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VENICE

GRAND CANAL

A Developing

Step by Step

Exercise

INTRODUCTION

This page will remain unchanged through the exercise.

The working pages ( see links on the left )

will be edited as we go along and will show the progress

of the picture during coming weeks


This is the scene we are going to be undertaking.  

It is an amalgamation of two photographs which are shown below

Because the viewpoint produces different perspectives into the camera for each of the images,

we will need to solve the problem of the distortion before we start.  This is easy enough to do, but we must be aware of the need and sort it out first

We may add some more traditional boats to the scene….

That could be more interesting !

This is an earlier sketch for a pastel.


I included more boats and also more figures which adds interest

This reference picture has been reduced in height by cropping the lower edge.  

We will probably include more of the nearest part of the right hand boat and an additional reference will be available for that.

If it is decided that additional boats or items are to be included, extra reference photos will be provided at the time

I show the amalgamation of the two main reference photos above in the larger reference below

WHAT PENCILS DO I NEED ?


Any well known artist brand of watercolour pencils.

There are top quality brands which will be easier to work and which will release good quality pigment on to the paper.

There are cheaper brands which have less pigment and will not be as easy to use.

Among the top brands you will find:

Artist Quality

Derwent  Watercolour pencils

Caran d’Ache Supracolor

Caran d’Ache Museum Aquarelles

( the most expensive and very good)

Faber-Castell Albrecht Durer Aquarelles  ( an older formula )


Good Student quality and therefore not as expensive

Staedtler Karat

If you are buying these, go for the full set of 60 via the Internet

They are reasonably priced and will be all you need


I do not advise Derwent Inktense as they are very strongly pigmented and also permanent when they have been wet - not ideal for beginner techniques

I do not advise ‘own brand’ watercolour pencils or low cost imports from the far east. These can be good, but more often than not can create more difficulties than they cure

WHAT PAPER DO I NEED ?


The last time we did one of these exercises, virtually everyone was in the UK, so we were able to specify a paper which was readily available.  This time the prospective members of the group are spread Worldwide and different papers will be selected depending on where you live and what is available.


I have avoided a hot pressed paper for my selection as this is too smooth to give a ‘watercolour’ effect and using a cold pressed watercolour paper allows for some grain to show and gives some benefits ( and one or two challenges ).


You need a 300gsm (140lb) watercolour paper with some surface grain , but not too much.  My early thought was to use Bockingford but this does have a bit more surface pattern than we need.  

Select one that is internally and externally sized, if you can.

 If you don’t know about papers, then look for a good make ( Canson, Daler Rowney, Strathmore, Fabriano and Clairfontaine are all good)


I will be working on Clairfontaine Etival cold pressed 300gsm which has a different surface on each side. I shall use the smoother side.

Below is an indication of the grain on the Etival paper and compares it with  Bockingford Cold Pressed

HOW BIG A PICTURE ?


You can work from a pad ( sealed around the edges) which will be convenient to buy and to use.  This will give you more than one sheet ( in case of disasters ! ) But limit you to using what the manufacturers regard as the ‘top’ surface of the paper.  Many papers have different patterns on the two sides, so using an individual sheet of paper gives you more options.


The picture I first started to work on in preparation for this exercise was about 18 inches x 12 inches,  so that needed to be on a sheet of paper fixed to a board.  

This size enables me to photograph detail well for the notes.


The most practical size for you to work will be slightly smaller and on a standard sized sheet or pad around 16 inches x 12 inches and I will give you a reference photo sized to this paper.

You will also be able to buy tracing paper to the same size and this can be useful if you need to start again without all the trauma of re-drawing from scratch.


The base (smaller) reference is on a PDF file and is sized to an A4 sheet.  In order to give you a larger reference on PDF, available to be printed out, the larger size will be on two PDF files and this will be posted up here before we start in January.


Hopefully I will also have a drawn image available by that time for those who want to take a short cut and have the image pre-drawn for them.

