David Bellamy – Pen and wash with limited colours

One of the joys of going away on holiday is the anticipation of exciting things to come, and one of the joys of being a professional artist is that this sort of thing is classified as ‘work.’ Whether you are professional or amateur you can still get a real kick in preparing for these exciting moments, and I do recommend that you give some consideration as to how you are going to tackle all this excitement with your methods, materials and choice of approach to the various subjects you have in mind.

This alfresco watercolour of Malcesine on Lake Garda was a demonstration for a painting group. Before flying to Italy I had decided that I would be using pen and wash for some of the lake scenes and limiting my use of colours. For this scene I decided on a palette of cool blues – mainly cobalt blue, with warm colours concentrated on the main features and the centre of interest, ie, the town itself. The warm colours were mainly light red, cadmium red, yellow ochre and quinacridone gold. This approach really does make the buildings stand out.

Because of the intense heat and the fact that I had to use Waterford hot pressed paper to accommodate the pen I had to work fast as the washes dried incredibly quickly. The smooth hot pressed paper tends to dry quicker than a not or rough surface. The pen I used was a fine-tipped sanguine colour to complement the warm-coloured buildings. I did not use it on the mountain features. This lends itself to creating a more unified result.

I’m afraid the reproduction is not first-class as it was photographed by a camera and not scanned at home, but it does give you an idea of the sort of methods you can try out, and not just while you are on holiday, of course. It always pays to think out how you wish to tackle the type of subject matter you will encounter on holiday, and ensure that you have all the right materials to work with.

David Bellamy – Sketching with pen and watercolour

One of the most effective ways of sketching is by using pen and wash. I carry around hardback bound sketchbooks of cartridge paper amongst the many odd items in my rucsack, and these accept pen drawings well. While the dip-pen and bottle of ink are the ideal way, it is less practicable to carry around bottle of ink, so I normally resort to a technical pen, although this has a uniform line.

This sketch was done in evening light in the Maritime Alps, on cartridge paper. I began with the ink drawing using a .02 nib. Where you have considerable depth in a scene, and especially with distant mountains, or wish to draw clouds, it is imperative not to be too heavy-handed with the pen on these distant elements. I prefer more intermittent line work rather than continuous lines as seen on the building, as this will suggest distance. In places I have totally omitted the line work and relied solely on the watercolour wash outline to describe the shape of far ridges and trees. The ink line is also an excellent way of rescuing a painting or watercolour sketch that is too weak in tones.

My recent trip to the Alps was aimed at capturing snow scenes, but there was no snow until the final day when I had to leave. Somehow the snow appears to have been deliberately eluding me this winter!

There are still one or two spaces left on my Croatian painting holiday in September. This is an easy, relaxed painting holiday in congenial surrounding amidst lovely scenery, and will not involve any wild mountain work! For details check out my website at http://www.davidbellamy.co.uk/painting-holiday-to-croatia-2016/

Pen and Wash Method

    Many people find watercolour difficult to control – in fact, most of us do at times, and it can be especially frustrating for those folk who enjoy and are good at drawing, but want to turn their drawings into watercolours. One excellent method of achieving this is to use the wash and line technique, where you draw the image in ink – laying down a preliminary pencil drawing if you are not confident to begin straight away with the pen – and then lay watercolour washes over the image.

    In this scene of a fishing boat I began with a fine fibre-tipped pen, drawing in the boat, ropes, bird and beach features, then once the outline was complete I worked in the tones by hatching with the pen, more intense in places, such as the underside of the craft, mainly by drawing the hatching lines closer together. When all this was done I washed colour over the image, weak washes, as the tone was already there, apart from the sky and one or two other parts. Pens are not especially good for creating interesting atmospheric skies, so I did use the wet-in-wet technique to include clouds and a darkened lower sky, but it could have been left as a plain weak wash, and the same applies to the beach. On the cabin I did lay a medium-toned blue-grey wash for the shadow side, although I could have hatched it lightly with the pen.

    Of course, you can simply do the drawing without any hatching and then lay washes in the usual way, mixing darker tones where needed, so there is much scope for variation with wash and line. Some prefer to lay washes first and then draw with the pen, a very effective exercise when the work has gone slightly awry! This was actually a sketch done on smooth cartridge paper, but you might like to try it out on hot pressed watercolour paper.

    The scene is taken from my book, Skies, Light & Atmosphere, recently published in the USA, and we are doing a special offer with the DVD of the same title on our website. The DVD is only available from us and all details are available on the site. ….and don’t forget to have a go at the pen and wash!