Sunday, February 12, 2012


Two versions of a still life with apples, both done in my little watercolour sketch pad from Curry's.
For watercolour sketches and studies these little books are very handy, not as expensive as Arches' supreme papers, and a step above the many flimsy "student grade" pads.

Painting with the intent to only sketch somehow frees one's hand for greater ease in both the sketching and painting, and curiously so does using truly inferior non-watercolour paper. For example, the flip chart paper on which I sketched another apple composition in class, using watercolour pencils:
(bond paper in poor light, crinkled from the moisture of earlier paintings
on the pages that p
receded it),
On nicer paper I would have drawn more slowly and cautiously in order to preserve the delicate surface fibres. But on the flip-chart bond paper I quickly laid in a sketch with lots of pencil lines, which were then pared back to the essentials with a soft eraser. The first layer of colours was applied in cross-hatched strokes with Faber Castell watercolour pencils. Cadmium yellow made a unifying undercoat for all the apples . . .
. . . and the individual colours were built up from there - Golden Delicious, Honey Crisp and Granny Smith.
There are cupcakes in the background too, something sweet for Valentine's Day.
Not a bad outcome for plain old bond paper. The next step is to brush the watercolour pencil layers with water, just enough to brighten the colours. But it is not obligatory and would certainly crinkle this non-watercolour surface. I'm going to leave them alone for now, crisp and glossy.

Post-script, Feb 16: A final touch of water, just the least bit on a barely damp brush, brings up the rich hues hidden in the watercolour pencil pigments. Now that's glossy!


  1. I agree with everything you've said about the power of it can truly free up our creativity. Using a variety of papers and materials can also open new gateways.

    Your apples are so beautiful. I love the close ups in your Currys book, and the pencil still life captures a particular time and place beautifully. I would also let it remain in its pencilled state.

    Best wishes!

  2. Apples are so rewarding to paint and draw, thanks to their colour and shape and the shadows they cast - I like all three of these artworks, Frances and the different effects you have achieved. Have a good week. Lesley x

  3. Thank you for those kind word Frances! Apples can be be a rewarding study in colour and form. I started to add water to the bond paper version today, barely kissing the surface with a damp brush, and will add the final frame here when it is done. Watercolour pencil pigment lifts and moves around when wetted, which is fine when you want a loose, sketchy finish and a nuisance when you want a more precise, polished look.

  4. I have to paint some apples in an illustration soon. I am going to try the crosshatching you have shown here. It really gives a realistic effect. Those apples are just beautiful!