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Painting with Pencils

Painting With Pencils

Lots of people tell me they don’t get on with watercolours because they are too difficult, too unforgiving, and they have a mind of their own. They are actually my favourite medium – I think they just need a bit of practise but if you identify with that statement then I urge you to give watersoluble pencils a go. For these examples I’ve used Derwent Inktense pencils but any watercolour pencil will give similar results. I think the most important thing to bear in mind is that they do need plenty of water to achieve a painterly effect. Hopefully you can see in the apple here that the pigments of the pencil have completely disolved and been allowed to flow across the paper just like paint does. It may seem a waste of time and effort to make colour swatches as I have but pencils have to be layered and mixed on the paper. They can’t be premixed in a palette like wet paint. If you only have a few pencils it’s very useful to try them out to see how many colours you can achieve with limited options. I’ve scribbled two colours allowing them to overlap in the middle and then I’ve dragged a wet brush down the centre to see how they mix. It’s surprising to see the difference it makes if you then change which is the top layer of the two colours.


I’ve done the same trial mix with a few pencils for my study of green grapes. I often find many paints, pastels and pencils are rather too ‘raw’ straight from the tube or stick. Mixing more subtle colours is much more effective. Don’t you find green colours of paint and ink etc are a problem? The greens in nature are usually much softer and less strident than those I find in my pencil or paintbox. I always have to modify them to suit my taste!

I didn’t need many pencils for the grape painting – just a lemon mixed with leaf green for the fruits, dark indigo and charcoal grey for the shadows and mustard with charcoal for the stalks and the brown paper bag. Hope if you’ve got water-soluble pencils you’ll dust them off and have a play soon – I think you’ll have fun!

Thanks for dropping by. Linda x

4 thoughts on “Painting with Pencils

  1. Thank you for the tips on using watercolour pencils. I’ve tried them in the past but now realize I didn’t add enough water. Also, the sampling examples are really helpful. I love your paintings! Always inspiring. Thanks!

    1. Thanks Sandy – I do think being generous with the amount of water is key. I paint some water on, leave it for a moment or two then brush again to make sure the pigment is completely dissolved. Encourages the flow!

  2. This is such an informative post! It goes without saying that your paintings are lovely!

    1. Thanks Suzanne. Glad you like the paintings!

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