Deb Ward, GWS, OWS, PWS, WSI - WATERCOLOR/WATER MEDIA - My passion is teaching adult “beginners”. Weekly classes in my home; workshops; classes for Cincinnati Recreation Commission. My work is nationally recognized and published - see “Featured” on my sidebar. I’m a Signature Member of Georgia, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Indiana state Watercolor Societies, Cincinnati Art Club, past-President of Greater Cincinnati Watercolor Society. Contact info below under “Class Information”

Saturday, February 26, 2011


(* This means everyone, even experienced painters, can try painting with watercolor pencils in the safety and comfort of your own home!)

Throughout the year I teach classes in different mediums to people with varying skill levels, which can be challenging. The classes are designed to allow the students to complete a painting in 3 hours!

My most recent class was in watercolor pencil. It got me to thinking how we take so much about painting for granted; we just assume that people already have an understanding of what we are doing. Our assumption is no different from those experienced in many other fields.

For instance, did you ever buy a sewing pattern that gave directions aimed at experienced seamstresses - which you aren’t! Since the pattern assumed you already knew sewing terms, and therefore gave no definitions, you could not understand what you were supposed to do. So it is with most blogs about painting – they expect that you have some experience in the medium.

Well, the next several posts will be a detailed lesson in how to paint with watercolor pencils for all of you *Newbies to this medium.

Think of the watercolor pencil like a stick form of watercolor. As a matter of fact, a couple of paint companies have recently come out with “watercolor sticks” – a larger solid form of watercolor than the watercolor pencils, and probably of better quality pigment. I’m assuming that both watercolor pencils and the new watercolor sticks are aimed primarily at artists “on the go” who like to paint outdoors. A combination of these would allow the artist to make a sketch on site and not even have to carry water with them; they could just wet the paint later to complete their painting.

OK, now we are ready to begin our project. Have fun and follow along; I hope this painting turns out well for you – and if it does, please let me know! Results may vary!

Here is a list of supplies you will need for this project – graphite pencil, ruler, masking tape, eraser, pencil sharpener, watercolor pencils, watercolor brushes (one round, one flat), scrubber brush, tissues, and watercolor paper. I used Arches 140# CP which I cut down into 1/8 size - but you could use another brand.

You probably have all of these supplies, except possibly the watercolor pencils.
*Newbie Alert - If you don’t have a scrubber brush, you can use any stiff brush; I’ve used fabric brushes and even an old toothbrush. You can also use an oil painting bristle brush.
As far as tissues, use plain white rather than colored, since it is possible that you can add color from the tissue to your paper when you blot; also, never use any tissues with lotion in them!

*Newbie Alert – Arches watercolor paper can be purchased just about anywhere. 140# denotes the thickness of the paper, and this is the standard thickness of most watercolor papers. This paper will stand up to being erased and scrubbed. A full sheet of this paper measures 22 in. x 30 in. If you cut (or tear) this in half you will get a sheet that is 22x15 – referred to as a half sheet. Cut or tear that in half and you have a quarter sheet (11x15) and then cut or tear that in half and you have a 1/8 sheet (11x7.5). These are the standard sizes used by watercolorists.
To tear watercolor paper – fold in half, then flop the paper back on itself and re-fold on the crease you just made. Do this several times and the paper will have weakened to the point that you are able to tear it. This is how the “professionals” do it! But, if you don’t want to bother, fold it in half and then cut with scissors along the crease.

Below are some watercolor pencils you might look for, and I’m sure there are more on the market. As with any new medium, just buy a small set to see if you like this medium. Even if you don’t, you can still use these watercolor pencils to draw out your watercolor pictures. They also will come in handy if you have a l-i-t-t-l-e t-i-n-y space you need to fill in on a painting - so they won’t go to waste.
Top – Staedtler watercolor pencils – used for this painting
Next – Mongol – I’ve had these so long I don’t know where I got them or if they are even made any more
In the middle – Derwent solid pencils (no wood)
On the right – Cretacolor Aqua Monolith – also solid (no wood)
On the bottom – Caran d’Ache – solid. Sorry – the flash obliterated the name. They look more like a crayon than a pencil. I bought this set for about $15 years ago, don’t use them much. A set like this will set you back a bit; mine must have been on a clearance rack or something!


Gaylynn said...

Deb, Funny that you posted because I purchased a set of Faber Castell Aquarelle today. I had a gift card and a 40% off paints,brushes, etc.. Since they only carry Cottman watercolors I choose to purchase the WC pencils. I already have some, but after a recent article I read I thought I would play. Now I will do so by following your blog class. Thanks

debwardart said...

And they say there is no such thing as coincidence!! This painting will be very simple! But you might enjoy painting along just to get the hang of the w/c pencils. If you do, send me a photo of your finished results!