Commencing January 1st 2017

I will feature a developing step by step exercise of a scene on the Grand Canal in Venice.


The main image used as a reference

Has been posted below with links to various PDF files

so that those who wish to work along with the picture can do so from good quality references.


This exercise is similar to the one we did several years ago with the Allerford Pack Horse Bridge scene and which a number of readers worked along with.  Through Email/Facebook Group contact it will be possible to discuss and ask questions, and an edited version of the notes will be shared on the website page as we go.


The paper used will be a standard Cold pressed watercolour paper 300gsm (140lb)

 without too great a roughness. The paper will not be stretched,


The worked picture will be around  15 inches wide by 9 inches high

and go on an A3 sheet or standard pad size 16 x 12 but you may wish to work a little smaller


I will use mainly Derwent Watercolour pencils and where I don’t have the colours I need

I may venture into Caran d’Ache Supracolour.  

Any good brand of Aquarelle will serve, but you will need  range of at least 60 colours
I will tell you the colours and brand I am using,  alternative colours and brands will be discussed

More details of what you will need is given lower down this page.



THIS EXERCISE IS PLANNED TO GUIDE PEOPLE NEW TO WATERCOLOUR PENCILS

AND ALSO PROVIDE SOME CHALLENGES AND POSSIBLY NEW IDEAS FOR ARTISTS WHO ARE MORE SKILLED IN THE MEDIUM

IT WILL ALSO OPEN UP AN AREA (LANDSCAPES) WHICH SOME SKILLED PENCIL ARTISTS DO NOT OFTEN VENTURE INTO


For this reason I am planning to approach the tutorial as follows..



THE BASIC STEPS FOR THIS EXERCISE

1.  Assess the picture to decide the best approach

Some early thoughts about this -

Some folk like to work on stretched watercolour paper when using watercolour pencils, but stretching paper is a challenge too far for many people. This is why I have said we will work on unstretched paper.  However, skies are relatively simple on stretched paper ( we just use watercolour techniques with the pencil pigment ).  If you have the skill and the facility to stretch your paper and you want to take this route, you will want to do this before you transfer the image from the reference.  

If you are going to try one of my suggestions for a sky on unstretched paper, then you will be able to transfer the image without worrying about stretching the paper first.

Some of the members of the group are skilled artists who may wish to take one direction. Others may be beginners who will choose to take the alternative.  The choice will be yours, but I will cover all the alternatives for skies that I know about ………. and some group members may be able to add even more options to my list.   You will note that in step 4 (below,) I suggest taking a trace of your final working sketch before you start with colour - as an insurance policy. Working a sky is one of the most interesting and risky parts of the whole operation which is why we will consider doing this at the start …

It means that if things go wrong and the sky is a failure, we can quickly re-draw our sketch from the trace on a fresh sheet of paper and try again.


When we start at the beginning of January,

my early conversations with the group will be to resolve who is going to do what with the paper and sky.  

We will also consider other factors that may need an early choice of approach.


We will then be able to move on to step 2


2. Transfer a sketch drawing to the working paper

There are a number of options here.  

Once more, the skilled artists in the group may wish to use a familiar method.  There are a wide number of choices.  I will go through the various methods I know of, but will explain a quick system which many of you may not have used before.  You will be recommended to try out the ‘new’ method on scrap paper and then select the transfer method you are most comfortable with


Next we will


3.  Correct and adjust the sketch

4. Take a trace of the starting image in case of disasters

5.  Apply a foundation of colours to tint the paper

6. Repeat 5  if necessary

7  Develop strength of colour for darker areas to give balance

8. Add dry detail

9. Work any dry pigment as required

10. Decide when it is finished

11. Sign it

The group working along with me will be discussing progress and asking questions through the Topics Talk Facebook Group.


Members of this group are being recruited from November 2016 onwards.


