Painting with pencils

Many folk find watercolour painting rather a challenge: all that water seems to have a mind of its own, and rarely conforms to our own plan of how we want the painting to appear. An excellent alternative, especially if you love drawing, is to use water-soluble pencils. When I go out sketching I always take along some watercolour pencils, sometimes using them in conjunction with watercolour paints, sometimes on their own. They are also very effective in rescuing a wayward watercolour painting, or if you feel you are in a rut and need to try something slightly different.

For this small painting I used Derwent Inktense pencils with which you can produce a wide range of images, from quite subtle to deeply intense or vivid colours. If you lay the colours on first, on dry paper, blending them into one another where needed, and then wash over with clean water you can create lovely washes. While the washes were still damp I drew into them with the darker pencils, to create detail on crag, cliffs, cottages, masts and foreground detail. For this scene I chose a sheet of the new Derwent watercolour paper, an excellent 300gsm hot-pressed surface that is sympathetic to their pencils, an excellent surface for both drawing and laying washes. One of the beauties about this medium is that you don’t need much space to work and you can carry the materials around quite easily. Note that wet colour dries quicker on hot pressed paper, so ensure that your pencils are really sharp before you apply the water if you are going to draw into the damp colour.

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