Mimi enjoys the warmth of the sun on her one side, and the reflection of it from the cabinet on her other.
I really liked this as an ink sketch and almost left it with just Mimi, but when I had looked at Mimi in this very spot I envisioned an ink drawing with watercolor washes. I began the sketch on watercolor paper, and so I finished it. I like it just as much.
This has both deep shadows and bright highlights, and both direct and reflected light, a challenge for me in ink, for sure! But while Mimi did move her head to face front, look up at me and look behind herself, she sat for long enough for me to get the light and shadow on her torso sketched in with pen, then a bit of watercolor pencil scribbled on top.
When I begin with a new medium I often visualize in it for days as I grow accustomed to it, so I’m not surprised to have two sketches in a row in the same medium and style, after yesterday’s Kelly on the Windowsill. I am growing accustomed to these watercolor pencils, though I think I’m going to allow myself a wider brush than the No. 4 round to see how it dissolves and spreads the paint from my sketchy pencil lines.
I absolutely love drawing in ink, though I’m constantly disappointed in the pens I can get now, the marker style. They are so easy to use, but I seem to wear the tip dry and need to give it a break every minute or so, and I don’t like to stop in the middle of a sketch to wait for the pen to resaturate. I solved it here by having several pens on hand in the same sizes. I have various fountain-style technical pens but I don’t leave ink in them and I don’t think Mimi would sit still while I run upstairs and fill one or two. I also have dip-style pen nibs and bottles of ink, but that has its challenges outside of my studio. I’m going to find one of the fountain-style drawing pens I had looked into years ago, though the drawback of those is that sometimes the ink doesn’t dry quickly enough to watercolor on top of right away, as I do here.
Kelly enjoys the sun on her back on the bathroom windowsill, and also likely the reflected heat from the deck roof, just below. It’s not all that warm, but just warm enough to have the windows open in mid-afternoon. The pussy willow is right outside the window and the dappled leaves were charming, and the blue sky beyond.
Another combination of media that I enjoy, ink and watercolor. In this case I did the ink sketch first, then scribbled into it with watercolor pencil. The watercolor pencil is a two-part technique, first the drawing, then the watering. In this case I knew I’d want to leave some of my sketching lines and in other cases I wanted to obliterate them.
In other cases, such as the sky and the wall beneath her, I wanted both and I was very pleased with what happened when I just brushed a water-filled brush over my lines. I could achieve a multitude of techniques this way, with just random washes in the sky where I used the brush on its side, but patterned washes in the shadow on the wall where I used the tip of the brush (that’s a white sable no. 4 round, students, you know who you are) in straight parallel lines running through the angled watercolor pencil lines in green and blue.
This is the first time I’ve used this new set of watercolor pencils, Prismacolor 12-color set water-soluble colored pencils. The Derwent set had an excellent reputation, but I found them to be kind of weak in color, especially the darks, once I got the washes on it. I had also used them for a huge illustration for a sign I just finished and had to go over and over areas in order to get them as dark as I wanted, which took away from the feeling of freehand sketching.
In the Prismacolor set, the colors dissolved and blended easily though I’m not sure why the dark green in the leaves did not; it did where I used it in Kelly’s shadows. I had wanted to brush the two greens together to look more random and leafy.
I should have done some color test swatches with the pencils before I began to be sure what shades they would end up. The sky and the shadow on the windowsill behind Kelly are two different shades of blue, but they certainly don’t look like it and kind of blend together.
But so far, I like this set much better than the other two.
The colors don’t correspond to anything, I was just visualizing him this way while I watched him bathe. I did the simple charcoal sketch first, thinking I might just stop at that, but kept seeing the greens and blues and that yellow in this kind of rubbed-in style where the colors are blended together and you can see my swirled fingerprints. It is literally rubbed into the paper (except for what’s on my hands, my desk, Jelly Bean…) so that it loses the character of pastel and looks more like paint.
After I rubbed it in I retraced the sketch to hold the shape. For a while in my early experimentations as an artist I outlined everything, nothing looked complete until it had a black outline on it, and I still like the look of it now and then.
Then he needed to be somewhere so I added the pink and purple and tan in vague angled strokes to indicate vertical and horizontal planes. If I were to work on this yet more, which I might, I’d work orange and burnt orange into the pink, blue into the purple, and light pink into the tan, and rub them in like the blues and greens and yellows.
The drawing paper I use is fairly sturdy and though smooth has a little tooth to it, enough to hold a layer of chalk pastel though I could never add more layers and blend like Kelly in Warm Colors—that is drawn on paper with enough tooth and texture to hold lots of pastel.
I just love their baths, I love the shapes they make, the curves and the overall simplicity of their form, and I also love Mr. Sunshine’s completely relaxed tail and the details of his angled ears, his toes and whiskers.
Kelly is having a good bath in the sun while shadows and reflections fall all around her from the light streaming in the window. In the strong light she was in silhouette but highlighted by the light on her fur. What better than the depth of charcoal and the strong natural red of conté? A quick outline was all I got before she decided I should feed her and she left her bath and came to me, purring. I finished the rest from memory.
Wish I’d grabbed my pastels before I saw her and ran back to my desk where I keep my art materials. I had headed into the kitchen for a lemonade and found her happily bathing in the sun. Often, the sun falls the same way and they will spend a few days in a certain pattern. Perhaps I can catch her another day.