I used to do lots of pencil drawing when i was younger, and really enjoyed doing so, but alas, it was another one of those enjoyable childhood things that life took away from me as i grew up.
But, it’s never too late to reclaim your youthful fun, so at 55 years old i went and bought some very nice pencils and paper and started again.
Yes, i know, i’m not very good, and guess what… “i don’t fucking care!” I’ve just started re-learning all this stuff again and it’s gonna take a while to get the hang of it, especially with a 55 year old brain to train.
At the end of the day, it’s not about being good, making money, or gaining fame. It’s about enjoying myself and reclaiming a part of me that got left behind long ago.
Plan: To do another of Peter’s enjoyable paint along tutorials which you can find by clicking here, and get to play with my new 13mm flat brush.
Learned: The flat brush is very nice and i really enjoyed painting with it. The Cobalt Blue Deep is very granulating, that sky, whoops. I bought this colour just because i was curious, well, my curiosity has been served. Not sure what i shall be doing with this colour in the future, but painting skies on hot press paper doesn’t appear to be one of its good points…
Soooo: …back to French Ultramarine for skies then.
Next: As i’m really enjoying doing these tutorials i’m gonna keep on doing them as they’re good drawing practice and challenging plenty enough for me to be learning about my paints.
I forgot to take a pic of the drawing before i painted it.
Learned: That the Pink Pig watercolour books are very good. This was a much better experience than painting on the Handbook sketch book, and oddly these Pink Pig watercolour books are much cheaper. I already own a Pink Pig sketch book which i used for this drawing. I think they’re incredibly good value for money with paper and everything made right here in England.
Soooo: I’m fairly happy with how it turned out for my second ever watercolour. Obviously plenty of space for learning and improving, which i’m looking forward to doing very much.
Next: I definitely need a few more brushes. Peter was using a flat brush throughout this tutorial and the only two flat brushes i have were either way too big or way too small, so most of my painting was done with a number 7 round with a number 2 round for the fine lines. So i think my next purchase is going to be a Da Vinci Casaneo size 12 flat to have a play with.
Here’s the ink drawing before i painted it:
This was drawn mostly using the reverse side of the nib, which works incredibly well with this pen and gives these amazing consistent fine lines.
For £1.25, including postage from China, this Jinhao 992 pen is really sweet. Yeah, you read it right, £1.25 including postage from China. And it works lovely with the SketchINK which is super important. If you like spending lots of money on disposable pens, wrecking the environment, then carry on, but if you have a couple of pounds to spare get on eBay and buy one, or several, of these pens and give it a go with some SketchINK — i think you’ll be surprised. The pen comes complete with the convertor as well.
Plan: I bought this pen in grey as i was hoping to use it to do shading on my ink drawings. The plan here was to have a quick, first go with this brush pen on a bit of crappy paper that was laying on my coffee table, but i got a bit carried away.
Learned: That the brush pen is a very interesting way of drawing and much more expressive than a pen or pencil. It goes from really fat lines to incredibly fine ones, if you’re gentle enough — which i do need more practice at. This pen is the grey version, which it gave a fairly reasonable interpretation of at first, but that was because the ink wasn’t really flowing and once the ink did start flowing properly it turns out to be almost black. I think most manufacturers need to reset their ideas of what grey means — like half way between white and black would be what normal people would call grey, not 90% toward black like this ink is.
Soooo: I’m rather pleased with my first play with a brush pen and will definitely be back with it in the future.
Next: I’m just gonna keep doodling with it until all this nearly black ink is used up and then i shall refill it with a much milder shade of grey and start using it for what i bought it for.
Thoughts: I was very anxious starting this as it’s the first time ever that i’ve used watercolours and i really liked my ink drawing and didn’t want to mess it up. I know i totally used the wrong paper for this and the washes and a few other bits just fucked up because of that. But, regardless, it was good to make a start with my paints.
Learned: I’m not sure what i learned in regards to mixing colours, but i did enjoy playing with them and seeing the colours change as i added new colours to the mix. Certainly some colours leave a bit to be desired, but i’m sure these things will improve in time as i play more with the paints. It was also quite difficult to judge the amount of water in the mix in regards to how light or dark the colour will be on the paper — but again, i’m sure these things will improve with practice.
