July 13, 2016

Watercolor Technique: Pencils

Today we will look into watercolor pencils and how they work. As I mentioned in previous posts, these are my absolute favorite mediums! No matter if you are a beginner or a pro in water-coloring, these are perfect since you don't need a lot of extras to use them. So what do you need to get started?

1. A good set of watercolor pencils like our Close to My Heart pencils which come in a nice set of different colors. Perfect to start with...click here
2. A small thin brush or small water tank brush...click here
3. A couple sheets of white cardstock, not to thin!
4. Archival or StazOn black ink or any ink that is not water based!!!!  
5. A nice stamp set

Let's see how I got started: 
First I took a strip of white cardstock, wrote the name of the color on it and colored a little circle underneath. Next I used a brush with just a tiny little bit of water and smooched out the color so I could see how it would look like once water is added to it. Water will make the color appear brighter!

I used a funny ladies stamp set from ArtImpressions and inked it up in StazOn ink. I used our plain Close to My Heart daisy white cardstock to stamp on. You don't need watercolor paper with the pencils if you are not going to use a lot of water.

Next I started to color my ladies in. As you can see in the picture "before" I didn't color the objects completely in. You want to keep in mind while coloring in, that you have a darker side on an object (shade) and a lighter one (light source). I also place some color on their clothing (very light) and added a littler darker color along shaded areas. 
One trick I learned recently was to always leave the middle of a persons face open...hard to vision, but you will see at the end how it turns out. Also leave the top of the head, shoulders etc white as well. 
Once everything is "colored in" or I would call it prepared, we grab our brush! 

You want to wet your brush and dry it of on a paper towel. To test how much water is still on your brush, I always brush it over the back of my hand and it should leave only a little trace of water...I know it is not much, but this is all you need! Now you start with one color, e.g. the blue shirt of the lady on the right. Begin in the lighter area and move to the darker part. You will see how nice the color flows and all streak from the pencil will disappear. Clean your brush before you move to the next color. Sometimes the color will spread a long way that's why I only color the object have way in, e.g. the foot bowls.
If you look at their faces, I when around the outsides and carefully evened out the middle, still keeping a white spot. Doesn't this make the face look more 3-D? Make sure to leave some of the white on top of the hair etc.

Well, what do you think about your first watercolor piece? Wasn't this easy? A little practice will go along way and all this with only a handful of supplies!

Here is another example of how I start my coloring:

I used three different color pencils for the rose. A very light peach, a medium orange and a darker red. I started with the lightest color and colored all rose petals in. Next I used the orange and added some shading to the petals. The shading is at the bottom of the petals and on the sides for the more round shapes. 

Looking at picture 3 I thought the light color was a bit too light, so I went over it again to make it a bit deeper. Next I used the dark red to give the rose petals more dimension. Going back and forth between these three colors and adding more until I felt I got the right mixture (picture 5). Always start light and keep adding.. In picture 6 you can see how I started to use the water brush on some of the petals, going from the lightest color to the darkest. If you get too much color on your brush, clean it off on your paper towel. You don't want to loose the shading by getting too much red into the peach. (Lower, second right and upper petal are brushed with water in pic.6)

 Finally all petals are done with water, I started with the leafs. I used three different shades of green. Starting with the lightest over the whole leaf, then adding the medium from the middle of the leaf half way out and last a little bit of the dark green along the vein of the leaf (picture 8). A little bit of water on the brush, I went from light green to dark, brushing off excess to keep the shading. My final rose picture can be seen in picture 9.

 Don't over-complicate the coloring at the beginning. Just have fun and see how the colors will react with water. The more you practice the more you get used to the shading. If you are interested in a class on how to water color, contact me. I would love to show you how!

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