Watercolor pencils are fun to use and are convenient to use when sketching on location. By just bringing a kit with a set of 12 watercolor pencils, an Aqua Brush that holds water and eliminates the need to carry water, a pencil, and a sketchbook, you can do your watercolor painting anywhere easily. Watercolor pencils will add texture to your painting if you use cold pressed paper, due to the roughness of the paper. You can use them several ways:
1. Draw the scene in watercolor pencils, and then add water with your brush. Rinse the brush when you go to a different
color to keep the colors fresh.
2. When the paper is wet, draw with the watercolor pencil. It will be a deep, rich color, but will be very difficult to remove or
3. Hold the pencil color you need and wet it with the brush, then paint as you would regular watercolor. The effect will be
smooth like using tube colors, but usually lighter.
4. Draw with watercolor pencils over an existing watercolor to add texture, detail or depth. ( Especially good for animal fur.)
Then add a small amount of water as needed, or leave dry, like a colored pencil.
I decided to do two paintings in watercolor pencils, using paintings done in tube colors as my examples, to see how they would be different. I found I liked the texture I got from the pencils, and they were very different than the originals. After drawing the subject in watercolor pencils, I wet the color and lightly blended it before letting it dry. Then I added another layer of pencils, re-wet, and added the details with the pencils while wet, for bold color. I did some scraping with the back of my brush handle for more texture.
I also like using watercolor pencils for trees and plants. I draw them with the pencils and then add water with the brush.
Keeping a Nature Journal:
I recently taught a weekend workshop on nature journaling in watercolor to about twenty women. We used watercolors, watercolor pencils, fine point marking pens and pencils.
By being outside and recording our observations and thoughts on nature, we become a lot more observant and learn more about our surroundings. You can record what you see, what the weather is like, what birds you hear, and how you are feeling as you walk. You can use your nature journal to record your experiences at a certain location you like to visit, or when you take a trip and experience new surroundings. Be sure to include the date, time and location on each page, and something about what you saw or how you felt. A sketchbook can be a catalyst to learning more about what you observed, and with your sketch in hand, it will be easier to find answers to any questions you may have about what you saw.
You can divide the page into different sections to hold text or a closeup of what you are drawing, or an overall view. It is nice to include small samples of the colors you used on the page, for reference later, if you want to do a larger painting from this sketch.
For watercolor it is best not to use any paper less that 90# or the pages will wrinkle when you get them wet. I like a spiral bound sketchbook, but a bound sketchbook may be your choice. There are many sizes and shapes to choose from. It is best to keep your journal somewhere that is easy to access, and dedicate time to working in your journal. Try to record your thoughts when you are out, rather then relying on your memory when you get home.
When doing your drawings remember that it is not about making perfect renderings-- it is about observing and gathering information. Your drawing will get better with time and practice. Choose your own style, and don’t censor yourself in your writing or painting. Just let your thoughts and brush flow freely.