The Cactus Country in Watercolor Pencils
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Nature Works Press
Wouldn't it be nice, sometimes, to have an experienced art instructor come to your studio (or your living room or kitchen table ~ wherever you do your art) and show you exactly how to research, prepare for, choose your colors, and paint a specific picture. Maybe even show you how to use that waterbrush that's been gathering dust in your supply drawer ~ how to fill it, how to hold it, and how to apply the point to get the exact effect you've been trying for?
With tutorials for twelve different scenes ~ from the hike up the desert wash to the finished watercolor pencil painting (well, you'll have to find your own desert wash, I suppose, but at least photos are provided for these) ~ you can paint the exact picture Irene painted, using her sketch to practice on, or drawing your own if you prefer.
Step-by-step you'll be carefully escorted through the maze of:
which watercolor pencils to use
what techniques and colors work best and why
how to get smooth or textured effects when adding water
how to show things distant and close-up
how to make your subject appear three-dimensional
using photos as either main sources or as additional guides
using a ballpoint pen as your main sketching tool
and a lot of other useful tips to help you feel comfortable with coloring the sketches in your own sketchbooks.
This workbook is also useful if you've tried watercolor pencils already but aren't sure how to move ahead. Or perhaps you would like to improve your skills in coloring flowers, animals with fur, foliage, and many other subjects.
Each sketchbook page is accompanied by a tutorial of three to five pages. Every section starts with my photos of the subject and its surroundings so you can visualize the challenge. For the Cholla's five pages, I began the tutorial instructions with drawing tips then continued on the following pages with watercolor pencil advice (the other tutorials cover only watercolor painting aspects).
The third of the five pages (shown above) discusses adding shadows to make the cactus look 3-dimensional. The remaining two pages continue the instruction.
The cottontail and thrasher tutorial is only three pages long, beginning (as they all do) with a page showing the sketch before and after color was added. If you print out that page on heavy paper, you can actually paint right on the lower image (like a coloring book page), applying colors to it as you follow the tutorial. The finished painting is at the top so that you can see your final goal as you work.
The center and right hand images above show the step-by-step progress of the page, including all the watercolor pencils I used to paint it.
This book has seven heavily illustrated pages of introduction discussing: how to use a waterbrush, selecting appropriate colors, dealing with white areas, various ways to apply the pencil and brush strokes, finding the right sketchbook and drawing tools, testing your colors before you begin applying them, and setting goals for your progress.
There is even a tutorial on how (and why) to hold and use your waterbrush to get exactly the effect you need, from solid color with clean, sharp edges to gradual fading from intense color to white, with easy-to-follow instructions.