We have over 25 initial group members as at December 10th, and I will make a further announcement on Facebook around December 15th to see if anyone else is interested in joining


You will need to be registered through Facebook on to the ‘secret’ group and membership is by invitation (hence the need to contact me first).

As it is a ‘secret’ group, you can’t find it or post to it without being invited and being added to the list of members


You will not be required to pass any examination, you will not be required to meet any prior standard of work, and you will not be required to finish the picture you start.  You WILL be required to enjoy

what you do

Some elements of this introduction will be expanded as we progress

I do like the colour of that green/blue water with the red of the blinds in the archways


THERE IS ONE THING YOU MIGHT LIKE TO THINK ABOUT


When I drafted my first trial of this tutorial

earlier in the Autumn,

I first drew the sketch image out entirely freehand

and with a ruler in fineliner black ink.


The result was quite appealing

You can see something of it here

 and on the next page (working page 1).


We will discuss this option before we get under way,

as it will be quite possible to develop the new picture

as a pen and wash exercise rather than as a purely watercolour pencil one.  

In that case the ink lines will be applied after the pencil sketch has been finalised

and then all the graphite pencil  lines removed

before we launch into colour.


I favour going forward in the ‘traditional’ way

having no ink involved,

but that doesn’t mean you can’t take

the pen and wash route if you wish

It will make no difference to the techniques

Just to the final effect

NOTE  - this is in NO WAY a finished example !

All these illustrations are available as downloadable PDF files

Links to the downloadable PDF files are at the foot of this page

In the introduction to this tutorial, I covered the brands of watercolour pencils that I suggested and also talked a little about paper choices.  We need now to go into more detail about the paper and our approach to working on it.


Hot Pressed paper has a smooth surface - ideal for detail and photographic effect.   Cold pressed paper has a grain on the surface which gives high points to engage with the pencil or brush point and valleys in the grain which can leave white flecks typical of a watercolour style.    If we work dry pencil pigment along the paper surface we can leave a pattern of colour and white paper which differs according to the paper manufacturer’s design.   Papers made in a Cold Pressed style will often have two sides that differ - a smoother and a rougher side.  The rougher the paper surface, the more difficult it will be to get detail, but then we don’t always want fine detail - sometimes we are looking for an artistic effect.

Watercolour pencils enable us to lay down the pigment on the paper and then manage it with a damp brush.  We will see the several different techniques for this as we progress through the tutorial.  Suffice it to say that if we lay down dry colour on a cold pressed paper and then lightly wash in the colour to obtain an evenly coloured surface, we can go back once the paper is thoroughly dry and apply more colour in a light layer over colour number 1.  This produces a wonderful effect that you can’t obtain any other way.  I show below some thumbnails of a pen and watercolour pencil trial done on cold pressed paper in preparation for this tutorial


Some of the colour areas shown above are entirely dry pigment,

some washed with dry pigment on top.  

and some with multiple layers

So, having looked at why we might choose to use a cold pressed paper, we should now consider the weight of the paper we are going to use.  Paper comes described in either Grammes per square metre ( GSM ) or as pounds per 500 sheets of the paper sized 25 x 38 inches.   Don’t get too hung up over this - a sheet of art paper described as 300 GSM compares almost directly with a sheet described as 140lb and this is the way you will see it described on a pad of art paper.  The heavier the paper, the more stable it will be when wet (and the more expensive).  

What we are looking for is a paper that will accept colour well (  a paper made with gelatine size to stabilise the wet pigment ), be heavy enough to accept alterations without damage, and be strong enough not to buckle when it expands with the addition of water.   Because we are using very little water compared with someone painting in traditional watercolours, we don’t have to worry too much about preparing the paper before we start.   When ever I commence a watercolour pencil work which I expect to frame and hopefully sell, I always stretch the paper on a special board before I start.  This leaves me with all the options still open as to how I proceed.


FOR THIS EXERCISE I have suggested that you use a heavyweight ( 300 GSM/140lb ) paper, don’t stretch it,

and avoid using much water.

