Tag Archives: Inktense pencils

Daffodil sketch / Inktense pencils

Welp, this didn’t come out as I hoped. I’m posting it anyway. I always post the good the bad and the ugly because it’s a blog. In fact the ugly stuff gets likes too, or maybe it’s my writing, I don’t know.

Why do I post the bad and ugly? That way you can see how much practice I go through to get something good. The ugly gets you one step closer to the beautiful, maybe next time. It’s a big part of art that people don’t usually see but artists know about all the failures they go through.

Art for me is divided up into a few different categories, the fun slap dash modern art attempts where I try to go with the flow and see if I get something, the time I spend experimenting, the time I spend doing sketches and planning and the time I spend trying to make a painting that I really like. All the aspects of art are important if you want to improve. Then as time goes by you get more good results but you still make a mess sometimes and you learn from the ones that don’t work.

The daffodils are starting to wilt but I’ll go back for tulips or day lilies or irises. They’re all on my list of flowers to paint.

Goldenrod / watercolor and Inktense pencils

When I started this project I wanted to paint something fast and easy. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. It turned out to be difficult and time consuming but I really wanted to finish it before I start on the next thing. Isn’t that the way it goes with art projects! The more you do the more you see needs to be done before you can call it finished. It was tempting to just quit but I wanted to see if I could fix it so that I liked it, make it bold, not wishy washy like it was at first.

It looks browner in the photos than it does in real life. If I take the pix outside in natural light the yellow looks too green in the photo but if I take the photo inside the background looks too brown and it’s really greener. I don’t know how a pro photographer would light it to get the closest colors to what I actually painted.

I think the contrast between the Inktense pencils in the background and the brush strokes of the leaves and flowers is a good contrast in textures.

And I got some sharp edges on the leaves and fuzzy edges on the flowers. so that might give the art viewer’s eye something to compare and keep their attention longer than a painting without those contrasts.

Can this painting be saved? goldenrod

watercolor and Inktense pencils

I was undecided if I should post this. On the one hand, the painting might work but on the other hand, I don’t know exactly how to proceed and it might be a huge waste of time. But if any bloggers with more water media experience want to give me a tip, it might help

I did my sketch in plein air then started blobbing in some yellow flowers without drawing them on the paper in plein air. I thought I didn’t need to draw the flowers a second time. I painted on dry watercolor paper. I drew in the stems and leaves that day with pencil but came home and put a thin layer of green down on dry paper for the leaves.

I took a few watercolor classes long ago but never mastered it. I remember a few things, like, start out light and go darker.

I wanted to paint dune grass around the goldenrod but that took some time since I went over the whole background one section at a time between the leaves. I first made the paper wet in a few areas at a time, then drew lines with the Inktense pencils to make grass. Then I rewet the grass areas to blend the Inktense lines down a little. That’s 3 times over each little area. I broke that job up over a day and took frequent breaks to do other things.

Last time I was there, a bunch of guys were fishing and people were walking past me. I was sitting on the sand next to the path. I’d like to continue working on this in plein air but it might be busy there today because the weather is so nice. I picked some goldenrod to help me visualize the next step so I can finish this at home.

On the painting above, I left some blank lighter areas in the flowers. Those spaces are going to be the shaded parts of the flowers if it works. I need to go darker there. I tried to pick some colors with my color charts when I was there, but I don’t know… And I think the leaves need to go darker. Then, last but not least, I want to go over the yellow flowers in the sun again and try to define them a little. You can see from the photo, my flowers in the painting don’t look like the ones in the glass.

Easy Does It / Inktense pencils

Easy Does It is the name of this rose.

This is the nicest weather we’ve had in months! I went to Norfolk Botanical Garden today and took my Inktense pencils, didn’t have to walk far from the car into the rose garden. It smelled so sweet! It’s partly cloudy, cool and a nice breeze. It felt good standing in the sun to draw this.

I didn’t draw it with charcoal or pencil first, just went straight in with the Inktense, which you can’t erase. That’s ok, if you go off drawing a flower no one can tell.

The roses are so bright the Inktense pencils don’t do them justice. If I decide to paint these roses I might have to buy fluorescent paint. Maybe they make acrylic that’s brighter than oils.

a view at Pleasure House Point / Inktense pencils

I was there early on 4 mornings to get this. A week or so ago for the sketch then 3 times I took my Inktense pencils. The charcoal sketch helped me decide how to draw it and it was a simple plan so I didn’t have to draw it again on the watercolor paper, I just went straight in with the Inktense pencils. It was hot and humid but I was in the shade up on the deck at the Brock Environmental Center and there was a little breeze. By 10 it was too hot to enjoy being outside.

