Thursday, June 11, 2009

Wood Ducks with Watercolor Pencil

I think that World Drawing Day last Saturday, and my very poor watercolor pencil work from that day, must have put a fire under me. I seem to be doing a new sketch almost every day. As I said in earlier posts much of that is motivated by my desire to finally figure out how to use watercolor pencils.

There is an irony here, especially in today's work. I thought I would use watercolor pencils and waterbrushes as handy tools for quick work in the field. Bring along a few colored pencils and some brushes and you can paint anywhere. The resulting work would be quick and without details. Eventually I may do that but right now I'm doing the opposite: working inside, from photos, in detail. Why?! Well I think much of it comes from my disappointment with my work so far. So I'm continuing to experiment letting the pencils take me where they may.

Today I'm working from a photo of some Wood Ducks seen at the Wissahickon in Philadelphia on Easter Day, 2009. They are among America's most beautiful birds.

Since I seem to overwork watercolor pencil sketches so much I'm trying to be more cautious, doing a fairly detailed drawing, putting in small areas of color with the pencils, often blending two or three colors in the same spot.

Tnen finally using brushes to turn the pencil into a watercolor wash. I also abandoned waterbrushes today and turned to my best and smallest watercolor brushes. I've tried to be very sparing as I laid down washes.

This is it for today. I've many other things to do. And I want to stop before I overwork it. I think yesterday's Greater Yellowlegs lost its vibrancy because of my experiments with layers of color in the background. It was a useful experiment but I'd do it differently next time. You just can't work the background that thoroughly and still expect vibrancy in the work. So today I'm doing the opposite. There's a whole lot of bare paper here. But Cezanne, among many others, showed how effective blank paper can be. We'll see tomorrow whether it still looks effective.

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