Saturday, March 23, 2013

Summer Egret in Neocolor II

Great Egret at Morris Arboretum Wetlands. Crayon and wash by Ken Januski

Sometimes a commission, deadline or other such thing will give me the impetus to stop thinking about what I want to do next and just do it. Such has been the case with the invitation to demonstrate some wet media work on Stillman and Birn sketchbooks next month.

Above is another 9x12 inch Caran d'Ache Neocolor II water soluble crayon work on Stillman and Birn Delta sketchbook paper. Like yesterday I started off with a pencil drawing. I'd say I spent about one hour on it and two hours on the painting. Once I had the egret looking the way I wanted, though his pose looks a bit off now, I started adding color.

I originally bought the Neocolors a few years ago because I wanted a way to quickly add color when working from life outdoors. Sad to say I never got them to work for that and in fact was generally too intimidated to even try.

Instead I used them in the studio after the fact to work from sketches and photos. As with any new medium there is a learning curve. The odd thing about them is that they are a linear medium, a medium that makes marks. But because they are water soluble they're also a shape and mass medium, a medium that makes areas not lines. That is the rub in learning how to use them.

A number of people whose work I've seen online seem to favor using them as a light wash to accompany the strong outlines of a pen or pencil drawing. And that's fine. It may in fact be their most appropriate use. But I find that I want to use them to make a painting. So I start off with the lines of the crayon but soon have a work that is mainly masses of color.

What I like about this, and about being able to use them on the Stillman and Birn paper, is I'm able to do a small scale painting with minimum fuss. I can get many of the richnesses and complexities of oil, acrylic and watercolor on a sheet of paper. And the paper holds up to all the work and all the water. I suspect this is why I think the combination is so good for working through ideas for future paintings.

One thing about the Neocolors is that they are fairly bright. Not everyone will like this. But for me it's just my cup of tea!

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