Category Archives: watercolor pencils

preparing for a travel sketchwalk

I am preparing for my local Travel Sketching ‘walk and talk’ that are on this Friday and Saturday. Both sessions (1pm -3.30pm ) of 15 people are fully booked out and there is a waiting list ! The wonderful Melbourne Library Service have promoted the sessions widely and there has been a lot of interest to run repeat sessions. 

Yesterday I spent time walking the route and stopping at my planned locations.We are only walking a few blocks and there is so much potential to draw. The idea of the day is to inspire people and  to open their eyes to the possibilities and concept of travel sketching (not to try to teach them to draw in two hours) .

 

We start in the Library, where I will talk a little about travel sketching, my own approach and what we will be doing. Melbourne Library Service is supplying watercolour pencils, waterbrush and paper for the day.

There are three stops along the way once we leave the Library, each with so many potential things to draw – up close or vistas. We will stop for about 20 minutes at each .  I walked the walk yesterday doing my own sketches which I can show as examples on the day.

These are very quick sketches, as sometimes when you travel you do not get the opportunity to sit down and sketch for a long time.  I also don’t want people to stress about the drawing and getting caught in the details. 

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Stop 2

Stop 3.

After the final stop, the plan is to retrace our route back to the Library, giving people the chance to spend more time on a previous sketch or do some more. 

When we arrive back at the Library, afternoon tea awaits and also time to talk about the day and share experiences and sketches if people are comfortable with that. I also have some examples of published travel sketchbooks from my own collection for anyone to browse through to inspire  them to continue. Ad there is my own Travel Sketchbook display on in the Library. 

It will all be very flexible on the day. This is the first group talk I have given and it will be a positive learning experience for everyone. 

My only concern is the weather. It is Melbourne in winter. This week has been 14 degrees and sunny blue skies. Fingers crossed that this continues. The wet weather alternatives are not exciting. However that is all part of travel sketching. Sometime weather changes your plans and you have to make do with alternatives.  

Easter weekend in Sydney

Last weekend I visited Sydney. It was my second visit since I moved to Melbourne two and a half years ago. I had lived in Sydney for ten years and made many good friends there, especially in the sketching world. 

I planned my visit to spend some quality time with friends, and I did, I had some lovely conversations and sketching time. It was definitely a sketching holiday and so relaxing. I filled twenty five pages of my Moleskine watercolour sketchbook (13 x 19) over the four day break.

I’ve included a few on this blog. If you would like to see them all they are on my flickr site from 13 to 17 April 2017.

I started sketching as soon as I left work on Thursday and was officially ‘on holidays’ – on the bus to the airport, at the airport. I sketched the view from where I stayed each night, food I ate and scenes along the way.  Some sketches are in ink and some in watercolour pencil and some a combination of both . Sometimes I can visualise what I would like a sketch to look like on the page, and I “know” (inside) that it will work in pen rather than watercolour pencil. On another day or another time I may have chosen different material. 

I am usually very happy with what i put on the page. Every now and then I am exceptionally pleased. I felt that this sketch of the cruise ship in Sydney Harbour really came together when I added the figures, The Sydney Opera House is in the background and it is a temptation to make it the focus.  However it did not fit on the page, so my decision was made.

I like to combine a feature of a building and the larger building to give it some context. This is beautiful The Russell Hotel  where I stayed on Thursday night.  I could spend some time on the interior, as I was leisurely eating my breakfast, and not meeting Chris and Liz til 10 am.  I tried not to get caught up in the detail of the staircase, The exterior sketch was done quickly, as once again I did not want to get caught up in the detail. I have been trying to figure out which room I was in and where I sketched from the Sitting Room Balcony, but it is a confusing building inside, with little staircases and rooms everywhere. 

Catching the ferry to Manly from Circular Quay. I sat on the top deck at the back. I watched as the city disappeared into the distance. This couple sat for a short amount of time on the bench in front of me. I got the lines of their heads and his arm down very quickly on the page, and was really pleased with the flow of the lines and getting their position down on the page. I can look at this and feel where his weight is and how she turns her head,. I ,quickly added some colour with my watercolour pencils, which was just as well, as they moved. I decided not to add the colour of the sky and water. 

Classic Manly on Easter Sunday. The Manly ferry , the coastal pine trees and Easter Eggs.

I sketched with about 12 few of Erin’s sketchers at Manly. I had met two when I was in Sydney, and had a lovely time chatting and sketching with them all. 

and home again. 

At the airport I decided   – no more sketching – (I did have a book to read) UNLESS I sat behind someone with fantastic hair, There was no one on the plane – but on the bus, there was a young girl with wonderfully braided hair AND bunny ears. How could I resist???? I’ve never drawn braids before and it was a  challenge ! It keep me very busy on the way into Melbourne city. Once I figured out the pattern, I could continue it while I waited for another bus.