One thing I like about the Inktense pencils is that they’re a little grainy. I draw on the dry paper then paint water on top of the Inktense and it blends out like watercolor but some of my lines don’t blend out which gives it a texture. Then I also draw with the Inktense on wet paper and that makes a darker line.

You can see a little oopsie in this close up. At the water’s edge on the sedge on the left a little blip happened. I tried to lift it but some stayed. That’s ok. Things like that show the art viewer this is done by hand. You’d never see a blip like that in a photo.

This close up lets you see my scribbles making different textures. Even the sand has texture. First I painted it solid light burnt umber but when I compared my painting to the sand I noticed the sand is soft and full of footprints which give it texture so I wanted to draw the footprints. That’s the gray circles in the sand. Am I nuts to draw the footprints? It didn’t take too long to do it.

Every day when I was there the sky was clear and hazy with only the occasional cloud. I thought it would be impossible to paint the sky hazy with the Inktense so I waited for clouds. When I got home clouds were in the sky so eventually I did the sky at home, last. It was the hardest part of the painting because I faked it. I ripped up a paper towel and tried to arrange it on the paper to decide where to put the clouds. Then I went around the paper towel clouds with blue to save white areas. I tried to smear some of the edges of the clouds and have some edges showing as more defined, then added some gray.

You can see another oopsie in the blue sky where it didn’t blend evenly. Maybe I should have worked faster. If I didn’t tell you where the mistakes are would you have noticed? It isn’t as easy to correct a mistake with watercolor media as it is to fix something with oil paint.

recent sketches


I didn’t sketch this with charcoal first, I just went straight in with my Inktense pencils on watercolor paper. I was standing so close to the flowers I could hold my sketchbook right next to them and my lines weren’t too far off from the sizes and shapes of the petals.

Inktense pencils remind me of those watercolor coloring books for kids where they have printed dots of color on the paper and the kid only has to make it wet and the color pops out, but before you add water the color doesn’t show. Do you remember those old coloring books?

I sketched on dry paper and added the water when I got home. The bottom of the flowers here show the Inktense pencils with water and the top flowers are before the water is added. It’s fun when you make it wet and the color pops out.

The pencils have a colored end to show you what color you have but the colors on the pencils don’t match the colors you get, so I had to make charts and number the pencils. I did washes of each color from the darkest the pencil will make to the lightest tint you can get. Now when I go out to sketch I can take my color charts and pick the colors I’ll need and easily find them in the box instead of pulling out all the possible reds and greens and testing each color.

When I take a pencil out of the box and use it for the first time I put a piece of tape around the top of the pencil and number it to match its slot in the box.

Once I took them out on the beach and sat on the side of a sand dune to sketch and the box slid down the dune and the pencils fell out so I put tape on them and numbered the tape too, to keep a group or 10 or so together. Now when I need say, # 10, I can pick up that second clump of pencils and get #10 easily without them all falling out. The trays are kind of flimsy and the lid isn’t real tight either, but if I can decide on my colors from the charts I don’t have to take the whole set of pencils out on the dune with me.

Irises, charcoal

It’s too late for this particular clump of flowers. They’re almost done blooming. Next year I’ll plan in advance so I can do a painting of Irises

I can never get too much practice drawing from life. They say if you keep at it over the course of years you get a better eye for angles, curves, size etc. Supposedly, drawing from life makes you more observant. I guess it helps your eye hand coordination. Flowers are great subjects for practice. If you draw it wrong it’s not noticeable.

When I’m undecided on what to paint next I have to keep sketching until I make a good plan. I scouted a pretty canoe launch this morning but didn’t sketch. Tomorrow I want to scout another boat launch, see if I can find a pretty spot by the water.

rhododendron sketch and azalea painting update

I’m waiting for my paint to dry on the azalea painting before I can finish it with the last color, pink. If I put the pink on before the other paint is dry, it might lift some white or gray and that would make the pink less bright. A couple weeks ago I bought a tube of fast drying white at Jerry’s Artarama because I knew Titanium white dries slowly. When I opened the tube it was dry in the tube! And I didn’t save the receipt. bummer.

While I wait for the paint to dry on the azaleas I decided to sketch the rhododendrons which are starting to bloom. This is Inktense pencils.

There’s a real pretty path through the rhododendrons. It’s covered with moss and has a bench and spotty sunlight. I’d like to do a painting of the path but that might be a project for next year because it could be complicated and I need to figure out a good plan for it and do sketches first.

