Some Dog Sketches on Canson 180

October 23, 2019
Here I also tested the use of Nichiban Artist’s Masking Tape—clean removal! That’s lavender gouache in the background on the right. I wanted to cover the previously laid in watercolor wash when it had dried.




What better way to test a paper than with some dog sketches on Canson 180?

In the sketches today I used a Sailor Fude Fountain pen (containing Platinum Carbon Black ink) and watercolor to make quick sketches from dogs on the Sktchy App. 

Detail of the little white dog. I added a small amount of white gouache to the eyes. Very light tints of watercolor on the white fur help suggest shadow on this white dog. 

The scans show paper buckling caused by the wet media on the lightweight paper. However, the experience of sketching and painting on this paper is totally enjoyable.

Why? Because the paper is hardy enough to accept the wet media. You just need to control your water (don’t soak the paper by putting puddles of water on it) and not be aggressive with your strokes. The paper will start to pill and fall apart if you rub it aggressively when it’s wet or damp.

Another dog portrait sketched with a Sailor Fude Fountain Pen and watercolor. Here there is no need for white gouache as the whole head is reserved as “white.” The highlights in the nose and eyes are achieved by using a light first wash of color, letting it dry, and putting in a darker tone of color

If your paint is completely dry you might be able to do a little lifting of color, but I wouldn’t count on it. Just let things happen and enjoy them. 

Because this paper is smooth it’s very easy to do detail ink work on it. That smoothness also gives interesting puddling textures to your washes. If you take more care you can add some controlled glazes—but I like to work quickly on paper like this.

Take Action

It’s time to get out some of those sketchbooks languishing on your shelves—purchased once on a whim, or given to you by someone not sure what you would do with it.

Start experimenting in all the different media that you use. 

First just scribble on some pages and test the amount of water you need to activate water-soluble media. Make some notes. Look at the back of the pages and see what happened. Make some water adjustments.

Make more notes

Now start a new page and sketch a friend, your dog (fortunate person to have a life model at home), the large pumpkin you got at the grocery store because you thought the warts would be fun to sketch.

Use some masking tape to test the paper. (Pull it up carefully. I show you how in my video in this post: Making a Color Chart to Test… 

If you’re worried about media bleeding through and ruining the next page, skip a page spread between each worked page spread.  Also photograph or scan (depending on your access to equipment as you work) your finished spread before you move to another. This way you’ll have a clean record of what happened on a page spread before later work can disturb it in any way.

Keep Going

After a couple days of testing you’ll know what the paper can do. Now it’s time to take that sketchbook out on the road—the zoo, a museum, the grocery store parking lot, a large public square, wherever.

Take only a FEW items. Take the art materials you had the MOST fun working with on the paper you were testing. Maybe that’s simply a graphite pencil? Maybe it’s a pen and a small palette of watercolors and a water brush. Perhaps you loved bold oil pastels or crayons for sketching on this paper. Just take one medium and the related tools. Spend a day with them as you move about.

Why Experiment with “Unsuitable” Papers?

Experimentation is fun. And you’ll be freeing up those shelves for more sketchbooks—ones that are the same because you loved the tests so much, or different ones which allow you different media freedoms.

Remember, this type of practice with intention, where you are keeping track of what you are doing and how you are doing it, is the best type of practice.

Sometimes it leads to a new style.

It always leads to fun.

Sounds like a Project Friday…

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