Hedges silhouetted agains the snow, winter light: watercolour and Derwent tinted charcoal pencils in Stillmand and Birn Beta Hardback sketchbook


I have always liked the calligraphic tangle of the hedges when they are sihouetted against the sky.   Recent snowfall meant even more opportunities with amazing light and the landscape simplified and hidden by the snow, throwing hedges into relief.

Above is a detail of a double page sketch in the lovely Stillman and Birn Beta A4 hardback sketchbook.  This paper is so forgiving and the watercolour works beautifully with it.  It allowed me to work through wet washes with charcoal pencil - something that tears many papers, leaving holes.  Some of the hedge is paint, some tinted charcoal.

First snow, more on the way, winter light: silhouetted hedges in watercolour and Derwent tinted charcoal in a Stillman and Birn A4 beta hardback sketchbook

The earlier warm golden glow of the low sun is covered by clouds, threatening more snow to come.   The spiky calligraphic marks of the hedge and the underlying form of the bank, with some of the taller dried grasses showing through, interested me. Colours are more muted.  The mix of watercolour and Derwent tinted pastel pencils were ideal to get the subtle colours that now showed.  Most of the white is the paper but there is a little white gouache to regain some of the negative spaces in the hedge - I'm a messy worker so of course smudged my charcoal a bit.

Further details


 I was also experimenting with some new tube colours I'd bought - Winsor and Newton opera rose (wow!) transparent yellow (a replacement I think for Aureolin?), brown madder ( lush colour) and a Daniel Smith Blue Apatite.   The jury is still out on Daniel Smith paints - they are very expensive and so far I'm not overwhelmed by them.  Nice but not superb, not so far, justifying that price.  I only have a couple of tubes but am hesitant to buy more.

I used the ochre, black and brown tinted charcoal pencils by Derwent - I absolutely love these for this sort of scene and light, the colours are just perfect.  They combine well with watercolour too, allowing me to add drawn marks that gel with the paint because charcoal is an innately painterly medium.  Sometimes I drew through a wet wash, making a darker mark, sometimes over dry paper and sometimes brushed the charcoal out a little with water to make a wash.

This may be done as a large canvas in mixed media.

One friend asked 'are you going to do any more to it?'   - and I'm not.   Would you?


Caroline B said…
I really like this, with it's brooding sky in the background. I've not got on with my tinted charcoal pencils (preferring the Inktense colours) but your snow paintings have given me some idea of how they should be used - I might give them another go!
vivien said…
Thanks Caroline. I like the Inktense too but sometimes I love to play with a more limited colour range.,

Congratulations on the box design and your dogs are delightful!
Cathy Gatland said…
No, I wouldn't if I were you :-) Love all these marks and the atmosphere they evoke Vivien - very inspiring to try charcoal and watercolour!
vivien said…
Thanks Cathy - that was my feeling, it's done. Because charcoal is such a painterly medium it really works so well with watercolour - or acrylic.

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