Mixed media experiment – tulip study in watercolor and colored pencil

I have some gorgeous red and yellow tulips in a vase this week. One of my very favorite flowers, I have always wanted to draw them, but get intimidated by the feathery red that blends into the yellow on the petals. I tend to use colored pencil and sometimes get too heavy-handed with it. I often end up with a muddy mix, rather than a delicate layering.

Clearly, I could practice just using a lighter touch and sharper pencils! However, today I wanted to try out a little mixed media technique and lay down a watercolor wash to give me some background on top of which to add pencil.

One of my retreat friends used this technique beautifully this weekend while painting a skunk cabbage in all of its maroon and cream glory. It reminded me that although I have not done much painting with watercolor, I could definitely use it as a base for a detailed colored pencil drawing, especially when layering very light colors with darker ones.

I started out with a light graphite pencil sketch to get the shapes. I have a small Windsor & Newton travel watercolor kit and used one of my travel watercolor brushes to grab a little bit of yellow and do a light wash on the petals. I also did the same with a light wash of green on the stem and leaves.


I painted on Fabriano Artistico Extra White hot press watercolor paper. I took some quick snapshots to show the process, but apologize for the poor quality of the photos! It should give you an idea of how I worked through the study, at least.

Next, I started adding in layers of colored pencil. I use Faber-Castell Polychromos pencils. For this particular study, I used dark red for the deepest shadows in the petals and layered deep scarlet red and pale geranium lake on top for the red sections. For the yellow, I added some shadows with light yellow ochre and dark naples ochre. I kept layering, attempting to capture the subtle texture of these silky petals.
 

 

  

I used light green, permanent green, may green, and pine green for the leaves and stem. 

As you can see below in the photo of my whole page, I did some test patches for each pencil before I used them to make sure I had the right colors. I need to do a color chart of all of my pencils to use as a reference! Those can be fun to make and good pencil practice – perhaps another blog post?


When I finished, I set the drawing aside for a few minutes and came back to it, darkening some shadows for definition and adding some highlights with my kneaded eraser. Here is the final. It’s a photo (couldn’t get the scan to look right) and even this doesn’t quite show the darker reds as much as the actual.


Overall, I really liked using a watercolor wash as a base. I have more practicing to do, but look forward to using this technique again. 
Do you use mixed media in your work? What combinations do you like and why?
Advertisements

5 comments

  1. Beautiful tulips you created!!!Coloured pencil over watercolour sounds all so tempting every once in a while, but somehow I am always annoyed by the feel the paper gets once it has been "watered": the tooth and overall haptic is slightly changed and I do not like that. Hhm.Coloured pencil is good though for enhancing the watercolour, which, for me, has to be somewhat "finished" already before the coloured pencils can come in for the last touch.Watercolour over graphite is another veeeery interesting topic, how are your experiences with that combination?

  2. Thanks, Julie! I did such little watercolor that I didn't notice much effect on the paper. I have not tried watercolor over graphite yet, but would love to! I have seen some work like this and it is a beautiful result. I'll have to post about it when I try it out!Carol

  3. Beautiful! I enjoyed seeing all the steps that lead to the final piece. I also enjoy using watercolor as a base. I find that marker and pen is also a nice alternative to layering on top of watercolor once it's completely dry, and it's well worth it! Great work!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s