Last year I sketched waves with charcoal and chalk. This year I want to sketch them in color. I think the watercolor pencils have a grainier quality than regular watercolors. I’ll do some comparisons with the watercolors in tubes this year. It seems like I picked a difficult subject for Plein air painting because waves never stop moving. I’ll keep working on it but there are so many great views around here and I’m not on a deadline. I’ll try out my Inktense watercolor pencils drawing other scenes before I get the hang of painting of the ocean. It’s not just painting waves, it’s also that I want to paint the bubbles on the sand and that looks even more difficult.
Yesterday we had nice weather but it was too windy to stand on the beach at the water’s edge. I sat on the leeward side of a sand dune and it was great. It took me some time to plan my sketch with pencil and pick my colors from the charts I made. Then I realized I forgot to bring a piece of soap along. If you put soap on your paintbrush before you dip it in the masking fluid it saves the brush from getting gummed up and ruined. For this experiment I used my white oil paint stick on the sky as an alternative to masking fluid and used regular masking fluid to block out the white foam on the breakers.
After I got my sketch planned and picked the colored pencils I wanted to use I came home to paint this because I had enough sun. I’d buy a beach umbrella, but those things can be a hazard. I don’t need to stay out all day painting in plein air. I can go back any time. This could take months or even years, but eventually I’ll get it.
This is my third try to represent a wave, painting at home from memory with my Inktense watercolor pencils. It’s on the back of a flop experiment. That’s why it has some smudges showing in the sky. It’s another experiment, this time trying out masking fluid applied with my fan brush to mask out the white clouds, and white oil paint stick used to mask out white foam on the wave.
I’m guessing which colors from the set of pencils to use after finally finishing with the big project of testing each color pencil by making washes from the darkest concentration of the color to the most washed out lightest version of the color. That’s why I call that that exercise a gray scale. If black is 100% and white is 0% using gray, when you do a gray scale of a color you can estimate the value of the color. Some of the colors don’t get any darker than 30%. I have 3 pencils that go to black in the set, which is good.
Now I need to go back to the beach to see if the colors I picked are close to the colors of nature, or if I can make a better color.
It’s going to get unseasonably hot out there today. I’m not sure if I’ll go to the beach today or wait till tomorrow when it might be more comfortable weather. In the summer, if I don’t get up at the crack of dawn, it’s too hot to paint in plein air in the sun. In the winter, I have to wait until afternoon when it warms up enough to go out. That way I’m not suffering for art.
The time I spent goofing around at home with these pencils is going to help my chance of success when I seriously try to do a nice finished painting. You learn a lot through play. You can take a class and a good teacher can help immensely but you still have to work on your own for a long time to get anywhere with art, at least that’s my experience.
I wish I could be an abstract expressionist. Yesterday I read a blog, Vin de Vie Wine of Life, by Sarah Abraham. about an artist Oliver Lee Jackson who’s work is hanging in the National Gallery until Sept. 15. His paintings are so beautiful. At my art school, YAA, they discouraged us from that path. We had to plan our paintings. Abstract expressionism is painting from your subconscious, if I understand it correctly, and we were expressly forbidden to do that. I distinctly remember our esteemed teacher Fitzkee saying , “Don’t clean out the cobwebs from your brain on your canvas, no one wants to see that.” I understood Fitzkee’s point of view.
But last night I just wanted to have a little fun with my Inktense pencils after working on that academic exercise for hours. The old school exercises can’t hurt if I’m trying to see the colors I can make with the pencils and learn to use them, but is scribbling blindly bad for my art?
I don’t really want the viewer to see the cobwebs or worse things in my brain. I thought abstract expressionism was for the artist to communicate their emotions to the viewer, and I’m not feeling at all emotional these days. (Thankgawd for less of that) Does this little play painting speak to you at all? Should I title it, “I Find Myself Amusing” ?
A month or so ago I bought this set of Inktense pencils on sale. There’s two trays in the box and each pencil has the color on the end. One day I was sitting on a sand dune trying to pick a color and they all fell out of the box. I tried to reorganize them but it looked like I have a lot of dark colors which are hard to tell apart from looking at the colored ends. I wondered if I had doubles of any color and how the lighter more water washed versions of these colors would look.
