Working with saturated color can be a process of translation. This sketch kicks up the clarity of every muted or chromatic gray with a relatively balanced translation of the original arrangement. Choosing materials that lend themselves to this kind of sketching is key. Here I use CARAN D’ACHE Neocolor 2 crayons and Supracolor Soft Watercolor pencils in a STILLMAN & BIRN BETA MULTI-MEDIA JOURNAL.
NEOCOLOR II WAX PASTELS
These crayons have a water-soluble wax base. Highly pigmented, they can be instantly liquified with a touch of water. You can sharpen them with a simple plastic pencil sharpener if a finer line is needed.
I use them both wet and dry to pull up the image. A good paper for this activity needs to be suited for multi-media work in order to draw dry on a wet surface. You can use techniques like brush lifting and scrubbing out to modify selected areas. Most watercolor papers are too soft for this kind of thing unless you use a very heavyweight surface. The BETA JOURNAL breaks up the crayon slightly when dry and facilitates an even wash when wet.
If you feel the need to ‘fix’ the image, there are many good workable fixatives on the market. I avoid exposure to solvents and simply place a sheet of glassine paper in my journal over these drawings. A hot car in the South will make a wax based medium eager to smudge very slightly.
SUPRACOLOR SOFT WATERCOLOR PENCILS
These tools are great to add details and provide hard edges. Although a dry NEOCOLOR 2 crayon has a waxy feel, I have been able to draw on top with a SUPRACOLOR PENCIL by dipping the tip in water and drawing wet on dry. These are excellent to use for initial roughs: the lines can be lost or found through the use of water or brush lifting.
These materials would be perfect for plein air sketching for several reasons:
1. LEAVE THE BAGGAGE AT THE AIRPORT: You are not loaded down like a pack mule for the sketching session. I think there is a definite connection between how much stuff one drags along and how many sketches one is able to produce. Do you want to be your own bellhop, or do you want to make some sketches?
2. LIMIT THE PALETTE: I never ever bring all the colors in my bag. Usually I bring 6 Neocolor crayons and 6 Supracolor pencils, so there is palette of 12 colors. One pencil case can carry it all, though I like to keep the crayons in the metal case or in pastel box to guard against breakage.
3. YOU CAN PAINT AND DRAW: Sketching on location is a ‘fly by the seat of your paints’ proposition. These tools give you versatility and acknowledge that the goal is to be in the moment and be responsive to the setting. Everything else is gravy. Even a long session of sketching ( an hour or more ) will have a better result when the focus is narrow and the means are limited.
4. THE STILLMAN & BIRN BETA JOURNAL IS DESIGNED FOR MULTI-MEDIA USE: I like a journal that can be held in hand easily. I also like the option of working across the gutter. The binding is excellent so you will not worry about pages coming loose once water hits the paper. There is no ‘show-through’ to the opposing side of the paper so you can work the ENTIRE BOOK and paint on every single page.