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Paul Howard demonstration
Landscape in w/c pencil, 23 April 2010
See more of his work at Art Profile. Contact him at paulhowart@live.co.uk


Paul has evolved from the night-time fairground acrylics that he used to do to more conventional landscapes and vintage tractors in watercolour pencil. He had brought along a good selection of these.
It was noticeable that with more time one can get much richer colours than he achieved during the demo.
This aimed more to explain the characteristics of Inktense pencils than to produce a finished painting.
He had pre-prepared his sheet of 300lb NOT Bockingford (heavily sized and tolerant of the eraser) with an outline in pencils and drawing gum.

The pencil marks were faint, done with a blunt hard pencil because the graphite from a soft pencil can pick up and muddy the painting. A stone wall had been drawn in some detail with a conventional coloured pencil which, unlike w/c pencil will not be affected by water. The same effect could have been obtained with Derwent's Inktense pencils on wet paper (of which more later).

The grey areas along the skyline are Pebeo watersoluble drawing gum. He much prefers this to ordinary masking fluid because it doesn't age as badly on the paper, is less affected by a hair drier and, provided you rinse them very frequently, doesn't damage your best brushes.


Detail of wall


The beach underpainting was done with paint taken from the tip of a normal w/c raw sienna pencil.
Inktense differ from ordinary w/c pencils in that once dried they become totally waterproof. This means that you can apply glazes without fear that later washes will mix with the earlier ones. However, if they are still dry and the paper is tough enough to stand it, you can rub out all such pencils with an ordinary hard rubber.

To avoid runs, Paul turned the board upside down before wetting the sky (up to the gum), picking bright blue off the end of an Inktense pencil with a wet squirrel brush and applying it pseudo-randomly to the wet paper. After taking off excess water with a tissue and resharpening the pencil to make sure the end was not wet, he left the sky for an hour or so to dry before putting further glazes over it.
The gum was removed before going into the distant hills with paint from a juniper green w/c pencil.

The effect of dry-on-dry w/c pencil, using the side, not the point (dents), was demonstrated in the distant trees. Cedar green was put in with short strokes, leaving lots of texture, and softened a bit by gentle dabbing with the damp brush. The point of a wet cedar green pencil was used on dry paper for the branches, and the side for foliage, of the midground tree.
When the distant hills were dry they were strengthened with more juniper and light yellow, applied with the sides of the pencils. In fact greens all seem to need modifying, often with yellow, to keep them interesting.

An even more intense yellow, sherbet lemon, started the field between the wall and the distant houses. This was toned down later with a golden brown. Paint was lifted off a violet w/c pencil for the path and the foreground beach. Paul used a rubber to soften the edge between the distant path and the beach.

The roof was outlined in orange chrome Inktense pencil, then cross-hatched, strenghtened with water (using a rigger) and later, when fairly dry, worked over with terracotta for realism.
Ultramarine makes more interesting shadows in the foliage. Blue shadows make the adjacent sunlit walls look whiter. A blue violet covers the stone wall and golden brown pencil marks create the shed. Vandyke brown painted into the shed and the bushes made the shadows there.

At this point the composition was weak - mostly because the foreground was empty. The blue and poppy red boat was a significant improvement but the two posts completed the job of guiding the eye across the picture and up to the main house.

Paul concluded this most interesting evening with a few pearls of wisdom: use decent (£1) pencils; sharpen them with a sharpener to get a consistent point as well as stopping water damage; don't rest your hand on wet paint. And all the time he was softening edges with the rubber.
Sam Dauncey
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