Friday 22 July 2011

Colour Sketchbook :: 2

A picture heavy post today.
Because the theme of our sketchbooks is "Close to Home" I've started by continuing with things from my garden as last year and as ever I'm drawn to the poppy seed heads that seem to be everywhere.

It is always their shape that seems so appealing and so I made some very simple outline drawings trying to capture their shape. One of the things I often hear when talking about sketchbooks is "But I can't draw". The beauty of these outline drawings is that you don't have to believe you are able to draw (although you all can draw really!) If you lack the confidence to draw the outline you can photograph your subject and trace the outline. It's not cheating... it's just arriving at the result a different way.

When you have a shape you are happy with, simply cut it out. If you are really not happy drawing you can keep things very simple and just cut geometric shapes such as circles and squares.

Then you position it on to one of the pages you have already coloured in your chosen colour. You are going to be using it as a stencil so you might want to use a small amount of spray mount to hold it in place. It is important to mention that my shape fills my page... it's not a small thing lurking in a corner!

I have then taken a white oil pastel, although if you don't have oil pastels you can get quite good results with wax crayons, (it is important that what you use is oily or waxy) and I have rubbed the pastel over the edges of the cut out shape. By using white, I am creating a tint of red (which happens to be pink) around my shape.

You need to rub it well into the page with your finger, blending it around the shape.

When  you are happy with what you have done, peel away the paper shape.

Now you need to take out the water colours you were using. I've used my old palette here because of the comments about my pristine new palette on the last post... as you can see they are well used.

 What I have done is mixed a darker red by adding some purple and I have painted over the area created by the oil pastel and then spread the colour out over the page. The oil pastel resists the watercolour and leaves a strong image.

I've also added some orange to some areas to give me a more orangey red and this is how you can add interest to your coloured pages. If we stuck to just a single colour it would soon get very boring so by creating tints, or using related colours it can make the page seem more dynamic.

When the whole thing was dry, I added some text using letter stamps. I quite like to annotate my sketchbooks but this is a matter of personal choice. Some times I just scribble a hand written note to remind me of something or it can be more contrived as in this case. Again, it just adds interest to the page. If you don't have letter stamps you could cut out letters from a magazine in a ransom note style.

One of the things I like to stress, is that if you have tried a technique and like the results, don't just do it once. Try it again with slightly different media or slightly different colours (still within the remit of your chosen colour though). In the one below I've used water soluble crayons in deep pink/purple shades over my stencil and then used a brush and clear water to blend them into the background.

I quite like the result but decided to cut away part of the page, again to create some additional interest, allowing a glimpse of the page below. I also emphasised the seed heads with some pencil shading...

Added some more text... and have arrived at quite a pleasing double page spread. 

Over the page, I repeated the exercise with the white oil pastel but I started with a white page rather than one I had previously coloured. This time I drew quite heavily into the shapes with a dark pencil. As the outline is already defined this is easier than it sounds.

And on the reverse of the cutout page I used a bronze oil pastel to rub over the stencil onto a previously coloured page. 

Which gives another double page spread... I'm not sure if I'm finished with this yet.

I hope you have fun trying out some of these ideas. Remember, experiment with different media and try each idea more than once... preferably several times. None of these exercise takes very long. And keep working into the pages until you are happy with the results. There will be more in the sketchbooks next week but I'll be back tomorrow as it's my blog birthday... there might just be a giveaway!


  1. I really love this little experimental post - I shall have to have a go- you have inspired me! thanks - Jo

  2. What a super post Gina. Your pages are so interesting and all the procedures sound straightforward. The results are stunning - I might even have a go myself!

  3. It is so tempting to forget my plans for the rest of today and go and draw the poppy heads on my windowsill! I can't bear to throw them out just yet. I love the bold use of colour.

  4. D'you know what, I think I could do that. I think the girls and I may have to have a go at this over the summer.

    Will email re dates - would love to meet up next week maybe?

  5. Ooh fabulous - I've got my first sketchbook page ready and waiting. I'm going to have a play this evening.

    I love your poppy seed heads. I might be playing with bracken or some montbretia. We'll see.

    This is really inspiring Gina and just what I needed :o)


  6. fascinating to see this develop Gina. the white crayon works to great effect.

  7. I wish I could find some poppy heads like that roumnd here, I have been looking for the last couple of weeks! Lovely pages Gina

  8. I love these - and I really like the red now that you've added some orange to it.

  9. Great tutorial - can't wait to try it - thank you so much, Gina!

  10. Your pages are lovely and you make it sound and look so easy.
    I really appreciate you doing this, it's very helpful.

  11. This looks like a lot of fun, Gina, and I love your results. Thanks for the inspiration!

  12. thanks for doing this, I loved playing with it last time and look forward to more fun.

  13. I always fail miserably with sketchbooks and LOVE other peoples, this has made me feel I should try again! Thanks...Penny xx

  14. Thank you so much for this Gina,it's far less scary the way you show it.Like Penny I think I might try again.

  15. Just posted my efforts on my blog Gina - thankyou so much for this exercise. I shall think about what to do next to my pages while I am being a good little housewife! Yuk!!

  16. Gina,
    Thank you for the inspirational instructions.

    You are a wonderful teacher.

  17. Came over from Heather's blog Gina - will just have to join in with this project. Just been looking at the last Sketchbook Project - just amazing!

  18. Thanks for such a brilliant post - my mind is swirling with idea's already. Your poppy heads are wonderful, I just adore their shape.

  19. My two favourite things - red and poppies ...super

  20. Lovely choice of colours. What has every 8 year old daughter got loads of? Crayons!! I am staying with my sister-in-law at the moment and guess what she has in the garden....poppy seed heads but there are also so marvellous purple thistles too which would work well I think.


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