One reason my first attempt to use the pencils was a total flop is because I can’t pick my colors, so I knew I had to do this rather time consuming practice project. Just like back in my art school days, I started making gray scales with them starting with the dark colors.
I tried doing my gray scales on dry paper then putting water on top and also tried making the paper wet first and doing my gray scales into the wet paper. The look was the same to me.
Then I realized I have to number them or I still won’t know what pencil makes what color. If I cut up my strips of color and tape them to the pencils the lid won’t fit on the box so I just put a piece of tape over a few pencils at a time and numbered them in case they get mixed up again. I can get a few pencils off the tape and try them out in Plein air and number my combinations then put the pencil back under the tape. I also left white strips between the colors because the water really brightens up the colors which all look gray when drawing on a dry paper. That way if they get mixed up I have spaces to match colors to pencils.
So, this is my plan. Take the whole set out with my colored strips to try to match the colors I see in nature and make notes of which pencils I used to get those colors. I haven’t even done half of the set and my hand got tired of holding the pencils. I’m left handed so I switched to holding the pencils with my right hand and it worked ok for this experiment. The sooner I can get all these pencils categorized the sooner I can get back out and try my hand at painting with them.
In the long run this exercise will give me a better chance of success in my next try on painting a scene. The thing I’m really hoping for is to put them in the basket of my bike and go farther off the beaten path than I could go with my oil paint supplies which are bulkier and heavier than the set of pencils. If I can get some good color roughs with my watercolor pencils then I can do a larger oil painting at home. I want to paint that black water but I’ll never get a big canvas that far down the dirt road. I can’t drive there in my car but I can bike it.
This is an experiment with Inktense pencils.
I tried to draw an ocean wave at home with my new Inktense colors but got nowhere with that so I picked some colors and did and abstract. I like these pencils. they have strong colors. I tried drawing on dry paper then making it wet and I also tried drawing on wet paper and adding more water on top. They’re like watercolor pencils.
The real thing I’m excited about is the video I want to make this week. I’m just goofing around at home today because Virginia Beach is having a huge concert and I don’t want to go out in the heavy traffic. From what I saw on the news, the concert is a great success and there will be one every year, which is good for the city.
I hope I can do the video this week and get my daughter’s tech help to put it online real soon.
I don’t call myself a professional artist, here’s one reason why.
This painting is really a flop. Lucky for me, as an amateur, it doesn’t matter when a painting doesn’t work out. If I was a pro it would be a big embarrassing waste of time to goof around with something for hours, then I don’t like it. If I only knew what I was doing I could be good. Yeah, I could be real damn good, but I’ll have to practice because doing watercolors isn’t as easy as the pros make it look.
I’ve taken a couple watercolor classes in the past and I might do that again, but I have a feeling it takes years to master watercolor. I might buy some magazines and see if I can get tips. Or, if you have any advice, dear reader, I’d appreciate it.
I did this at home. I’ll go to Back Bay and try again in another beautiful spot.
It’s fun to try different media and techniques. This is a close up of my first attempt using Aquarelle watercolor pencils, which were recommended to me by my blogging friend, Vivienne Lingard. I’m looking for something that would be easier to transport than oil paint and the supplies I need for oils. I tried oil paint sticks and they’re bright but clunky to draw with. Pastels can be heavy to take out in Plein air, but sometimes I pick a few to take along if I can guess what colors I’ll need, so I don’t have to lug my whole box of pastels down a path. There’s also a wide variety of markers I could use in plein air. And my old favorite, charcoal and chalk.
I sketched a few Chinese Paperbush flowers from memory for my watercolor pencil experiment since I’m not finished with that painting and I want more practice drawing the flowers.
I have very little experience with watercolors, so this will take practice.
This winter weather is keeping me at home too much. I think I’ll check out the Virginia Beach Aquarium and find some bright fish to draw if they don’t object to colored pencils.