I switched from acrylic paint for my backgrounds to Ampersand ink and I love the change. I can water down the ink without any issues, and they’re lightfast and archival. With this 6″x8″ piece, however, I went overboard with green and then spent most of my time either toning it down with colored pencil or sanding it off with a fiberglass brush. The beauty of Claybord is that I can use scratchboard techniques for detail and highlights, but using steel wool or a fiberglass brush can erase any mistake nearly down to the white surface. And here are some pictures of Pete having a good roll and then hightailing it back to me.
I followed the same process as my other Claybords by using an acrylic background, colored pencils for all the drawing, and scratchboard techniques for highlights and details for these two 6″x6″ pieces.
I’ve become fascinated with sketching birds, so I’m making an effort to learn more about them. Artist and naturalist John Muir Laws has numerous lectures on nature journaling, and I’d recommend them to anyone who wants to improve drawing animals, trees, insects, etc.
Claybord is an excellent surface for many mediums including graphite and colored pencil, which is how I discovered it while searching for a surface other than paper to experiment with. The surface is smooth and feels like porcelain, but it’s actually a layer of clay over a hardboard. If you finish your work with varnish, it doesn’t have to be displayed under glass. Claybord is also a great scratchboard surface.
The longer I play with art, the more my mediums combine. With the bunnies, I used Golden High Flow Acrylics as a background with Derwent Drawing Pencils for the foreground. I scratched in some highlights and then put in another layer of pencil. I felt like I could keep swapping back and forth as long as I wanted to. I probably stopped after three layers.
I’ve discovered one of my all-time favorite surfaces, mineral paper, is a great scratchboard surface, too. What luck that I happen to have a huge supply of the thick, 16 pt Terraskin paper. Here, I practiced on it using my new favorite colored pencils, Derwent Drawing Pencils.
I used graphite and the Derwent pencils to draw this barn picture:
In one of my mixed media moods, I started this sparrow drawing with acrylic, put in the autumn leaves with Inktense (and salt for the mottled effect), and then finally finished it a month or two later with the Derwent Drawing Pencils:
And I sketched a ton of horses last week. And one dog:
My all-time favorite horse artist is Sam Savitt, illustrator of hundreds of children’s books, articles, how-to’s, posters, and paintings. I was always taken with his art, even as a child, because he captured the beauty and inquisitive nature of all types of horses. I purchased his how-to book quite a long time ago, Draw Horses with Sam Savitt, and I highly recommend it for anyone interested in horse art.
I discovered he authored a Grumbacher how-to book on painting, The Art of Painting Horses. I guess it doesn’t matter that I don’t paint in oils or acrylics, I still wanted it. The thin paperback has five tutorials and was about $15 or so on eBay.
I used Neocolor II watersoluble crayons by Caran D’Ache for all of the tutorials. I first drew with crayons and then used water to paint them out from the base drawing. One tip I can pass along with this type of watersoluble medium is to draw in your initial layer thinner/smaller than you need. When you use a wet brush to activate the pigment, you’ll probably push the lines out, making the image larger. Plus, it’s far easier to make something bigger than take away.
All of these were painted in a Stillman & Birn Delta sketchbook.
Honestly, I would have never chosen to draw a polo match or a huge draft, but Sam Savitt loved all horses. Great inspiration and quite a challenge.
Other than the pony painting, I’m pleased with the pictures. They capture horses looking lovely and still but also in motion–some with funny-looking humans. (They’re not funny looking in his book, mind you.)
For those of you with an insatiable curiosity about Sam Savitt, there are two sets of videos on Youtube that may interest you even though the quality is poor. The first is a lecture, the second a demo.