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“Spring Watercolor + Watercolor Pencil Sketches” 5-12-09

It was a gorgeous day so after my walk with my dog Ginger I sat on the old picnic table in the center of the yard and played around with my watercolor pencils and watercolors.  I still prefer to use my watercolors as I can make any color I like as to the watercolor pencils where you can sketch areas quickly but the color is so very different when you wet it. You really have to practice and maybe do some small test areas (as I did at the bottom of the page) to see what it will look like.

sketch page 1 5 11 09 72dpi 182x300 Spring Watercolor + Watercolor Pencil Sketches 5 12 09

"May Field sketch page"

The first picture is my whole sketchbook page including some little sketches of an unfinished Barn Owl and the Tree Swallows who were swooping over me. I sat on the table in the middle of the yard and was attacked by darn black flies! You can read my note, I even left out a word I was SO distracted by them trying to bite me and fly into my eyes.

may field 72dpi1 271x300 Spring Watercolor + Watercolor Pencil Sketches 5 12 09

"May Field close-up"

There’s a close up of the field sketch, the thing I do like about watercolor pencils is that you can show your lines; it can be very expressive.

cmay trees 2 72dpi 300x271 Spring Watercolor + Watercolor Pencil Sketches 5 12 09

"May Trees"

This picture above shows a watercolor study of trees far off in my field. I was using just one waterbrush for this, as the paint dried fast working in the sun outdoors, I found that I could actually put some bright yellow dots over dark areas.

wcp color tests grass 2 72dpi 300x211 Spring Watercolor + Watercolor Pencil Sketches 5 12 09

"Watercolor Pencil color test"

This picture is really what I set out to practice today, color swatches in watercolor pencils to match the grass I was seeing. I laid down one color and labeled it then tested putting one color over the top area and labeled it too. When you wet it the color changes quite a bit, that’s why I wanted to play around with it. You can hold your sketchbook up and look directly at the grass (or whatever you’re trying to match) in front of you, next to the sketchbook. Look back and forth and ask yourself if it’s too yellow?, too bright green? Does the chroma need to be dulled down? I find that the watercolor pencils are very bright in chroma, that’s why I’m practicing with them.

5 comments to “Spring Watercolor + