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Messing around with Watersoluble Colored Pencil (and No Water!)

July 17, 2009

090714ABellGodwit

Above: Sketch of a Hudsonian Godwit, made while viewing a taxidermy specimen at the Bell Museum of Natural History at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis Campus. Burnt Umber Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Aquarelle Colored Pencil (dry, i.e., not dissolved with water), in a 5.5 x 6 inch journal I made with Lana Aquarelle 140 lb. Hot Press Watercolor Paper.

I've been fussing around with the new little journal which has Lana Aquarelle 140 lb. Hot Press watercolor paper in it. I am remembering daily what I don't like about this paper (see comments from yesterday's post about a cityscape on this paper). I am also remembering that I do like to work on watercolor paper. (I love the smell of the sizing—on most watercolor papers; I love the way I don't have to work hard with the washes.)

Tuesday a friend was going over to the Bell and I met her there for some sketching. My day was filled with errands and meetings, so what better way to take a mid-day break than to sketch from taxidermy—models who will stay motionless.

It was great fun. Liz and I laughed quit a lot about the hot, sweat-inducing conditions (the Bell is an older building and it doesn't have air conditioning; in the summer it tends to collect heat—and yesterday there were no fans in evidence), which frankly, well I've been sketching in actual swamps that were cooler! Also at one point I did lose all feeling in my butt, from sitting on the floor motionless too long (a couple of nearby children thought it was funny that I was running in place in front of a prairie bird display—I live to serve). It was so hot the idea of standing and walking even 4 feet seemed oppressive. Liz and I actually joked about rolling along on the floor to the sides of the displays to read the signage—well it was funny in context when you want to know bird facts about the bird you just drew and you've lost mobility in your legs because your butt is numb. You know sketching is hard work folks and you have to train for it every day!

Before I did the above sketch I completed a couple sketches of other birds using a B-lead graphite pencil (not soft enough to give me much of a line on this paper) and promptly pushed them too far with watercolor (I found myself getting really fussy, always dangerous, but especially so when you have a large, tip-worn Niji in your hand!). My eye still misses the pen strokes and dark contrast the ink provides too much to enjoy the pencil and watercolor of this morning.

I followed with a watersoluble colored pencil sketch, and did apply water to the pencil shading around the bird, joking with Liz that I was going ahead and ruining it now. (It's always good to give your fellow sketch artists up to the minute news flashes on your progress in case they wander [or roll] over and get a shocking surprise.)

My point in telling you all this is that it's a good thing to set a goal, i.e., use pencil and watercolor all morning if it kills you—or at least for more than one sketch—really give it a go. But then it is also good to end on a positive note, so after 90 minutes of sketching and pushing, when I got this pleasing (if oddly proportioned—that breast could feed a family of 5) sketch (the Godwit, above) I decided to not add water. Remember, just because the Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Aquarelles are aquarelles doesn't mean you have to "activate" them.

This Godwit is a bird I have sketched numerous times from other angles, and similar angles. I have painted this bird (twice in my Bird-a-Day painting series), and even use it as my avatar. It's a comfort bird. There is something lovely about its size and shape.

A good place to stop sketching. But there was more. Liz mentioned the Stabilo All, which is a waxy watersoluble pencil supposedly good for working on paper, glass, plastic, and metal. I had some of those at home and her comment got me to thinking about how that pencil might work on this paper. But that's a story for another day…

Get up and walk around for five minutes and keep that blood moving!

    • Wendi
    • July 17, 2009
    Reply

    I love all the white space. This is a beautiful sketch! It is a very elegant and quiet page spread. Nicely done!

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