Making a Big Splash on a Rainy Day

Last week on a dark and rainy morning I took a small dish of leftover water I had soaked the tip of a lovely Prussian blue crayon. I opened my sketchbook to a blank spread, held the dish of bright blue water above it and let it spill out across the two pages. I set it aside to dry while I moved on to other tasks.

In the afternoon I went back and stared at the arrangement of stains. The day needed some fun color. After doodling away a Koi out of the bottom larger stain I brought out a handful of companions to swim along.

I like creating sketchbook prompts like this to store away for a later time. I ended up giving in to impatience and playing with this spread on the same day but I try to set random backgrounds for myself in my sketchbook then forget about them. It’s a good way to break up a rut, create a creative challenge and have some impulsive fun.

la figura humana

Wet Gestures with Watercolor Crayons

1-minute gesture Yellow ochre and sepia watercolor crayon on manilla paper

I think I was introduced to watercolor crayons through Daniela Brambilla’s fantastic book Human Figure Drawing: Drawing Gestures, Postures and Movements. Influenced in large part by Kimon Nicolaides she encourages jumping into a wide range of materials when drawing. The watercolor crayon is a favorite of her’s as she recommends wetting a blunt tip and keeping a well sharpened one nearby, switching between the two.

I got carried away during this warmup of short poses removing the wrappers off of my crayons and letting one sit in water as I drew with the other. The result was messy, slippery and pretty liberating.

Especially for warming up I like going to less used, unexpected and chaotic media when drawing quick gestures. My attitude and approach to these studies are in line with Nicolaides, Brambilla and Patricia Hannaway. Draw big, loose and through the figure focusing on what is happening in front of my eyes ignoring any and all specific contours.