Thursday, September 1, 2011

Video: Sketching a Donkey

In a recent post about sketching animals at the county fair, blog reader Tom Hart asked if I would post a video showing a real-time clip of the water-soluble pencil sketching technique.


So here you go, Tom. (video link) The idea with these pencils is to stay loose and light until you hit them with water, then come in and add more darks and detail once you've established the washes.


I'm using Caran d'Ache colored pencils and two Niji water brushes, one filled with Higgins Eternal ink, in a Moleskine watercolor sketchbook.
The music is performed by "The Hay Brigade (MySpace page)" and Haybrigade.com (where you can download their tunes). The tune is called "A Bowl of Bula" composed by Mark O'Connor. 
Previously: First Calf at the Fair
Christmas Donkeys
Donkey Portrait

26 comments:

J. R. Stremikis said...

what a recipe for success! such simple ingredients. so little time. you've whet curiosity and appetite - who could ask for more?
many thanks for the clarity/simplicity.

Janice Skivington said...

I really enjoyed this drawing demonstration, And the great music. Thanks to you, I sketch with watercolor pencils often, now that I've seen what you can do with them. And now I will look about for a Niji water brush to carry about with my supplies. The last time I sketched while traveling and decided to add color I forgot to pack a brush and had to settle for a q-tip and paper towel.

Steve said...

Thanks to Tom for requesting this, thanks to Jim for demonstrating, and thanks to Hay Brigade for putting a tune in my head for the morning! You've told us before, but I forget; what's the ink in the other waterbrush? It seems watersoluble.

James Gurney said...

Thanks, everybody! Steve, that black gold is Higgins Eternal (linked at the end of the post). Because it's watersoluble, that ink can be dissolved after it dries, and it doesn't wreck the brush. I've also used various kinds of water-soluble brown inks in the brushes. Has anyone tried India inks in a water brush?

J. R. Stremikis said...

Jim - have wrecked water brushes and fine fountain pens with India inks. no joy.
What brown/sepia inks do you like/have you had/success with? (in the water brush).
At the moment, using Conté sketching crayons - sanguine and bistre - dissolving for use in the Niji water brush. not concentrated enough.
On a quest for a bistre that will de-grade or granulate out of the water brush.
Supracolor II pencils are just excellent. esp. bistre.
Derwent Inktense blocks are very nice, but too permanent.

ideas?

James Gurney said...

J. R. I've used mainly the Higgins sepia fountain pen ink, and also the Waterman brown ink, which has a reddish cast to it.

There are other small manufacturers of sepia inks, and as long as they say they're for fountain pens, they're safe in a water brush.

Orlando "O2" Medeiros said...

It's amazing to see how assured your strokes look. I can only imagine how many times you said "whoops!" while perfecting that technique! (Probably not as many as I would have!)

It's very interesting to see just how different this technique looks, compared to drawing with normal pencils. Do you think you could one day make a video of a plain pencil and paper real-time sketch?

Personally, I have a very hard time establishing the basic pose and composition on a picture, by the time I'm finishing placing my first lines, the idea I had is gone already. I love watching videos of great artists sketching because I can sort of see their reasoning, where their eyes go to, and how their hand follows, as they draw. It really is fascinating!

But I digress! It was a thoroughly informative video, and the music was enjoyable as well! Thank you so much, Mr. Gurney!

James Gurney said...

Thanks, Orlando--I'll try to do more real-time videos. By the way, I just wrote an article called "Portable Portraits" for American Artist's upcoming fall "Watercolor" special issue. My article goes into all the techniques and materials--and the mindset, especially for doing impromptu portraits.

As you say, Orlando, "Whoops" or "Darn" (or something more colorful) is definitely something you'd hear a lot if you were sitting next to me.

Michael said...

Is that a sitting stool sticking out of your backpack? I tried a number and the Walkstool Comfort from Walkstool.com is by far my favorite! : )

Tom Hart said...

This is fantastic James! Thanks so much for taking the time. I'm glad to see others have enjoyed it as much as I (though that's no surprise).

It's interesting to see how much the donkey was in motion while you sketched. A good reminder of the importance of visual memory - and how sketching moving subjects helps to develop that.

The only thing more I could ask for would be a regular PBS show of you and your work. :^)

My Pen Name said...

noodler's ink is supposed to be the most forge-proof ink around, and its
http://noodlersink.com/
it (i think) is water solouable until it bonds with the paper
from their site "The waterproof/fraud proof line (currently black only) cannot be altered on a check or envelope by rain or bleach/ammonia. They consist of over 97% water content…and rinse (or simply rub) off lucite/celluloid/acrylic rod stock testing and ebonite testing stock…and if dried in the bottle it can be reconstituted with tap water…"

I have tried this in a waterman phielas (sp?) pen and it worked fine on one, on the other pen, I had have to push the ink a little (a newer nib?) but goulet pens sells a noodler's pen which works great with their ink.
the ink is pretty cheap too.

Gardenart said...

That was so helpful! Thank you so much for sharing that. Alice

Daroo said...

This video has a great look -- what did you shoot it on?

I especially liked how you put on on the ink pretty wetly and then switched to the water pen to grade it down around the donkey.

Eric Haddad said...

Thank you for the demonstration! This was a very informative post.

Lately, I can't decide if it would be better to learn what supplies and techniques other artists use or if I should just experiment and learn from my own mistakes.

James Gurney said...

Eric, I'd say just get a few pencils and pens that you've seen others use and give them a try. You'll know you've found the one for you when you're not thinking about technique anymore, just about the subject.

Daroo, I was using a Canon Vixia HD camera on a tripod, edited in iMovie.

My Pen, thanks for those tips. I'd like to try them.

Kate (Cathy Johnson) said...

James, what a HOOT, thanks for sharing! I treasure your first book from 1988, was it?

You really brought that little donkey to life!

Kate (Cathy Johnson) said...

And by the way, Platinum Carbon Black ink works pretty well in a fountain pen, as does Platinum Pigment Sepia. Ought to work in a waterbrush, too! (And if not, you're out $7, not too bad, considering...)

Mary Byrom said...

Jim, I love this! Thanks for making this. Great shots and nice models. The barn yard sounds are great and watching you on location is fab! Been there, done this - its fun.

Cindy Skillman said...

Love the donkey -- great help with the watercolor techniques, too. But I adore the music. What is it?

Eric Haddad said...

Oh wow. That's a fantastic way to think about it! Thank you very much.

parisdreamtime.com said...

Thank you James, and thanks to the donkey, this was so nice to watch and for sharing the technique with the water brush, which is great, thanks for sharing! Andrea

Les said...

James, that was a great post! And, thanks to you, your son's "The Hay Brigade" made another sale. I am enjoying their album even as I post this. I agree with their liner notes, what great instrumentation.

Eileen said...

Wonderful. Thank you. Great idea. Great demonstration.

Walter Wick said...

This video and the resulting sketch makes my day. This beats Robert Hughes pontificating about slowness by a mile, though I respect the speed with which you accomplish this is a result of years of practice, including many long slow days and nights. Ok, maybe this little sketch will never be placed in a massive gold frame, but there is so much pleasure to be found everywhere the pencil touches the paper. One reason is that it's so small that we see the whole image and the forensic detail of the pencil lines in the same instant.

Katie said...

Thank you for sharing this! I'm self taught and I love seeing new ways to do things. I like how loose and yet confident you were in each of your strokes. I agree with another commenter: a PBS show would be amazing!

Marc McCabe said...

very enjoyable to watch you paint :D I also really liked the music, I recentely started learning the fiddle and have a new appreciation for it haha