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 Country Lane Watercolour Pencils

Water colours are a fabulous little medium, in fact I use them so much I even did a book called Quick & Clever Watercolour Pencils. Because it has to be said, myself included, 9 times out of 10 they are just for sketch book type images. But as I proved in the book they are also a fabulous little medium in their own right for full blown paintings. Much better than using photographs is to use you colour sketches and what better way than to go outside with a couple of brushes a tin of watercolour pencils and your sketchbook because you are logging all the colours that you see and focusing in on the main subject of the painting by drawing them. Here are a couple of images where I did just that for some of the TV programmes that we made out on location (gateway, lighthouse)

Essential Supplies

The items you will need to complete this scene are as follows:-

Watercolour Paint

Cobalt Blue
Hooker's Green
Yellow Ochre
Alizarin Crimson
Burnt Sienna
Charles Evans Sand
Charles Evans British
Light Red
Raw Umber
1.5" Wash brush
3/4" Wash brush
No.8 Round

Step 1 :

In this first image you will see that I have done a very simple outline drawing but instead of using a normal pencils, I have used a watercolour penil and a colour called blue grey.

Step 2 :
In the next image you will see that I have filled in the far distant woodland and just scribbled on with some blue grey on the main block and then a little bit of ultra marine blue in the bottom block, then a touch of vivid green in the top.

The other beauty of it is to remember you have a pencil in your hand. Therefore you have ultimate control and as with any pencil the harder you press on the stronger the mark is going to be. In this case the deeper the colour. There are lots of different greens in watercolour pencils. In this next image you will see that behind the house I have put on fairly strong hookers green then next to the block of hookers green is vivid green, sounds all very complex I'm sure but any tin of watercolour pencils, of a landscape variety, will -have most of these colour in. Although I use the Daler–Rowney watercolour pencils which are a very strong pigment and in my mind are definitely of a superior quality. Here and there below the vivid green you will see some yellow this is actually raw sienna.

Step 3 :

Now into the hookers green behind the house I have put some ultra marine blue.

There comes a stage in every watercolour pencil drawing or painting when its going to look a bit of a mess, a bit like a kids drawing with squiggles all over the place, but when you add the water that’s when the magic happens, so now its time for the sky wash. I never scribble onto my sky area and hopefully get rid of all the hard lines with the water. Because afterwards it’s a bit late and all those lines haven’t gone and your sky is ruined. So instead do it this all I am doing is taking the colour off my pencil with my ¾” wash brush, the stroke straight on to the painting;

I am starting off with a little bit of raw sienna followed by ultra marine blue, followed by a few touches of indigo here and there.
And just like any other watercolour painting suck out a few clouds here and there with my damp brush.

Now just with my damp brush I am wetting the colours of the trees that I put on earlier. Now also into the greens behind the house. Also as I am wetting the colours I am spreading and mixing together the blues into the green softening colour and merging. Making sure that there are only hard lines where I want there to be hard lines. At this stage it starts to look like a painting rather than a colour drawing. Now I am going to let this dry a little bit before again starting with the drawing process.

So its time to back in with dry pencil, and I am going to the building which I am doing with a little bit of raw sienna first for my light and raw umber for my slightly darker tones. The hedge in front of it, I am again going to use raw sienna and a touch of light red and then a little bit of my vivid green. To be honest in watercolour pencils there are so many names of colours that in workshops using watercolour pencils I don’t tell pupils specific names all the time its just a light green a mid green, or a dark green. Because every manufacturer of colours have names that are specific to them.

For the roof of the building I have touched in very lightly with a colour called cool grey to ensure that I keep light on the roof but I didn’t want as glaringly white as leaving white paper. For the hedge on the left hand side I have used the same colours as the hedge on the right hand side, but pressed on stronger and harder and out a little bit of ultra marine blue into the base of the hedge, just like I treated the trees behind the house.

As you will see from this image, it looks all very scratchy and jumbled. Now its time once again to turn it into paint.

You will notice that I am building up very strong colours on the left hand side, this is because on this picture I want the light coming from the left, so this hedge is going to be in shadow.

Now its time for those big chunky trees in the foreground.

I am starting off with a little bit of yellow ochre to the left hand side of my trunks and bows. I’m pressing on fairly hard to get a stronger colour. I am now adding a little bit of Vandyke brown and again press on fairly hard. The temptation at this stage is to leave these trees as dry pencil because they are actually starting to look quite nice as they are. But I want a softer approach to this picture. Finally just here and there in the trees, I am going on with a little bit of black in this case the colour is called mars black. But black by any other name. I don’t want to fiddle about with too many twigs and stuff because obviously be the look of the rest of the picture these are going to be in full foliage. The foliage I’m not going to draw in, I am going to paint straight on by taking the colour straight off the pencil with my wet brush. But before that lets wet these trees.

For the wetting process of the trees I am using my NO 8 round brush. These brushes that I have used for the whole of the project are No 8 round and 3/4” flat wash brush, the same brushes that I used for all of my paintings, be it watercolours, watercolour pencils or acrylics. They are a mix of sable and synthetic and therefore a very versatile brush.

For my foliage on these, I am not painting on with big strokes, I am just kind of stippling. For this foliage I have used hookers green followed by a little bit of indigo and then a few daubs of yellow ochre here and there dropping one colour into the next.

For the roadway or track, I am stroking over very loosely with blue grey keep this light in colour, gentle little strokes followed by a little bit of light red now for the grasses either side, I have got mixture of hookers green, vivid green, yellow ochre and light red, get a few scribble bits of all these colours. Make a mess!

Notice I have left more of the light colours showing prior to wetting on the right hand side than on the left. I think we should have a little bit of indigo in these as well, good and strong.

There do you see what I mean by make a mess.

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Step 12 :

Now its time to wet it all. First I am using my ¾” wash brush to wet the track. This kind of merges the blue grey and light red together. Followed closely by stippling on with the ¾” wash brush onto the grassy bits either side of the path. Again stippling rather than painting on in solid blocks. This way you are leaving a few tiny touches of dry pencil here and there. It gives a little bit of sparkle to the whole thing. This needs to be solidly dry before I add the shadow.

For this I am again using my No 8 round brush but taking the colour off the pencil. I am painting on with a little bit of purple grey. I have got a little bit of shadow under the eaves of the house and a little bit coming down and across the road from the trees, which is then cast over to the right hand hedge.
You have to be fairly brave to do this kind of thing but it adds extra depth to the whole picture.
Step 13 :
Step 14 :

Finally just an old black biro to pull out a few squiggly lines here and there will add just that little bit more interest.