I definitely learned not to use this sketch book for anything i intend to paint with watercolour. I bought a Stillman and Birn Zeta for future painting projects as i do like the smooth paper to draw and paint on so i’m just going to explore that for a while.
Soooo: I’m quite pleased with how it turned out for my first attempt at this kind of thing, especially the painting with watercolour thing.
Next: After this i feel a lot more confident having another go, so next i’m going to draw a picture in my nice, new, Stillman and Birn sketchbook and see how that behaves when i paint it. Fingers crossed it’ll be much better.
What a difference. After faffing around the last couple of days with the Cotman Sap Green struggling to make its presence felt against every other colour, the Permanent Sap Green had no problems holding it’s own on my mixing plate.
So i then had to redo my mix chart. I cut a couple of 12mm strips of the Fabriano Artistico paper and glue sticked them to the chart covering the old Sap Green — i most certainly wasn’t going to do the whole lot again.
When i finished the mix chart i then redid the swatch in a similar manner. As the swatch is in my Handbook Sketch Journal i cut the very last page out and made a bit to cover the places i needed to. The spare paper left over goes nicely into the plastic pouch inside the back cover for future mistake coverings.
So yeah, very happy now with all my colours. All that’s left to do is to sit and play with them and make pretty colour things on paper.
As i use the University of Youtube to teach me all about watercolours, it appears that artists eagerly produce mix charts for every palette they use. So, not to be outdone, i proceeded to do just this with my one single palette.
By doing this one can learn many things: it’s not just about the colours, but also the relative strengths of the pigments within each colour. And i do admit that it was also a rather enjoyable pleasure watching the colours change as i mixed them.
My palette consists of 17 Winsor & Newton Cotman colours, and one Winsor & Newton Professional colour — that being the Winsor Red.
It struck me as i was mixing them the difference in quality between the Winsor Red and the Cotman colours. When mixing with the Winsor Red i only had to apply a tiny amount compared to the Cotman colour i was mixing it with, else the Winsor Red would simply over power the other colour. So a good lesson learned there as to the difference between student grade and artist grade watercolours. I look forward to slowly swapping out the Cotmans for artist grade ones as time goes by.
Certainly the first colour i want rid of is the Sap Green. This colour, i felt, just totally lacked any mojo and was easily drowned out by other colours. It doesn’t look too bad on the mix chart, but to get those colours with it i had to use over twice as much paint as the other colours. So whether i want rid of it or not, it isn’t going to last very long anyway. Therefore, i shall return to the University of Youtube and find me a suitable replacement to try.
For anyone interested, i used a sheet of Fabriano Artistico trad white for this.
So my next step in my watercolour journey is to simply play around to find the colours i need and learn to apply them nicely in order to paint my recent picture of De Waag.
I really liked the look of the building and had a look at Teoh’s reference photo. It was quite a small photo and the building was obscured by a fruit & veg market and lots and lots of cars and vans, so i went off to Wikipedia and found this one.
Learned: Find a picture of the subject that i really like and with tons of pixels to exploit: 3872 x 2592. Don’t worry if you make a mistake, which i did several times for any amateur art critics out there who want to practice being picky as fuck while i practice my urban sketching. While i quite enjoyed drawing with the Uni Ball Pin, i don’t think the 0.1mm is 0.1mm, it’s not even close: i can get finer lines with my 0.5mm Rotring Tikky pencil.
Soooo: I do need to pay a bit more attention to what i’m doing as i did make some silly mistakes, but for a first go at sketching a building i’m rather happy with it. I also need to find a better pen for the really fine stuff. This pen will write quite fine but you have to be really delicate with it to do so, as soon as you allow any pressure at all it starts to get quite thick.
Next: I have to do a nice mixing chart with my paints, which should give me a little more practice with them. And then i get to cover my nice picture of De Waag in lots of pretty colours and you’ll all get to see how it turns out.
I’ll be back soon, so don’t go away. Well, alright then, you can go away, but make sure you come back soon and i’ll see you here.