Within this exercise you will use watercolour pencils to:
Make watercolour washes
Mix paint on the paper
Use sandpaper to make pencil shavings for texture
Create patterns on brickwork
Use small pencil strokes and various pencil marks to represent foliage
Work from light to dark using a set palette
You will also use a water spray bottle to apply most of the water to your paper, so you are not adding too much water.
What I would like you to learn from this exercise is how many colours you can make yourself using watercolour pencils. In my opinion, that is one of the main qualities of watercolour pencils. You can mix some of the most natural colours. But of course you have to practice that skill.
Make a graphite line drawing of the major shapes, a light sketch.
Work from the top of the photograph, use the side of a light blue pencil to shade in the sky colour. Wet the sky area with your water spray bottle. Use a large round headed brush to work the watercolour pencil into the paper, you do not want to see any lines left so your pencil pressure in the paper should be light. When the painting is near completion, this can always be adjusted if you think it is too light: better to start light than dark.
For the upper foliage: use a cadmium or lemon yellow first, that over paint with a light green, over paint that with a medium green and add some brown or red also. Lightly wet an appropriate sized brush and work the colour into the paper using an upwards brushstroke (rigger brush would be suitable). When that is 75%-100% you can add other colours to give that area further interest.
For the brickwork: you can use a wide palette of colour on this as brick and stone has so many different colours within its structure. Yellow, flesh tint, purple, brown and blue are the colours I used. Wet the paper (small areas at a time) and then score out marks with an old biro to suggest light (you should see parts of your yellow wash showing through). You can later on in the painting add a dark colour next to the yellow to suggest light and shadow.
The brickwork takes some time, do not try and rush painting this exercise! Pencil work takes time, it is far more labour intense than using paint.
The archway: part of this has no light present so you can use a very dark brown, charcoal colour or even black. I then used a white pencil to go over some of this dark area. I then wet the area and again scored out lines using my old biro. For the lawn through the archway: under paint with yellow and then two different greens. I lifted off some of the colour, so you have contrast between the lack of light under the arch and the bright light on the lawn.
The foliage to the right of the archway: yellow, greens, browns, reds use a range of colours. Spray water on to the area and mix some of the colours together as you work. You can impress draw lines to suggest light, whilst the paper is damp.
The pathway through the arch: pink, black, gray, blue are the colours that I used. I often mix these colours to a tertiary colour (mixed all together on the paper) with a small amount of water. When it is dry, increase the intensity of the black and do not rewet. You do not always want to wet your watercolour pencil work.
The foreground: Apply a layer of yellow or pink or flesh tint with the side of your pencil. Wet this with a brush and use sandpaper to make pencil shavings over the area, use a large piece of sandpaper. I used brown, yellow, blue. They will mingle/not mingle creating a fantastic impression of earth/stone/mud.
The fairy lights: I used a black watercolour pencil and pink for the lights, do not wet, on to dry paper.
Throughout this process you need to “stand back” as often as you can. Or indeed take a photograph on your mobile to evaluation your work as you progress. The painting in total took me seven hours to complete.
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