After I did the underpainting and waited for that to dry I went over this a couple more times, background, leaves, stems, and flowers. The gray is the shadows on the azaleas. At first I had a warm gray for shadows but after looking at it for a couple days I decided to make the shadows slightly darker and cool, so I put a cool gray glaze over the warm gray. It looks like neutral gray in this photo. I’m not sure if you can see the layers of paint but you can see some veins in the paint which I like making. It gives the painting more variety of brush strokes and direction in the petals.

This azalea is past blooming but I have my sketches to go by and I’m pretty sure I can finish it at home. I think it will work out with the pink looking as bright as possible. I did some color roughs. I might do another one. I’ll continue with glazing pinks next. Then it will be finished.

I wasn’t going to show it at this stage because it’s almost done, but I thought if I just post a close up of this one section it won’t spoil the surprise.

panoramic dune paintings with close ups







Finally finished! time to celebrate!


This is a close up of the small piece of ocean you can see from there. I always see a texture on the ocean. This could be white caps or sparkles. I’ll let the viewer decide if it looks like either one of those. Maybe from far away. Also, you can see the texture of the grass I made with the Inktense pencils.


This is the leaf texture I made with masking fluid to save the lighter leaf colors and use a dark green to darken the shadows. The grass texture in the shade was made with my modified fan brush and masking fluid.

I enjoy making textures. Masking fluid is a great product for that.

Some things I can use from my old school training are how to make a feeling of light by working on my shadows. If you use the full range of values from black to white and put the darkest shadows in under some lighter contrasting shapes, leaves, the viewer gets the feeling of sunlight, and depth. Could you walk in there and get out of the sun? Maybe, but you’ll need bug spray.


This shows a sand slide. The smoother sand is the part that slid down and the top inch or two of the rougher sand is the part of the dune where it broke. I hope you can see what I mean.

I like the way that the dunes mimic the ocean with their wavy shapes and their rising and falling with peaks and breakers, if you can imagine it.

dune painting and wildlife report from VA Beach


When I was driving down the Sandbridge Rd. this morning a deer crossed the road in front of my car. I saw it from far away, a doe, as it walked across the ditch. It didn’t jump, just walked. Then as I was driving down the Back Bay rd. a big sand crab crossed the road.

A couple days ago I had to come to a stop on that road for a big turtle.

One day last week I was walking down the gravel road to my overlook and I saw something brown in the grass next to the road, not moving, and I wondered what it was. It was a big rabbit and not your ordinary wild rabbit but one with real pretty tortoise shell  colored  fur. As I got closer it didn’t move but kept on eating the grass. I walked by it only 3′ away and it didn’t run.

There is a bumper crop of dragon flies down there and one flew right into my neck! You can see hundreds of them buzzing all around this scene.

It was hot when I got there at 7:30 but there was a nice breeze which made it more tolerable. Now it’s hot as hell out there.

I’m almost finished with my dune painting triptych. This is the center section, finished.

Dunes Sea and Sky / try try again


Yesterday I slept too late for the best light. It was 9 when I got to the overlook. I decided not to take all my plein air supplies with me because I knew it would be crowded. I only took my color rough from the day before,  my color charts and a pencil to make notes.

When I compared my rough to nature the first thing I noticed is that there’s not enough greenery. Otherwise, not too bad, I thought. So I decided to do another  color sketch. Also, the ocean wasn’t sparkly at 9 like it is at 8 so that solves the problem of painting the sparkles. That wasn’t working out in my trials and I decided to forget about it until some time in the future. I might have to use oils to paint the sparkly water.

I came to another important decision. I decided to paint the panoramic scene at home. I might mess up the paper outside and can’t fix it with watercolors like I can fix a mistake  with oil paint.  There’s less chance of the paper picking up a smudge in the wrong place if I paint it at home as opposed to lugging all my stuff out there in my beach cart. After I get more experience with watercolors I’ll know exactly what I need to take along to paint in plein air and it will be a lighter load than taking oil paints.

If I do another rough sketch of a different area of the panorama and it looks ok compared to nature I’ll feel like I can paint it at home with more confidence. Just one more rough. I think I almost have it all worked out. I want to try to paint the thicker foliage first. This is a challenge and I want it to come out right. That’s why I’m doing so much preliminary work, the sketches, the color roughs, taking my time when making the decisions, etc.

It’s nice to have the luxury of taking my time when doing something difficult, and it’s nice to go there and walk even if I’m not working on an art project.