Monday, March 24, 2014

SKETCHBOOK: White Pen Demo!

I belong to a couple of online sketch groups..."Artist's Journal Workshop" and "Urban Sketchers Midwest" on Facebook.  Tonight, I decided to try doing a little sketch demo in response to some very nice compliments I received over the weekend for the drawing of the SPOONS in my last blog post.  I had several people ask me about the techniques I used...especially how I used the white Sharpie markers. While the drawing above is not my will get the job done for this tutorial.

Below is the set up I used at my kitchen table.  Usually I work in my studio, but I liked putting the knife and fork on the woodgrain.  The orange reflections in the shadows, the warm glow of the lamp...all helped to keep the silverware from looking too much like a black and white drawing.  You can also see my basic supplies that I use all the time when I sketch.
I rarely use pencils for an "under drawing", but sometimes I will to get the basic proportions laid out on the page.  I have spray-mounted some pastel paper into my sketchbook, as I enjoy working on toned paper.  After I did a very loose sketch with the 3B pencil, I dabbed it with a kneaded eraser, to take out most of the pencil line.
Then I used a #03 BLACK PRISMACOLOR felt tip marker to draw the contour lines of the knife and fork.  When the line work was done, I used the kneaded eraser again, to get rid of the pencil line.  I did not scrub very hard, as I didn't want to disturb the texture of the paper, or leave noticeable light areas.
Next comes the highlights with my new favorite friend...the WATER-BASED (poster paint) White SHARPIE marker.  This is the "extra fine" point.  I will not be leaving these marks as intense as they look at this stage. But I want to define the brightest areas before adding washes.
I do not consider myself a "watercolorist" really.  I prefer oils for my "fine art" paintings. But when I'm sketching...anything goes!  So technically...this is a "mixed-media" sketch.  Below you see that I am ready to add color now.  When I go out sketching, I carry several of the hollow-handle "water brushes". There are various manufacturers of them...mine are made by PENTEL and SAKURA.  My watercolor kit is a KOI Pocket Field Sketch Box (also made by SAKURA).
I began by laying in a rusty orange around the objects...basically the color of the wooden table. I then use a purply-brown for the shadows.  I will come back after these layers dry and punch the values of the shadows to a darker tone.  I then add some cool blues to the darker areas of the metal...then some purples on top.  These colors look brighter and more intense when wet...but remember that I am painting on a gray paper.  It will mute the colors as it dries.
I then add some of the warmer colors...golden for where the light hits...some oranges in the shadows that are closest to the table to pick up the reflected woodgrain.  These colors also knock back the very white lines from the Sharpie marker.
I then start to soften the transitions of the brightest highlights into the mid to darker tones of the metal.  I mix WHITE WATER COLOR with a few chosen colors.  Where things are really yellow, I mute those areas a bit with the cool aqua.  It's almost like painting with guache...but its very watered down, and is semi-transparent when dry.  If the reflections get too "cool"...I add white to orange, and lay that on top of the dulls both colors a bit, which helps.
Once the washes are completely dry, I come back in with the Sharpie marker again.  But I use it sparingly, and only for the brightest highlights.
The last stage is to go back into the black line to darken it up. Usually I just re-draw the outer-most line of the basic shape of the object. I let the other lines stay softer from the layers of paint. When I thought I was all done, I decided to add a little bit of some light gray to brighten up some highlights on the fork.
And here is the final sketch/painting with my models!  Hope this little demo helps you try some new techniques with your sketches!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014


Had a fun little surprise in the mail today...a couple of WHITE SHARPIE MARKERS arrived that I had ordered from

My friend, Joyce Harbin Cole, introduced me to these pens a couple of weeks ago, when I saw a cool sketch she had done on her blog ("Draw Daily"...Livingston County Courthouse).  So tonight, I did a little test page that you see above.  When I posted this on a couple of Facebook Sketcher Group pages, it lit up the boards with comments.  Apparently, lots of artists are looking for a good opaque white pen!

These are "water-based" (also called "poster paint") markers, but are permanent when dry, so they work well with my sketches and water color washes.  I'm excited to play with them more!  Thanks again, Joyce!

UPDATE 3-22-14 ---------------------------------------------
Here is a sketch that I just finished today of those same spoons shown above, using the "Extra Fine" point white Sharpie marker. I glazed washes over the white, to soften the brightness.  Then I added a little color mixed with white watercolor, to get some opaque tones into the highlighted areas. The tree sketch was done last weekend (with a little bit of the marker used on the highlights in the bark).  I love these markers!