UPDATE 11.28.13: Reader Joel wrote in to to ask if I meant Caran d'Ache Museum Aquarelle Watercolor Pencils not Cretacolor. He was right to ask. I did mean Caran d'Ache. I appologize for the confusion. I rarely use either brand and didn't get up from the computer to go and read the pencil barrel! I take pains to use accurate names so readers can find materials and this makes me feel pretty silly. I've corrected the post mentions of the name and am very grateful to Joel for pointing out this error!
Update 11.09.13: Well I should have gone with my gut. I almost wrote Rat Terrier when writing this post, but went with Jack Russell instead because I don't really follow the ins and outs of terriers. But I learned that Maxwell is in fact a Rat Terrier. I can't correct the error in the title of this post because that will mess up all the links, but now you know. I''ve corrected the post, and I'm still mighty proud I tired the little guy out.
I did it, I tired a Rat Terrier out! There's the evidence in the above photo. I sort of tired myself out too—with the long walks—but there you have it.
Last weekend, while Maxwell's family went off to see the Bird Art Exhibit in Wisconsin Maxwell came to stay with us. It was fun to have dog energy in the house again.
Left: I warmed up with this sketch (a red, blue and yellow watercolor pencil used dry, on 90 lb. Hot Press Studio Fabriano watercolor paper). I'm looking for dimensions and shape here. And he wasn't sitting still for long at all. Part of his head is leaning against a blanket and obscured.
I had hoped to sketch him all weekend long, but except for an intensive session after his Friday arrival I only did some very brief sketching. My arm wasn't up to prolonged sketching.
Besides the goal of sketching for hours all weekend I had hoped to test two papers. That second goal I did meet.
One paper is new to me: Studio Watercolor Paper from Fabriano. It's a 90 lb. paper that I purchased in a 9 x 12 inch pad, in the hot press version. It's 25 percent cotton and acid free. It has a fantastic plate surface and the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen glides across this paper. There's enough tooth on the paper to use colored pencil, but I think if you want to work in pen and ink on an inexpensive sheet that's responsive check it out.
The other paper I tried was a 9 x 12 inch pad of Canson's Montval Watercolor paper. It's 140 lb. and cold press. I hadn't used it in a couple years. Since I've been using some student grade papers for studies I thought I would try this again. They rate the paper as artist grade. The finish and texture seem too mechanical for that rating when compared with the other watercolor papers I use in sheets for binding books. But it compares well with the student grade watercolor paper from Strathmore I tested earlier this fall.
Left: Working with the same colored pencils, which were Caran d'Ache Museum Aquarelle Watercolor Pencils, I did this sketch on a 9 x 12 inch sheet of Canson Montval, 140 lb. CP watercolor paper. I drew with the blue pencil (which is PB60 according to the company's paperwork) and then wet the lines to dissolve them, adding extra color by picking up color on my brush directly from the lead or by dragging the pencil across wet paper. (Maxwell has a benign skintag on his forehead.)
Left: Another Caran d'Ache Museum Aquarelle Watercolor Pencils sketch on the Montval paper. Maxwell didn't stay still long enough for me to finish.
While I enjoyed working with the Caran d'Ache Museum Aquarelle Pencils I think I'm pretty much over using watersoluble colored pencils for anything but studies.
At one time I used watersoluble colored pencils to create sketches of a more finished type as seen in this sketch of a peregrine falcon. (I even created illustrations with the same level of finish throughout that the eye in that sample has.) But I've been so disappointed in most watersoluble colored pencils (which often turn out to be dye based and fugitive) that I've found I'm much more interested in simply using my watercolors. Also my pan watercolors are easier to go out and sketch with because I don't have to worry about dropping them. If I drop a pencil the lead is broken. I've dropped my palette several times and the worst that has happened is a couple pans (the whole pan, not just the cake of paint) popped out of the box. I just popped them back in no worse for the experience).
We all develop preferences over our lifetimes. My preference for sketching materials has definitely shifted from working with colored pencils (of any type) to working almost always with watercolor. I do find that I still enjoy using watersoluble colored pencils and other watersoluble dry media for quick studies and when I got to life drawing. (I only purchased five of the Caran d'Ache Museum Aquarelle Pencils; my favorite watersoluble colored pencil is Faber-Castell's Albrecht Dürer. I'll continue to use them.)
If you still enjoy working with watersoluble colored pencils you might want to seek out Caran d'Ache Museum Aquarelle Pencils. The leads contain pigment and the lines do wash out nicely when activated with water. After they dry they stay put a bit more than other watersoluble colored pencils I've used do, so you might find it easier to layer your colors with this brand. I just find them, like all other watersoluble colored pencils, "wimpy" when compared with my watercolor paints.
These pencils worked great on both the papers I was testing and I'm sure I'll use the five pencils I purchased for sketching in life drawing, on these same sheets of paper. In the meanwhile I'll do some more testing on the papers using watercolors and gouache.
I mention goals in this post and the fact that one of mine didn't get met this weekend, as encouragement to you. Make wildly over ambitious goals you have no hope of meeting (though I hope, not because of injury). Then work on having the agility to adjust your goals on the fly to focus on what can be accomplished. I might have wished for more sketches (I think there are only 15 pages for 2 days; I didn't sketch at all on the third day), but tiring out a Rat Terrier is quite an accomplishment.