Saturday, June 30, 2012

Something Old, Something New

Here are a few sketches I've done this year.

This first one - two, actually - are from photos.  I'd just gotten a Pentel Pocket Brush and wanted to see what kind of marks it would make.

In April we went hiking in Shenandoah National Park, and I took this amazing photo of my son-in-law standing on Crescent Rock.  This is a sketch I did of that photo using a set of Pitt Big Brush markers, the Pentel brush pen and a little watercolor.  I think the rocks suck, I've been working on that.

This is from a photo, Alaska, I think.

Another sketch done with the Pitt Big Brush markers.  I bought the 'warm gray' set of 4 and so far I like them alot, although I still need to learn how to use them (example: the squared-off blob in the lower part).

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Experimenting with Ink

Ink washes are something new for me, so I put together a page of the various fountain pen inks I have and tried to do a consistent set of tests on them to see how they'll react. In trying to keep the image size manageable, some detail was lost, so I'm going to describe what I see in each ink in case you can't make it out in the image. My apologies in advance for boring you!  You can also click on the image below to see it in it's original size to pick up some of the nuances that I'll describe.

These were done on Canson cold-press, 140lb watercolor paper. Since each pen, ink and paper combination can react differently, your results will probably vary. I still think this can be a useful baseline.

For each ink, I scribbled down the left hand side, then used a waterbrush to wash the bottom half of the scribble to the right. I did a quick dab with a paper towel to clean any remaining ink out of the brush, then continued the wash upwards. Next I did a second wash along the very bottom of the ink, trying to scrub the original ink lines away as much as possible. Finally, I put some clean water down to the right and drew cross-hatching through the wet area of the paper.

Details, details...
Aurora Black - The original pen lines washed away almost completely, and the wash was strong. I can see why this ink is popular here on the forum. As for the wet-on-wet cross-hatching, I suspect that I waited too long to make my pen marks, which explains the lack of feathering. 
J. Herbin Lie de The - The strongest and weakest ends of the wash here are undeniably brown, but the second wash and the fade to the right both show a definite green tint. There are faint green lines left under the wash where the original pen scribble was made.

Private Reserve Burgundy Mist - The early word on Private Reserve inks was that over time certain colors would darken in the bottle. This ink makes me believe it to be true. When I first got this, the ink was a rich, deep purple-red, but you can see that now it's turned into a dark navy blue. When the waterbrush hits it though, it turns into a blueish wash with tinges of pink. In fact, the second scrub wash leaves behind red lines as the blue washes away. Both washes left traces of the original pen lines.

Waterman Red - This bright red ink disolves completely into the wash.

Mont Blanc British Racing Green - This is my all-time favorite green, which is why Mont Blanc stopped making it. As soon as that was announced, existing supplies were gobbled up and the only place to find it anymore is on eBay, for a price. Oh well, I'll find a replacement. When you wash this dark green, the original pen lines are left, dark and clearly visible. The wash fades beautifully into a grayish green.

Noodler's Red-Black - When you wash this ink, the red releases first, leaving dark "black" lines behind. A second wash will lighten up the lines to gray, but they do not disappear. On the wet-on-wet cross-hatching, this ink showed the least amount of feathering.

Levenger Cardinal - This is a slightly darker shade than the Waterman Red, but it behaves much the same way in a wash. The original lines completely disappear. I don't use this ink anymore because the nib creep was so horrible that I was constantly cleaning the inside of the cap of whichever pen I'd loaded it in. Levenger's customer service sent me a replacement bottle (see Empyrean below), and I'm happy to say that I've had no problems with that ink.

Private Reserve Spearmint - This is a much brighter green than the Mont Blanc, but it leaves similar dark lines behind in a wash and fades nicely to a grayish green color. Ignore the little red splotch in the corner there, a tiny bit of Cardinal was hiding in my waterbrush and decided to make an appearance.

Levenger Empyrean - Halfway between navy and bright blue, this ink is much better behaved than the other Levenger ink. There are dark lines left after the wash, but you can see where they feathered quit a bit, even though they didn't disappear. The lightest wash tends towards gray.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Negative Space

Negative painting means you paint around an object to show that it's there.  I created the painting below as an exercise from Linda Kemp's excellent book, "Painting Outside the Lines".  Notice that I don't actually paint the trees, I paint the background around it and the tree shape appears.

This is a powerful technique and one I'm going to really have to work at to master.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Pen and Ink

I almost always carry a fountain pen with me, it's what I use.  Recently, I ran across the idea of using a brush dipped in water to cause the ink to run in a (mostly) controlled way, creating shadows and tone.

I tried it, and I'm hooked.  As often as not, I'll carry my small sketchbook and now a waterbrush with me, to go along with my trusty fountain pens.  Below are some examples.

These first two I did at Hollywood Casino in Charles Town, WV.  My wife is an occasional gambler, I'm not.  I go, grab a cup of coffee and sit in the food court and people watch, read, and sketch.

Lamy Safari with Noodler's Red-Black ink.

Pentel brush pen.

One lovely Spring morning out back with the dog.  Lamy Safari with Levenger's Empyrean ink.