I set up this still life to explore using gouache with Inktense pencils. I wanted to work with both smooth and textured surfaces and a limited palette so I would not be distracted by lots of color choices. I put a small Christmas cactus on the table with a bright light coming down from above and then used gouache to put in the big shapes of the pot, saucer, plant, and light. After the gouache was well dried, I used a pencil to draw the outlines of the objects. Then with Inktense pencils, I put color on the cactus, the dirt, saucer, and foreground. After dissolving the pencil marks with a water brush, I went back with more gouache to add more light values to portions of the pot and saucer.
I appreciate the variety of marks that were possible but think the colors in the cactus might have been richer with just gouache. My favorite parts are the texture marks on the saucer.
I bought some Inktense pencils this morning and had to try them out. Inktense pencils combine qualities of traditional watercolor pencils and permanent markers. The pencil marks dissolve with water but once dry, the color is bright and durable. I wondered how the Inktense pencils might work with gouache. Of course it will take a lot of time to figure out how to work with these materials, but so far, this is what I think.
Inktense works well alone on black paper. Some portions of this sketch, such as the hair of the two women in the foreground, are drawn with Intense pencils and then the marks were lightly dissolved with a water brush. I like the strength of these marks and how easy it is to use.
I am less impressed with adding the Inktense pencils over areas that I first painted with gouache. After the gouache dried, I colored over it with the pencils and then remoistened the marks with a wet brush. I was heavy handed with the Inktense pencils in the tree and less so in the sky. To be fair, I was clumsy with the technique, but so far think I can get a better look with only gouache.
The little rain southern California gets in December can make for a spectacular spring in January and February and this year shows great promise. This morning when I was back at Torrey Pines, I was struck by how the coastal chaparral is already greening up. I wanted to capture the contrast between the still dormant plants and the new greens of some of the foliage.
Sometimes, less is more in a painting, as is the case with today’s painting. Yesterday I painted with a friend at the Los Peñasquitos Lagoon at Torrey Park, just north of San Diego. I finished one painting and posted it Monday.
I also brought home an unfinished one that I worked on today. You can see it below. It had the big shapes and colors blocked in but was still pretty rough and I hoped to fix several problems. However, by the time I finished, it looked overworked, which is a bigger problem than the ones I started with.
The fog had been rolling out to reveal the blue sky behind it, and I wanted to show that better. Also, I wanted the lagoon water to appear to be below the marsh plants, not above them. And then I loved my friend’s painting with its pine tree on the horizon, so I used a photo and added one to mine. Finally, I wanted more depth, so I put in some foliage along the lower left of the paper.
After making these changes, the painting looks flat and static. It lost its spontaneity and freshness, especially in the movement of the water and clouds. Knowing when to stop adding and refining is something to work on, as this sad tale so clearly shows.
I painted this morning at Los Peñasquitos Lagoon at Torrey Pines Preserve. We stood by the edge of the road and looked south across the water. I got the greens a bit too bright but with all the rain we are getting, by next week this will be about right.
We had a wonderful holiday and our house was full of family and fun. I did not do much sketching but we did make it to the beach twice where I was able to make several fast sketches while talking and people watching.