183. White & Blue Flowers

After a lot of watercoloring, picking up a pen and using ink to draw feels really relaxing.  Adding watercolor to a pen drawing doesn’t need a lot of color, but it does require a bit of thought about light and shadow.

I thought about a daisy study of Peter Sheeler’s on YouTube – I remembered how very little color he added to his ink drawing of the daisy.  With this in  mind, I put in some greys and grey-blues.  I tried to apply the same concept to the blue flowers (which I want to call cornflowers, but don’t think they are), and to the grasses and leaves.  Below is my ink drawing, done freehand without a pencil sketch beforehand.  I am rather pleased with both – my inking skills are improving, as, perhaps, are my watercoloring skills.  Less is more has become more of motto than before!

179. Orange Slices

Today, an ink study of orange slices on a bit of peel.

I am / was trying to do a bit of watercolor painting every day, but I find that such commitments, while good, can be stifling.  Drawing is integral to painting, and it is a pleasure to do in and of itself.

I’ve been working on the exercises in Alphonso Dunn’s Book Pen & Ink Drawing Workbook, so an ink drawing after exercises seems like a good thing to do!  I know I certainly enjoy drawing after the practice.  It’s also relaxing and, I find, a good way to loosen up for a painting session.

In addition to using Dunn’s book, I am also working through Tom Hoffmann’s Watercolor Painting:  A Comprehensive Approach to Mastering the Medium.  Right now I am working on simplifying forms and determining the 5 shades of grey – the lights and the darks – in pictures.  I am not very good at that, so combining his exercises along with ink drawing, I think it may sink in.  Then, let’s see if it can be applied to paint.

Thus, a dose of vitamin C for painting health!

175. In the Style of Urban (Not the Pope)

In a number of circles, there is an “urban sketch” style done with ink and watercolor.  Drawing and painting are combined.  Some people are masters of it, in my opinion, having a good balance of ink and clear watercolor, with one or the other predominating, and the other not overwhelming its partner.  (I hope that made sense!)

I am trying to find that balance.  I’d say I am okay with ink, but heavy-handed with color.

Today I decided to try two things.  The first is above – a simple “country” scene with trees (and green!  remember yesterday?), a fence, and a building.  The idea was for the sun – the light source – to be coming from the left, behind the barn.  I’m not so sure what that big blue thing is to the right of the (obvious) three shadows of the trees, but it’s too late to do anything about that!

This one is an urban scene, one obviously not in downtown Los Angeles, but in some older part of the world.  Here, the light is coming from the right, perhaps, but the alleys and buildings create their own logic.  Shadows are broken up with bright spots.  One can only imagine that to find the light, looking up will reveal a world much different than the one on the ground.  I think this one was fairly successful; there are parts which seem to work, and others that make no sense at all – like, what is that thing?  Scribble more ink on it and let the viewer guess!

171. A Bowl of Tulips

Today I had a morning appointment.  After I came home, I had lunch, took a nap, and then migrated all sorts of toys to the patio.  My neck got sunburned!  Amongst the toys were a set of Albrecht Durer watercolor pencils by Caran D’Arche, a bowl of tulips, a brush pen, ink pen, and paper.

This is probably the third time I have used these pencils, and this time around I am happier with the results.  I have watched a few videos from YouTube on using them, and the tips were worthwhile.  For example, layering and laying down glazes to get better results.  Being patient!  My own painting skills are better than they used to be, so my sense of light / dark is not as klutzy as it was a few months ago.  And, without having the need to produce some work of art, I was a lot more relaxed.  Of course, sitting in the sun didn’t hurt any.

In general, my own experience with watercolor pencils is that they are not strong enough in color to produce the type of strong contrast I seem to prefer visually.  Maybe it’s just my limited experience.  Nonetheless, I am happy with the results demonstrated in this little study.

168. Daffodils

Today was just too nice of a day to stay home, so I headed out to the local botanical garden, cameras in hand, pen, and paper.  Bulbs are up and beginning to blossom; the ones in the shade are getting there – more for later visits!  Birds, butterflies, bees, cool breezes.

Since I have been playing around with the exercises in Alphonso Dunn’s fine book today, I decided to continue the adventure and draw some daffodils with pen and ink, but follow through using watercolor pencil.

I laid down the major lines in pencil, and followed through with a fine pointed Namiki pen with waterproof ink.

Next, direct application of Faber-Castell’s Albrecht Durer watercolor pencils.

And finally, using a water brush, I wet the colors, taking time to use a light touch.  A few lines of extra ink, and it was done.  Below is a gallery if you wish to cruise through the sequence from pen, pencil, and water.

167. Lines

Every now and then an outstanding artist and instructor shows up on the scene.  When they write books that are accessible and practical, it’s even better.  Alphonso Dunn is one such person!  He has a personal website, a YouTube channel full of information and wonderful tutorials, and two fantastic books.

The workbook was published after the simple guide, but is used in tandem with the exercises found in the workbook.  Besides using the two together, head over to YouTube for a really great set of instructions.

Today, rather than paint, I finally sat down and did some exercises from Dunn’s books.  The exercises were on lines – direction, shape, shift.  It takes a bit of patience and time to understand what may be going on.  I had to think about how I had my pad of paper, how far up or down my fingers were on the pen, whether to use my fingers, my wrist, or more of an arm movement.  In many ways, doing these exercises made me think of learning printing and cursive back when I was a sweet young thing.  Lines, repetition, thinking about how to do things, and doing them over and over.

Skill is bought with repetition – but repetition of itself is rather dull.  Rewards sure help!  Thus, a few drawings – one of a hat from Dunn’s book, and one of a Christmas cactus on my patio.  In each, I used straight lines, or slightly curved ones.  I thought about light and dark, repetition and straight or curved lines, or placing more lines over ones already laid down.  

To aid with the line studies, I ruled pencil lines onto my sketch paper.  It helped.  Sometimes I also drew vertical lines, or extra horizontal lines, either in pencil or pen.

Nothing like a pen in hand to make me happy!  Altogether a pleasant way to while away an afternoon.  I shall continue!

162. On the Forest Floor

A few goals for this mornings painting.  First, keeping the white flowers white.  Outlines helped here!  Second, wet-in-wet painting.  That worked well, too.  As an afterthought, I worked on the shape of the vignette within the frame.  Top, bottom, sides.  The far right could run off the page a bit more – I could crop it, if I wanted, but I rather like the reminder of the flaws I see, too.