultramarine Blue. I also added a dab of paint color I used from the pumpkin’s base color.

I tried to remember all the watercolor tips and past painting skills I developed and I have to say it all came back quickly.

Just for fun, I used an inexpensive watercolor pad of paper that I found at Hobby Lobby. I liked the size of the paper and I thought I would give it a try. I was surprised at how well it handled the layers of water and paint I laid down.

Paints: Daniel Smith Extra Fine Watercolor Paints

Brushes: Cheap Joe’s Golden Fleece Synthetic Travel Brush in sizes 6 & 8

Paper: Master’s Touch Fine Art Studio Watercolor 140lb cold press paper in 6″x8″

Getting My Sketching Mojo Back with a Pumpkin and a Prompt

After eight months of sketching non-stop with my fountain pens and inks, my creativity finally went missing. For the last two months, I was hoping it would come back. It has slowly. I try not to force it. There are some days when I feel as though I should be doing something creative, but all I do is stare at a blank page for a few minutes. Then I would close my art journal and carry on with my other daily activities.

My Graphite Sketch

When I get stuck in a creative rut, I always fall back to sketching with my favorite art medium using graphite pencils. I used my mechanical pencil to sketch out an outline. I used my 2.0mm clutch pencil to create the dark lines and shading. I used my blending tortillon to blend/smudge the graphite onto my paper and to soften the harsh lines.

My Pen & Ink Wash Sketch

A few days later, I created a pen & ink wash sketch of my pumpkin. I used my Copic Multiliner to sketch the outline and also added contour lines to create the darker areas of the pumpkin. I used two fountain pen ink colors Oklahoma City and Steely Days for the pumpkin. For the stem, I used Kansas City and Melon Tea. For the shadow area under the pumpkin, I used Oklahoma City and then dabbed a bit of Thunderstorm and used my water brush to blend out and away.

My Watercolor Sketch

I was toying with the idea of getting back into using my watercolor paints for my artwork. Why not, right? I pulled out my Sennelier watercolor set and enjoyed my time mixing my paint colors. I used mostly a wet on dry technique since the paper I was using could only take light washes. For the last layer, I used a damp brush with my teal paint mix and created a few contour strokes to enhance the shape of my pumpkin.

Challenge: Find a pumpkin to use in your sketches. Use a picture if you can’t find a real or fake pumpkin. Use your pencil to create a graphite sketch. Then use your fountain pens and ink to create the second pumpkin sketch. If you have another art medium available (watercolor, charcoal, pastel, etc) create a third sketch.

My Art Journals:

Leda Art Supply Medium-size (5.7″x8.25″) with graphite pencils.

Stillman & Birn Alpha 7.5″x7.5″ softcover with fountain pen & ink.

hand●book journal co. 5.5″x5.5″ square with watercolor paints.

My Art Mediums:

Graphite – Pentel Energize Pencil with 0.7mm HB lead and Staedtler Clutch Pencil 925 35-20 with 2.0mm HB lead.

Fountain Pens & Inks – TWSBI GOs with Stub 1.1 nibs. Robert Oster Oklahoma City, Steely Days, Kansas City, Melon Tea, and Thunderstorm

Watercolor Mixes: Sennelier French Artists Watercolor Travel Set (12). Lemon Yellow and Sepia to create yellow ochre. Ultramarine Deep and Sepia to create dark brown. Forest Green and Ultramarine Deep to create teal green.

Watercolor Brushes: Escoda 1548 Versatil Series Artist Watercolor Travel size 4 & 6