Anyone remember painting pencils?

raglan w_col2Ok, I’m showing my age now, but when I was a kid, the ultimate TV art guru was Tony Hart. Unlike the frenetic, brash “Art Attack” which came later, Tony Hart was a gentle old soul, who with a flick of a paintbrush or felt tip pen, could turn a black sheet of paper into a masterpiece. Tony Hart was my hero. I had a set of Tony Hart “painting pencils”. They looked and worked like ordinary coloured pencils, but when you applied water, would turn into watercolour paint. Last year, I found some very similar pencils in a art shop, but sadly without Tony’s smiling face on the box.

I’ve become a big fan of the work of Arthur Rackham for some time, but only recently have raglan castle 2started to take a good look at why I like his illustrations so much. Unlike many other artists that work in watercolour, his work has a really dark edge to it. I’ve tried to get that sort of impression with my later pen and ink sketches, but felt as though they were still somewhat tentative.

I realised that he used much more ink than I do, and the contrast it provides allows the colour itself to be more delicate without looking bland. I had a free morning and some pen and ink sketches that I had been to cowardly to work on, so I dug them out.

The first thing I did was to toughen up the drawing tree in Tinternwith more ink, put down with a brush. And then I got busy with the painting pencils, having a good old scribble. I felt as though I was 6 years old again and making a mess of my colouring books.

Unlike conventional watercolour, the colours seemed to get brighter when I added water. not a bad thing, I like strong colours in a painting. The water-solouble ink that I used for the drawing also dissolved slightly, and I was able to soften edges and use it to take some of the harshness out of the colour. The best thing that I found about using the pencils was that I could leave some areas dry, retaining the effect of the textured paper.

St Mary's Church, TinternI’m quite pleased with how they turned out. one of these days, I’ll try combining them with traditional watercolour and see what happens.