I hope you have enjoyed my holiday. 

Please let me know if you have any questions about my sketching, using watercolour pencils, or my sketchbook journalling. I love to share my passion/obsession with sketching and the joys of watercolour pencils. 

 

New Greeting cards

I am very excited that I have SIX new greeting cards available for purchase. They are printed from my watercolour pencil drawings.

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There are TWO new Christmas cards to join the four that I already have . These two Christmas images were drawn in the last two month, specifically for these Christmas cards. They were drawn on A4 watercolour paper . I tried to think of colourful Christmas themes that fit within my drawing style. I love to draw food and smaller objects. These two were great fun.

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fungi – drawn from fungi on small branches collected in Toowoomba

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Squirrel – Drawn from one of many photographs I took of squirrels in Kensington Gardens in London.

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Drawn from old keys that I have collected over the years,

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Old Law books on the shelves at work.

I have been working on this project for about two months. Four of the drawings are from my  sketchbooks over the last few years. It took a long time to decide which drawings would look good on cards and appeal to other people. Just because a drawing looks good, doesn’t mean that it will make a good card.

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The excitement of taking delivery and unpacking my new cards

Once again, my local printers Print Together, have reproduced the subtle colours and lines of watercolour pencils. The cards were delivered last Wednesday and I have spent the last few days, putting envelopes inside them and sealing each one in a cellobag. Yesterday I started to take photographs of the cards to put up on my Etsy online store. It was a lovely sunny day, so I went to the park.

They are now available for purchase from my Etsy online store for $AUD 5.50.

new and old pencils

I have finally finished scanning and uploading my three sketchbooks from my three week UK holiday .

Now I can reflect a little of the practical side of my UK sketching . There are two parts to this post: a few new colours I used in England and the discovery of a new pencil colour.

PART ONE – NEW COLOURS FOR ENGLAND

I was aware about the need potentially alter the colours I use in different country. When I moved from Sydney to Melbourne I had to buy new pencils for the colours of Melbourne buildings and wrote a blog post) . Getting the colour right is important to me. There had been a discussion leading up to the Urban Sketchers Manchester Symposium on their facebook group about watercolours people could use. People discussed the different greens for English trees and also the reds for Manchester buildings. In an example of the generous sharing nature of the group, Linda Toolsema kindly tested a whole range of watercolours and translated them to the equivalent watercolour pencils to assist me. It was invaluable and I was able to choose some extra colours to take with me.

I use FaberCastell Albretch Durer Watercolour pencils

NEW COLOURS                                           USUAL COLOURS

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Midland Hotel, Manchester, with its red brick and terracotta

PART TWO – NEW PENCIL COLOURS

I use Payne’s Grey a fair bit.  I know that French Ultramarine & Burnt Umber combined make a great shadow, but often for the way I draw, just the one colour is useful  – and Payne’s Grey is it !

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My Payne’s Grey pencil got smaller and smaller and then I lost my spare. I could not find an art shop in Manchester or York that sold single Faber Castell watercolour pencils. It was not until my final week in London that I could buy one. I used this tiny pencil until the last moment when I bought the new one.

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In London at the amazing art shop L Cornelissen & Son   (above) I finally found my Paynes Grey and proudly showed the assistants my tiny pencil.

Cornelissen & Son was established in 1855 and has been trading in London as artists’ colourmen since then. Cornelissen is known throughout the world as a specialist niche supplier of art materials from premises that a 19th Century apothecary would recognize.

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However, along the way I found a shop that had another lovely FaberCastell watercolour pencil Dark Sepia, which does not replace Payne’s Grey, but I immediately fell in love with. It has a lovely warmth that is great for buildings.

I am not experimental in my everyday art materials and sketchbooks. I enjoy using my watercolour pencils in my Moleskine Watercolour sketchbook. I am still learning about them and enjoying the pleasure of drawing.

 

 

 

my UK holiday sketching journey begins

I am not sure where to begin sharing my sketches and stories from my recent three week holiday to England from Australia, which included the Manchester Urban Sketching Symposium, a week in Manchester, York and London. I have so many wonderful memories associated with each sketch.

I have started scanning the first of three sketchbooks.

My sketching for holidays always begins months in advance. I like the excitement of the countdown to a holiday, the research it involves  and the little things that need to be purchased that let you now you are going on a holiday . I have already written about these:

and that is before the plane leaves the ground !

When I leave, I already have in mind some the opportunities I may have and the scenes I may draw although I do not know what some specifically look like. These are fairly controlled situations and usually involve a lot of waiting time.

