Sunset in watercolor with pen and ink. This is a quarter sheet of Arches 140 pound cold press paper, I juiced up the colors a bit. Click on the painting to see more detail.
Last week I discussed some of the intricacies of creating paintings with watercolor and pen and ink. This week I will go into more detail.
I always use top quality watercolor paper. This is at least 140 pound pure rag paper. I like Cold Press which has a little tooth. Some people like the Hot Press which is very smooth. Rough has a very rough texture and is a little difficult to draw on with a pen. Of course, heavier paper is fine. Lighter weight paper tends to buckle and is not so good for water media.
The paper is usually divided into quarter sheets (a full sheet is 20 x 30 inches) and is taped to a board. You can use a drawing board, heavy plywood, or some other heavy support. If I use a full sheet of paper, I “stretch” the paper and staple it to the board. It actually bends the ½ inch finish grade plywood that I use!
This is a demonstration of the steps I take for creating a small watercolor with pen and ink. I use this method for most of the fruits and vegetables which appear on my Etsy shop, my90acres. I divide this quarter sheet of watercolor paper into four rectangles of a little more than 4 x 6 inches with some space left between the squares.
I start out with a rough pencil sketch done with a #2 pencil. In the case of architectural elements, you may wish to add more detail but generally keep the sketch loose. You don’t want to get to the point of coloring in the sketch. Also, beware of erasing too much or of bruising your paper. This will mark you paper so that when you apply the watercolor, it will soak into the paper, leaving dark marks.
This is the painting of the Falls in plain watercolor before the pen and ink is applied. As you can see, it is a very nice painting and stands on its own merits. Reminds me somewhat of Winslow Homer.
Painting of the falls at Bald Mountain Tennessee. This watercolor has had the pen and ink applied to it. Check out the detail to see how loosely the ink part is done.
Close up view of the painting Falls at Bald Mountain. See how loosely the ink lines are drawn.
I always use Winsor Newton artist grade watercolors. I apply the paint starting from light to dark, making sure to keep the white areas free. I do not use any masking fluids. Try to paint in bigger strokes and not get too fussy. You may need to let the paint dry between layers.
These are the general tools that I use for my watercolor and pen and ink paintings. The large ruler (actually a quilting ruler) is what I use to lay out the painting squares. The small ruler is sometimes used where I need a straight line. Pencils and a plastic eraser, the platinum pen and two dip pens, India ink, carbon ink cartridges for the platinum pen, tape, either regular masking tape or painter’s tape.
Sketching with ink
At this point, you may decide not to apply any pen and ink. See the samples of the waterfall.
If I decide to apply some details with pen and ink, I do so very loosely. Do not try to add every detail. Let the viewer’s eye add the details.
For many years I used a dip quill pen #3 and plain old India ink. I like the bounce and variance of the lines. I would also buy the nibs in bulk because I like a sharp point.
Then I moved to some commercial pens. I like the Lamy Safari.
My current favorite is the Platinum Carbon Ink pen. It has great flow and the carbon ink is light-fast. It is also permanent and doesn’t seem to smear if you have to apply some more water media on top.
The real key is to draw with your whole arm, not just your fingers. Keep it very loose.
Arthur L. Guptill’s book Rendering in Pen and Ink. This is an old book but probably has the most extensive demonstrations for pen and ink.
One of the most beneficial books about Pen and Ink instruction is Arthur Guptill’s Rendering in Pen and Ink. Although a little dated, the information is very useful for technique.
So, this is my method of using watercolor with pen and ink. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or need more clarifications.
Also, check out some of my previous postings on this subject. Links listed below. Also, search for pen and ink for more demonstrations.
How to Combine Watercolor and Pen and Ink
Peonies en Plein Air