Markham Group of Artists – Pen and Watercolour

I spent Wednesday with members of the Markham Group of Artists. The occasion was a one-day workshop using pen with watercolour. Our subject matter was a small figurine of a bear. I have a whole herd of them so each artist had their own bear to draw.

We completed four steps. The first step was the pencil drawing and I haven’t shown it here but you can see some evidence of it in the sheet on the left. I like to draw with a soft pencil (B, 2B) and, initially, I use only straight lines to ‘block in’ the basic shapes and proportions. Then, I refine the drawing. The straight lines are my guidelines as I describe the curves and forms of the bear. I draw very little detail and absolutely no texture with my pencil. That comes later with the pen.

Step One of Pen and Watercolour Demonstration by Barry Coombs - MGA26/9/2012  Step Two of Pen and Watercolour Demonstration by Barry Coombs - MGA26/9/2012

Step Three of Pen and Watercolour Demonstration by Barry Coombs - MGA26/9/2012

The sheet on the left shows a grey wash of a single value over the pencil drawing. The mini-bear in the bottom right corner was a simplification of the planes and forms of the bear and helped to understand the light direction and shadows.

The second sheet shows local colour on the bear. The first, grey wash was completely dry before I gently added the colour. Some paper white has been avoided and acts as highlights.

The final sheet shows the pen work. I’ve used hatching (parallel strokes), a bit of stippling (dots, basically) and line weight (thin and thick lines) in the piece. Once again, I waited for the washes to dry before working with the pen.

I’d like to recommend an artist from England who uses this approach very successfully. His name is Keith Palmer and his work may be viewed on his excellent blog at north pennine gallery. Keith applies the approach to many different subjects, including townscapes, people and the rural countryside.

Thanks for having me, MGA. I think everyone would have liked a bit more time with the pen but the bears all look great. Also, working with the pen and watercolour combination is very enjoyable and highly addictive. I hope the workshop will inspire all of you to try it in your own studios.

Critique - MGA26/9/2012

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6 Responses to “Markham Group of Artists – Pen and Watercolour”

  1. Lois Says:

    very nice…
    What paper do you use for this Method..
    Thanks, Lois

  2. sally Says:

    This was a very well planned and timed workshop. I have never tried ink pen drawing before and enjoyed the whole day.

  3. lindahalcombfineart Says:

    Great idea for a workshop. Interesting demo and thank you for mentioning Keith’s blog. I don’t think he realizes how talented he is.

  4. Soah Says:

    Thank you for an amazing workshop, Barry. I learned so much! The steps you introduced were clear and your demonstrations helped me to understand the process. Your one-on-one feedback and comments valuable and so helpful!

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