  • on the bus to the airport
  • at the airport
  • on the plane
  • my hotel – the exterior and the room, breakfast if it is included

These are the sketches I that I am including today. They are only a selection.  I am adding them all to flickr albums .

Each sketch is a specific memory of time and place, although some are contain generic shapes and objects (airplanes ). The more I draw these the better I get and the more comfortable I am with the process and limitations of time/space/equipment.

23Jul2016 to the airport

On the Skybus on the way to Melbourne airport.

It is a 20 minute bus journey to Melbourne airport . From previous experience, I know that I will have a view of the luggage racks or the back of someone’s head in front of me.

23Jul2016 at the airport

Melbourne airport . our plane !

At the airport there are always lots of planes to draw. It is great if I can draw the plan I am flying in (as in this case), but any plane will do. They involve lots of strange shapes (at the nose of the plane) and inconceivable foreshortening for the rest of it (lots of measuring and comparing size and angles). I usually end up with the wing going off the page . I wrote the notes on the page later to try and remember the process of customs and immigration and what we had to do when.

23Jul2016 on the plane Melb to Abu Dhabi23Jul2016 on the plane Melb to Abu Dhabi 2

 

 

 

 

 

22 hours of flight provides lots of drawing time – the people, their shoes, the food and more. How often are you given time like this ! I can easily spend the time trying different techniques. However I am also distracted by the movies,  reading, and discussing our upcoming travel adventure.

28Jul2016 The Midland Hotel

Midland Hotel . Manchester

We were staying in Manchester for a week. I thought that would be plenty of time to sketch the exterior of the stunning Midland Hotel, as well as the interior of the rooms. As usual there was not. Life was so busy and I was still completing the drawings  on the day we were leaving. This drawing was completed in four sessions of between 15 and 30 minutes. I would  leave the hotel at 8ish , walk across the road and sit on the same bench at the back of Central Library and add a few more lines and colour. My new best friends are Venetian red and Dark Sepia Faber Castell watercolour pencils. But more about that later…..

I hope you enjoy joining me on my sketching journey . Please let me know if there is anything you would like me to talk about. I could talk on and on about travel sketching .

 

 

 

stocking up for travel sketching

I have I started thinking about my art gear for my upcoming three week holiday in the UK, and have purchased and ordered some supplies. Some had to be ordered online and I bought extras to stock up for home as well.

gear

I am going to attend the Urban Sketching Symposium in Manchester for three days, and will I be continuously sketching for the entire time.  I sketch daily now and will have even more to draw when I am away.

I’ll be taking my current pencil wrap (same old one as my new one did not get made), filled with  new Faber Castell LONG pencils. I’ve bought new watercolours pencil and will take doubles of a few that I am prone to use/loose.  Payne Grey, Ivory, Light Yellow Ochre.

I also bought some new watercolour pencil colours that I have been advised for UK trees, buildings  – Sap Green, Hookers Green, Alizarin Crimson.

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I am taking three Moleskine 13 x 19 cm Watercolour Sketchbooks. I have already started the first one by holiday sketching- drawing my new suitcase, some British pounds. I’ll sketch my clothes before I go. Then at the airport, on the plane ….

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My eraser is specific – it fits in my pencilwrap in a pencil space. TOMBOW Mono Zero 2.5 x 5 mm

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I’ll take two waterbrushes – one in use and one spare. I use ZIG Brush H20 Medium Tip. It has a filter that slows the flow of water. This suits my drawing style, as I don’t flood the page with water and colour and I like to work in small areas on the page.

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And a spare sharpener.  Blunt pencils make for a bad drawing – so much of my drawing of objects relies on the hint of detail,  which a sharp, fine line provides.

Of course, this is just my usual sketching gear. I am enrolled in four workshops and four activities at Manchester Urban Sketching Symposium. They will all challenge me and build my techniques and skills but are all suited to my drawing based approach. I will buy some extra art gear in Manchester when I get there. I am sure to get ideas from the other 500 sketchers there !

My burger at Lost Trades Fair

Yesterday a friend and I spent the day at the Lost Trades Fair at Kyneton, just over an hour by train from Melbourne. The Lost Trades fair showcases traditional, rare and unusual arts and trades and actively promotes the people who practise these skills.

The weather was just perfect  and I sketched all day completing 10 pages. I was experimenting with reportage sketching – telling a story.  I still have to scan my sketches and write commentary. I need to reflect on how I managed the day and what I would do differently. These will be the topic of a later blog.

Today is all about my lunch at Lost Trades Fair.

14mar16 LTF lunch

After sketching and talking to some incredibly interesting stall holders, we stopped for a well earned lunch at Sidonnia Hills Natural Beef for their Drover’s Burger.


