Thursday, June 5, 2008

Water-Soluble Pencil

There are several makers of water-soluble pencils. This one is called a “Derwent Inktense/Ink Black” and it gives you a rich, intense black when blended with water.

I used a Kuretake brushpen to deliver the water. It has a hollow plastic handle that you can fill with water. I worked back and forth with the water and the pencil, adding lines over wet washes or washes over lines, working my way from lighter to darker washes.

I used another brushpen with colored ink for a few spots of color. These tools fit easily in a pocket, and they’re convenient if you happen to be in a museum or a classroom and you don’t want to break out a whole watercolor set.

My subject is Keith Gunderson, a dedicated plein air painter and teacher, whose website is called “Classic Realism.


Justin said...


Last time I tried to use a brushpen in a museum (SAM in Seattle) I got in trouble. So did a girl writing on a notepad with a tiny little bic pen.

Michael said...

I totally need to get one of those.

Unfortunately, a lot of museums are like that. I can understand why they don't want potentially art-ruining substances inside or close to the paintings. BUT, some definitely take it to an extreme. The University Art Museum at my former university for example. They literally watch people like they are criminals which makes the experience quite unusual. I think there's a good balance between protecting the items on display and allowing people to enjoy the experience. Even designating a space where people can draw or paint if they wish.

dragonladych said...

Hey that's cool I am not the only one who uses one of these brushes with water instead of the ink. Next time someone finds this odd, I can tell them you do it too!

Thi N said...

I love water-soluble pencils... I use almost exactly this setup: water-soluble pencil, waterbrush, waterbrush with ink.

I actually got a little obsessed and tried pretty much all the watersoluble products out there. Some are formulated to act a lot like watercolor, like Caran D'ache's line and Faber Castell's line. Derwent makes watercolor ones too. But my very favorites are Derwent's two oddball watersoluble lines - the Inktenses you have here, and their Graphitints. Inktense is watersoluble ink, and Graphitint is watersoluble colored graphite. Both are a little are a little... denser and stickier than normal watercolor pencils, and they look... different. They don't tend towards transparent and pretty. Inktense tends towards brilliant and opaque, and Graphitint tends towards warm, streaky, glowing.

Oh - Caran D'ache makes a non-colored watersoluble graphite pencil that's pretty nifty, too. Very fluid, and very easy to push around on the paper.

(Brand variance between for watersoluble stuff seems to be much higher here than between artist-grade paints... they really handle differently. Mostly in how quickly they pick up, liquify, push around...)

Thi N said...

Other favorite sketching combo: 1 waterbrush, 1 old Altoids tin with little dried blobs of watercolor and goauche.

Raluca C said...

Nice portrait!I never used this soluble pencils,but I would for sure give it a try!Ha,ha:is the first time I see this company name:''Caran D´ache''-french look like,with pedigree:))but for the ones who know russian the word game is clear:''Carandash''-mean 'pencil' in russian:))clever set up!!!I must agree with Michael:I understand why museums security are always in allert,restauration is an expensive process and some damages may never be restaured,but on the other hand a space for drawing may be a great initiative!Hopefully some custodes are visiting your site,James!

Anthony VanArsdale said...

I'm so glad I found your site!!! Your studio tips and studies are of inestimable value to me (I haven't had much formal art training myself) I'll be visiting your blog frequently :)


P.S. I have an autographed print of "The World of Dinosaurs." It's one of my most coveted possessions.

Spencer Cook said...

Are you sure thats a Kuretake and not a nigi waterbrush? I've been looking into a brush pen myself, but the Kuretake is just so expensive. Nice sketch!

Mark Behm said...

I'm curious if you can erase through any of these to pick out lights? My guess would be no, as the water must drive the pigment pretty deep into the fibres. Anyone tried?

Stephen James. said...

I've tried General's sketch and wash as well as Prismacolors water color pencils I like em both.