If you know all about paper stretching and are familiar with the process, then by all means stretch your paper before you start.

I am going to leave my paper unstretched.



SO WHY MIGHT WE WANT TO STRETCH THE PAPER FOR THIS PICTURE ANYWAY ?


The sky area will benefit from a thin layer of even blue colour to indicate a spring day and enable us to play with shadows.

This is relatively simple with watercolour washes on stretched paper.  Fluffy clouds against a blue sky can also be very successful with watercolour techniques.  This is the straightforward approach and is the one most frequently used.


HOWEVER Because this tutorial is designed to look at techniques, I think it would be good to look at alternative ways of doing a sky which can be done on an unstretched heavyweight paper ( even when it is cold pressed ).  

You will be the judge over how successful we will be !





THE NEXT STEP WILL BE TO LOOK AT THE WAYS WE CAN DO THE ACTUAL TRANSFER OF THE IMAGE TO OUR WORKING SURFACE …………………

……………..THEN WE WILL LOOK AT SKY TECHNIQUES

WATERCOLOUR PENCILS


People get very excited over what is the best brand to use and exactly which colour they should be using at any point.

I am a firm believer in the fact that it doesn’t really matter which brand or which colour so long as it is working easily on the paper and that you understand that colours don’t need to be ‘exact’.


A whole range of different brands will be used across the group. Each person will apply their pigment to the paper with different pressure and there will be many slight differences in the way the colour will be treated.  This means that the final picture will vary a great deal in the end colours and tonal range.    I will give some idea of alternative colours in other brands to the one that I am using ( which will be mostly Derwent Watercolour pencils).  I have most brands here, but the low cost brand I will refer to most often will probably be the Staedtler Karat aquarelles which sell at under £1 a pencil in the UK on the Internet.  The 60 box is ideal as it contains a good range of workable colours.  If you are planning to use a brand other than Derwent (watercolour), Staedtler(karat), Faber Castel (Albrecht Durer), Caran d’Ache (Supracolour Soft, or Museum ), let me know and I will advise.


I always suggest a set of colours containing 60 or more so that you have a good selection to call on.


You should have a good sharpener (a spiral cutter preferably but if not, then one with a new blade in it)


And two or three low priced watercolour brushes - you don’t need sable or fancy expensive ones - simply ones that come to a good point and have a good ‘spring’ to the bristle. I generally use the nylon type costing just a few pounds.  They only have to carry a small amount of water across TO the paper and then work the colour ON the paper.


A supply of kitchen paper is useful and we will discuss a wonderful collection of other bits and pieces of mainly household stuff as we go along ( you will be surprised what we can use to work the colour on the paper )



IF YOU ARE NOT ON ONE OF THE FACEBOOK GROUPS I HAVE CONTACTED AND WOULD LIKE TO TAKE PART

AS A MEMBER OF THE

‘WORK ALONG’ GROUP

PLEASE REGISTER YOUR INTEREST BY CONTACTING  ME
VIA EMAIL before the end of December

YOU ARE WELCOME TO JOIN IN THIS FREE TUTORIAL


ALL SKILL LEVELS WILL BE CATERED FOR AS THE TECHNIQUE ELEMENTS WILL RANGE FROM THE VERY BASIC THROUGH TO THE NEEDS OF THE SKILLED ARTIST.


WATERCOLOUR PENCIL LANDSCAPES

ARE NOT OFTEN COVERED IN BOOKS

AND MANY ARTISTS ARE LEFT TO EXPLORE

AND DISCOVER METHODS OF WORKING

FOR THEMSELVES.


THIS IS AN OPPORTUNITY FOR ANYONE TO ASK QUESTIONS AND OFFER IDEAS.  I DON’T PRETEND TO BE AN EXPERT, MERELY SOMEONE WHO PROVIDES A PLACE TO LEARN

LINK TO WORKING PAGE ONE

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