Now being in a position with no commitments, it is time to press on with two projects that use different underpainting techniques.
First up was the watercolour donkey. Having started it by using the watercolour pencils dry I then plucked up the courage to apply the water and was pleased with the results. A bit splodgy in places but it did sink the pigment into the tooth of the paper. In some places, I was a bit timid but in other places a bit too bold. I definitely splodged a bit too much between the Donkey’s nostrils!
I then swithered whether to continue using the watercolour pencils dry to add the detail on top or to use the oil-based Polychromous pencils. In the end, I chose Polychromous pencils.
As I progressed, I was pleased with the depth of colour in the Donkey’s fur. My conclusion is that there is definite potential in using watercolour pencils for this type of artwork. I will definitely be using this technique again.
Reference image for Donkey and guidance on technique came from Lisa Ann Watkins Art by Law Patreon channel. https://www.patreon.com/LisaAnnWatkins
The Lion underpainting was done using pan pastels but drawing him on a sienna coloured surface reminded me of the colouration of a tiger. Unfortunately, the Sienna coloured paper was what I had.
Initially, I had to contend with comments that I was drawing a “liger”. Through the perseverance with colour pencils, he is thankfully evolving into more of a lion than a tiger.
At this stage, for the underpainting, my preference is to use the watercolour pencils and reserve the pan pastels for backgrounds and other textures such as the wooden fence rail in the Donkey piece.
The lion image came from a collection of images from Jason Morgan. http://www.jasonmorgan.co.uk/artists-reference-photos.html
Both pieces still require a bit of work before they could be regarded as finished. The Donkey is a nose short of completion and the Lion still requires a lot of layers!
Therefore lots to do!
Having looked out a picture of an otter that I started on velour using pastels, I decided to finish it. It was quite a job completing it, but I did. It has turned out all right.
I have also completed a Rhino on Pastelmat board using pan pastels and color pencils. Based on these two experiences I have now developed a couple of preferences.
Portrait of an Otter emerging from the water
Head portrait of a Rhino
Giraffe:- Source image from Jason Morgan
Pan pastels with pastel pencils and charcoal
The first is that I definitely prefer using color pencils. I forgot how dusty the pastels were. Color pencils are much cleaner and convenient to use particularly when traveling and because of this, I have tended to use these the most. The artist-grade pencils that I use have good light resistance properties and therefore I am confident that any work produced will last a long time before fading.
The one disadvantage is that you need a lot of the pigment in a pencil to cover a large area, therefore, pencils do wear down quite quickly but this can be overcome by using pan pastels for the underpainting and for backgrounds. Pan pastels are pan shaped containers that contain professional grade pastel pigment.
Therefore my second preference is to use pan pastels more as they don’t produce as much dust as ordinary pastels and can be blended quite easily. This property makes them great for backgrounds. They are also good for building up the base colors of a drawing with the color pencils being used to create the surface details. The picture of the Rhino has an underpainting of pan pastel.
As for the best surface to draw on… well I have not come up with a definite favorite. I won’t rule out using velour in the future for the occasional pastel piece but I will need to do further research into the best way to use it. For my current work in color pencil, the Pastelmat board is good for building up a lot of layers and incorporating a lot of detail. But, it will not suit all occasions. I have tried other papers including a number of watercolor papers with some success. The Giraffe was done on a watercolor paper and that worked quite well but I feel it could have done with some more layers to give it depth. On the plus side, pleasing results can still be achieved without wearing out your pencils too quickly.
For now, Pastelmat is the surface of choice but that will be under constant review as I become aware of new options.