Pencil and Gouache Not Working on All the Papers I Like

May 3, 2012

GusPencil4280Left: Pencil sketch (low light photo) using 2B pencil in a Fabriano Venezia Journal.  

Let's start with the pencil sketch. First you know I've been working on Nideggen paper with pencil and then smearing and painting on gouache while doing the "fantasy people" I've been posting lately. Well I love working in Fabriano Venezia journals for my in-studio journals (I use the 9 x 12 inch size which is too large for me to carry around, hence the "in-studio" application) so I decided to try out my experiment on this paper as well.

You may also remember that I'm a huge fan of working in pen on the paper in these journals, and then smearing paint around. (Remember the spatter dog series?)

This paper really takes a lot of beating, but I don't typically use pencil on it. What I found is that when I went to push the paint around with a paper towel the pencil moved all over the place too. The paper just didn't hold the graphite.

So while I started with a pretty loose sketch that I had intended to "correct" in the gouache phase anyway, I ended up with a lot of graphite smeared everywhere and no real visible image. So it was as if I started over from scratch. 

129412halffaceLeft: Here's the "finished" experiment and if you click on the image to enlarge it you will see how the first wash of paint on the right side of the face (our right side) pretty much washed all the graphite away—and it didn't help that I was pushing the paint around then with a paper towel and further disturbing the graphite, see neck area.

In the second image in this post you can see how the graphite got pushed and washed away on the whole face, because I left half of the face unfinished. On the other side of the image you can see how I kept going in with some layers of gouache and built up the drawing again, with the paint. Since I couldn't see much of the drawing any longer I had to essentially redraw things with my brush, but that's OK because that's fun—just not what I was hoping to do.

129412halffaceDetailRight: Here's a detail portion of the "finished" side so you can see some of the layers of gouache more clearly.

So the end result of this experiment was that I finished my lunch and later that evening when I wanted to do more pencil and gouache studies and experiments I got out my regular journal which I'd made with the Nideggen paper.

I was working with some paints I'd put out for another project and didn't want to put out more paint at lunch, so I was working without my PB60 which I use to make my darkest darks most of the time. I used instead a bit of Lukas Cobalt blue which is an inexpensive paint that I typically don't use.

I don't recommend Lukas Gouache at all, even for studies. I used to, and it's one of the better low-grade gouache paints, but I've pulled the plug on it. I'm down to the last little bit in a bunch of tubes and just tossed the rest of it. It smells a bit chemical-ly; it's imitation cobalt in this instance so there's a mix of pigments which are muddying up my color blends. All in all it's just not a satisfactory paint for most of what I want to do and not useful for studies (since I won't be using the paint to create "those" qualities in a final painting).

The problem with being an experimenter is that you end up buying a lot of supplies to test and sometimes they don't "lead" anywhere. The great thing about being an experimenter is that when you use a product you really don't care for it makes the return to the product you love all the sweeter. 

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