Change your drawing style with new materials

We all have our own personal way of drawing. I may admire other people’s work and even aspire to it. But when I draw it always comes out looking like ‘mine’, like handwriting.

This can be reassuring as you build your personal approach and portfolio. But it can have its frustrations. My drawings tend to be linear; it’s quicker to get down an outline form if you are drawing on location or in your sketchbook. There are other ways you can use line; to define tonal areas, follow contours or build a pattern of small marks. Varying your line can be the simplest way to add interest to your drawings.

I’m currently trying to use more colour in preparation for a new series of paintings. Changing your pen can affect your handwriting, so changing materials is an obvious starting point if I want to change my usual approach. I often use colour pencil in sketches and in paintings, but in the past I have struggled to find a way to add large areas of colour. A small watercolour set is useful to carry but it’s difficult to overlay colours due to the transparency. You have to plan a bit too much and work from the lightest tone to darkest and that doesn’t suit me so well; I prefer to adjust and respond as I’m going.

Recently I bought a set of Caran D’ache NeoColour II which are water soluble wax crayons. Almost like a concentrated stick of pigment you can draw with them and then add water to create a more intense paint effect. Here is my first attempt at using them:20140806-085917-32357467.jpg
I also used some oil pastel first so this would act as a resist to the following water based pigment. Overall it’s a bit of a mess: too in distinct perhaps but there are some interesting marks made by drawing the bright green colour pencil through the damp NeoColour.

Using a new material served it’s purpose and got me started on some colour studies and more importantly playing with how I translated what I could see to what I was putting on paper.

Here are the other images I added to my sketchbook in the same session. I did use watercolour from my tin as once I got started I found it quicker to add larger patches, but the ability to make a line with the NeoColour and then blend it with water is a useful addition to an image.




I can bet that you have a tin or box of materials tucked away that you were tempted to buy in an art shop browse… Why not get them out today and have a play?

10 replies
  1. Vanessa
    Vanessa says:

    I used to do this a lot more when I was younger and in school. I was always very eager to try something new, now I’ve kind of gotten scared and nervous. Before all the tools and inspiration were available to me, now I have to chase it. But its part of planned lifestyle changes that I definitely will do this. 🙂 Thanks for a great inspiring article to encourage us all to do this.

      • Vanessa
        Vanessa says:

        Oh definitely! At the time it never felt too much because there was always something I didn’t know about or something that the teacher brought up. Most of it wasn’t fully available until we learned about it so it was one step at a time. Every now and then we would be presented with something new, usually when I was getting a little bored or a bit too comfortable with the last thing. Or in college I would take a different art class each semester or so. Never too much at the same time.

    • Alice Sheridan
      Alice Sheridan says:

      Great! Give them a go Deborah. Derwent make something similar called Acquarelle (I think!). Maybe look at the colour choice available in each set to see which is more suited to your preferred colour palette. Come over to the Facebook page and share what you’ve done!

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