The Art of Drawing with Watercolour Pencil

By GARTH and JEANETTE SATTERTHWAITE



I have always admired the skill of fellow watercolour artists to express their magic with the sweep of a brush. However for me, I realised I could probably not reach a standard I would be happy with. Instead, being an experienced drawer and familiar with coloured pencil, I have been able to achieve quality results with watercolour as my background and dry watercolour pencil on top. This technique makes my subjects look more realistic, show their beauty, character and true colours.

Coloured pencil was originally called crayon and was used by Pablo Picasso and other famous artists. It is a very versatile medium. For watercolour artists, watercolour pencil can be used over dry watercolour when correcting, emphasising or improving an area. One watercolour pencil stick is equivalent to one pan of watercolour paint and the lead is the same quality as best quality watercolour paint.

My first task was to create colour charts of my range of pencils. These allow me to match colours to subject correctly whether it has 10, 20 or 120 colours. The more colours you match and blend the
better. I have seven charts of colour cards, 320mm x 165mm, on 300gsm watercolour paper. There are 14 shades of colour on each, represented by lines and a patch of solid colour, named in pencil. The colours provided in printed brochures are not very accurate. It is essential to buy professional quality watercolour coloured pencils.

I have always admired the skill of fellow watercolour artists to express their magic with the sweep of a brush. However for me, I realised I could probably not reach a standard I would be happy with. Instead, being an experienced drawer and familiar with coloured pencil, I have been able to achieve quality results with watercolour as my background and dry watercolour pencil on top. This technique makes my subjects look more realistic, show their beauty, character and true colours.

Coloured pencil was originally called crayon and was used by Pablo Picasso and other famous artists. It is a very versatile medium. For watercolour artists, watercolour pencil can be used over dry watercolour when correcting, emphasising or improving an area. One watercolour pencil stick is equivalent to one pan of watercolour paint and the lead is the same quality as best quality watercolour paint.

My first task was to create colour charts of my range of pencils. These allow me to match colours to subject correctly whether it has 10, 20 or 120 colours. The more colours you match and blend the better. I have seven charts of colour cards, 320mm x 165mm, on 300gsm watercolour paper. There are 14 shades of colour on each, represented by lines and a patch of solid colour, named in pencil. The colours provided in printed brochures are not very accurate. It is essential to buy professional quality watercolour coloured pencils.

Use your colour charts as the photo colour is not always correct. Print your selected photo to the size of the final portrait. With an HB pencil, draw up the animal on tracing paper and transfer lightly on to watercolour paper. You can use a lightbox, artist transfer paper or tone the reverse of your tracing and then draw on to the paper.

Graphite pencil lines will merge with coloured pencil. Look at your photo print or a computer image of the animal and check that details are correct. A magnifying glass can be very handy. Select your coloured pencils. Choose a suitable soft watercolour wash for the background colour which matches the overall tone of the animal and allows you to work on top with all light and dark shades of pencil. Begin with the light shades. Do not rub backwards and forwards as one does for the popular colouring-in books. Press lightly with soft strokes in one direction. Practice beforehand to develop a comfortable technique.

Begin with the head and start with the eyes as they show the soul of the animal and you will see many subtle colours. Use your colour cards to match. The eyes should look moist and alive. For dogs, provide a medium black background wash for the nose and lips then work with grey and black pencils. Match the colours of the tongue, if required.

Cats have different colours for the nose. Do highlights with a white oil-based pencil last. Finish the head area first before the rest of the body. When you have completed your animal, finalise the background with watercolour using your imagination.

In Wellington I use both Gordon Harris and the French Art Shop. Gordon Harris stocks: Faber-Castell Albrecht Dürer watercolour pencils, individually or as sets. Faber-Castell pencil sharpeners. Quality hot-press watercolour papers - Arches, Fabriano, Hahnemühle and Saunders. Erasers by Faber Castell and Cretacolor. Staedtler erasing shield. White oil-based Chinagraph pencil - Staedtler Lumocolor permanent pencil.

The French Art Shop stocks: Derwent watercolour pencils, individually or as sets. Derwent pencil sharpener. Quality hot-press watercolour papers - Arches, Fabriano, Saunders plus Sennelier and Stonehenge. Milan Tecnik 920 eraser. Staedtler erasing shield. Derwent Studio oil-based Chinese white.

It pays to study the painting and drawing of great animal and bird artists. I appreciate the New Zealand artists, Ray Harris-Ching for his drawing skills, vision and the beauty of his paintings, Paul Martinson and Niels Meyer-Westfeld for their imagination, realistic studies of birds and they too, use coloured pencil. I hope I have encouraged you to try this enjoyable medium and it should add another tool to any watercolour knowledge. I know some watercolour artists have a furry friend nearby, maybe they should look at them more closely?



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