I am rather enjoying sketching as part of my morning routine. Today’s sketch is still in Independence, California. There is a trail that connects the native plant garden to a small park, Dehy Park, and I think I took this picture along the pathway. I found the repeated curved rhythm of the trees to be utterly charming – I expect the wind has a lot to do with the way the trees are bent.
Anyway, I decided to not use my Micron pens, as I have for the past three days, but to use a quill I cut myself from a turkey or goose feather and my homemade iron gall ink. First, I sketched the grove.
Then, I let the ink dry – or thought I did! – before adding the watercolor. Areas of ink were still wet. One of the drawbacks of iron gall ink is that it does take a bit of time to dry. The wet ink messed up some of the paints by blending in with the colors, muddying them.
Once I noticed that I decided to use dots and such with the watercolor, especially for the foliage toward the top of the trees. I dabbed the paint on, in between the black, inky branches.
I mixed colors with a water brush, stronger than the paler colors I have been using, and just applied them. The effect wasn’t too bad. In between the leaves I used blue, again, tapping the paint in, avoiding the dark of the ink.
After the paint dried, I went through a second time with the iron gall ink, both with the quill and then a defunct water brush. I think it helped out, but overall, the sketch is still quite messy, and certainly not what I intended. What I do like is the sense of dappled sunlight in the leafy canopy.
Takeaway points: First, the ink needs to dry before applying the watercolor paint. My quill has a wider tip on it than your standard dip pen, and thus makes bold lines. However, a bit more care could create a better combination of lines, and perhaps render the sketch more interesting. Adding brushwork and stronger lines after the first ink and paint applications helped to strengthen some areas. After I did that, I went about the morning chores while the sketchbook dried outdoors in the morning sun. I had to wait an hour at least – and then, the scan of the final sketch!