Colorful Tree Study

Colorful Tree Study

I’ve been dabbling in mixed media today, trying to figure out a workflow that, well, works. Filling large areas with colored pencil is annoying, and doing details in watercolor can be a headache. So why not fill large areas with the watercolor and do the details with colored pencil in the same work? Then you can use the artist grade version of crayons and the paper texture to add interesting texture. The trick is figuring out which paper can handle what. Some don’t have enough tooth to grab much pencil, others cower at the mere sight of a wet brush and buckle hopelessly. (and stretching paper is a miserable affair in my experience) Then there’s the issue of which medium to start with and which to end, you can’t put the watercolor over the wax-based colored pencil, unless you want a wax-relief effect. You can’t put the watercolor over the water-soluble ‘crayons’, unless you want to erase the pretty texture. So what do you do? You draw a tree and play around for a while until you come up with a method you like.

Colorful Tree Study (23x30cm, 9x12in) Mixed Media on Paper

Colorful Tree Study (23x30cm, 9x12in) Mixed Media on Paper

What method did I come up with? Simple… liquid latex masking fluid on places I want to keep bright, then watercolor washes to fill in larger areas (if the paper can take it), followed by watercolor brush pens for smaller areas, add texture with the crayons, add details with colored pencils, and finally highlights with a bit of gouache. Got it? Good. Okay, not that simple, but easy enough to remember.

SInce this is mostly a study, there isn’t much to say about the scene or it’s meaning, but I did play around making the left side of the tree in shadow with cool darks and warm lights and then the right side of the tree is in light with mostly warm darks and cool lights. This was mainly to give myself a wider variety of colors to mess with, since I was trying to decide what brush marker and crayons were most useful and therefore deserving of draw near the table, and which ones can go in the cupboard until further notice.

In all I used Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pens, Zig Color Brush Twin pens, Staedtler Marsgraphic 3000 duo pens, Pentel Color Brush pens, Speedball brush pens, Derwent Artbar crayons, Staedtler Karat Aquarell crayons, Cretacolor Aquastic crayons, Prismacolor Premier colored pencils, Lyra Rembrandt Polycolor colored pencils, Derwent Coloursoft and Artist’s colored pencils, and Zellen Art Masking Fluid. The paper was a scrap, but it looks like Canson Ingres. Now you know why artist’s just say “Mixed Media”.

Knowing my luck I’ll come up with a beautiful technique and run out of some supplies halfway through a series of paintings, only to be unable to find replacements anywhere in South Africa. I think remember seeing Derwent Artbars at Jimnettes, though, so I’m safe there.


3 comments on “Colorful Tree Study
  1. TheArtistAnastasia says:

    Thanks. SItting down and working in a freshly set-up studio is a great way to figure out what’s missing. About halfway through I realized I hadn’t unpacked my pencil sharpener.

  2. Vanessa says:

    That is so beautiful!!! Love it!

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