Stepping Through My Sketching Process

Patrick Ng presented one of his sketches by showing us all the stages of development in a series of posts in the Facebook group, Artist Journal Workshop.  I thought that was a great idea and so I’m going to do that here.  Click on the photo to get a larger image.

On Location PhotoFirst stage occurred on a hot day, in front of the Quebec City train station.  I decided to draw a building that sits at 363 Rue St. Paul, partly because it was a great subject and partly because there was a shady spot where I could sit.  I didn’t quite get the drawing done in that first session as it still lacked the foliage, though that had been penciled in early in the process so I’d know what parts of the building would be covered by leaves.

B&W sketch

Once I finished adding the foliage and touching up a few of the details it looked like this.  I did this at home.

I decided to add shading with early morning sun as I thought it would be better than the mid-day sun I had when I did the sketch.  So, I went back to the site, plunked myself on my Walkstool and went to work.

Toned sketchI now use a small chunk of 8B Derwent Graphitone pencil, stuck in a half-pan, for my basic shading.  This has some interesting virtues.  First, I can use it just like a cake of watercolor, using a brush to pick up pigment and mix up washes of any density I need.  Second, it’s much smaller and lighter than the dilute india ink solutions I was carrying for this purpose.  AND, the important thing is that once Graphitone been exposed to water and then dries, it won’t mix with watercolors I put over it.   The end result of this stage sometimes causes me to wonder whether I need color at all.  This may be because I’m not all that versed in or experienced with watercolor (grin).

I like color, though, so I broke out my W&N watercolors and applied a moderate amount of color to the sketch.

I used a Pilot Prera fountain pen with Noodler’s Lexington Gray ink to do this sketch.  In my opinion, the techniques are made possible, or at least easier, because of the fantastic, double-sized papers of the Stillman & Birn sketchbooks I use.  I can’t say enough good things about them.   If you find these sorts of posts useful, let me know and I’ll do more of them.

Cheers — Larry

8 thoughts on “Stepping Through My Sketching Process

  1. Great development Larry. And so glad you got featured in Stillman! And u are so kind to mention me even though u didn’t have to. Thanks! =]

  2. Thank, Patrick, and it WAS your idea, afterall. Thanks also for the heads up no the Stillman feature. I didn’t know they’d done that. Pretty cool!

    Cheers — Larry

  3. This was very helpful, Larry. Thank you so much for doing this. I really need to get some of the Derwent Graphitone pencils.

  4. If you do watercolors, you need only one, the 8B. For what it’s worth, I haven’t found them very useful as pencils. When applied as a pencil they don’t wash nearly as well and appear very grainy.

    Cheers — Larry

  5. I find posts like this extremely helpful and think it’s great those who take time to do so!! Scenes like this intimidate me but I always admire other people creating them and sit there wishing I could too. All those lines, angles, etc! I do better with old wonky run-down looking buildings out in the middle of no where as it doesn’t matter if it’s “off”. I learned yet another new piece of information with regards to the pencil. Thank you for sharing this!!!

  6. Susan, I’ve seen your work and, as the old song says, “Anything I can do, you can do better” 🙂 But here’s the secret. Come on, lean in. I don’t want everyone to know this. It doesn’t matter any more with fancy gabled buildings than it does with ‘wonky buildings.’ In fact, perfect lines and angles bring a stiffness to the drawing. I used to fret over it horribly until I realized this.

    Cheers — Larry

  7. Yes, I love interesting posts like this, so sure do more. Always like to know what supplies others are using and why so I appreciate you noting this. I’m a newbie for watercolors and am just getting started sketching in public (EEK)…. so used to working alone in my studio kind of thing. Have you ever tried Pam Carriker’s liquid graphite pencil by Derivan. Rewettable and permanent. Got it to use in mixed media work and with portraits, would probably be cool with watercolors. May have to experiment.

  8. I was scared to death the first time I went out in public to sketch. But you know what? It’s no big deal. Most people ignore you, some admire you, and the masses that think I’m a terrible artist simply walk on by and don’t say anything. I now find the short dialogs I have with people to be a bonus, not something to fear.

    I don’t know the liquid graphite pencil you mentioned but it sounds like a similar pigment to what’s in the Graphitone pencils. I think I’d prefer the Graphitone, however, as I use them more like a pan of watercolors than as a pencil. I do my actual drawing with a fountain pen.

    Cheers — Larry

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