 

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We sat on hay bales and I sketched my burger and finally ended up eating a slightly cool, but delicious burger. I chatted to people in the queue about sketching and my pencils. 

I like to draw a detailed object in watercolour pencil and then use my Lamy ink pen to sketch the context. In this case it was the people at the markets.

Here are the watercolour pencils I used (with a waterbrush)

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Left to right : Grass green, Chrome Oxide Green, ivory, Burnt Ochre, Cadmium Yellow, Light Yellow Ochre, Deep Scarlet Red, Walnut  Brown, Burnt Umber, Magenta, Burnt Sienna, Madder Crimson.

All are Faber Castell  Albrecht Durer watercolour pencils, except the last , which is a Derwent.

See my blog posts  and sketches from last years Lost Trades Fair

http://www.alissaduke.com/2015/03/lost-trades-fair-sketching-part-1.html

http://www.alissaduke.com/2015/03/lost-trades-fair-sketching-part-2.html

 

 

The Blues

not THE blues , but colourful blues with strange names.

In my watercolour pencil wrap that I carry with me everyday I have 26 colours, three are blue .

(Read more about my watercolour pencil wrap here)

blues everyday

Over the last few weeks in the evenings I have been creating an entry for a local art show and have been using every blue pencil I own. These are pencils that I have been given, or acquired.

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Almost all are watercolor pencils (except Bluish  Turquoise, which is a coloured pencil).

I have added water to a paintbrush and dragged it across the page to show the changes in colour that occur when water is added to the pigment. For this particular project it did not matter, but usually for my drawings I am trying to get the colour right . Over the last eight years that I have been using watercolour pencils I have become familiar with the colours and how they can be mixed and the effects. This is how I have chosen the three (above) for my everyday use .

Just to throw in something extra to the mix., the project is on brown card not white watercolour paper. The brown card changes the way the blue appears and it also soaks up the colour, leaving a dull surface, and making it difficult to draw fine, hard lines.

Airmail Parcel hint 2

Here is a hint. More will be revealed on Opening night in September

 

 

My first solo art exhibition

My first solo art exhibition. It is small but it is all mine.L1100034

My local East Melbourne Library provides display cabinets for residents to book for a month at a time for exhibitions. With the encouragement of friends, I booked a space for August. Then, with the incredible guidance and assistance of my good friend Louise, (curator and exhibition designer) we planned and then set up my display.

THE PLANNING

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This took many hours and the time that we spent planning paid off.   I learnt that there is a lot involved in finding a theme, keeping focus and using the space of the  glass cubes that make up the cabinets. I cut 12 squares of 30 x 30 cm paper (the number and size of each shelf) and spread them out over the floor at home . I then decided what should be placed in each shelf. We took it all down to the library last Saturday, making slight alterations on the day .

All along, I had visualised how I wanted my feather and nests sketches to be exhibited, and the final display exceeded all of my expectations.

The theme of the exhibition was based around the drawings I have had printed as Greeting Cards and envelopes (which are available for sale on my Etsy site). They include feathers, nests, library books and ladders and snails.

BOOKS

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There is one display cabinet featuring library books and ladders.

I tried to add as many relevant sketchbooks as possible to the display as well as the finished drawings  on loose sheets of A4 paper as I am really a sketchbook artist.


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FEATHERS, NESTS AND SNAILS

I also wanted to include some of the original objects that the drawings were inspired by.

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I have already received some lovely feedback from the library staff.

I hope that you have enjoyed strolling through my first solo exhibition with me today. It is very big event for me and I very proud of my exhibition.

Five watercolour pencil tips

As many of you may know, I draw with watercolour pencils. I enrolled in Cathy Johnson’s watercolour pencil course online in 2009.(It is now available as a CD).That triggered my love of watercolour pencils and I am still enjoying and excited by their possibilities.


Here is a list of MY top 5 tips for using watercolour pencils.

  1. become aware of the colours that your pencils make on paper when dry AND wet
  2. sharpen your pencils often- especially for those finer details
  3. draw the outline of the subject with the pencil that you are going to use as its colour (when you blend it with water the outline becomes part of subject instead of an outline)
  4. build up layers to create depth and texture
  5. experiment with the many ways of using watercolour pencils.

These are tips that I have discovered work for me as my style has developed over the past few years. I hope that this provides insight to gets people experimenting with this wonderful medium. Let me know if you have any questions !

Have a look at the following links to see more indepth information about how I use watercolour pencils

http://www.alissaduke.com/2014/03/drawing-feather-step-by-step.html

http://www.alissaduke.com/2013/03/me-and-my-watercolour-pencils.html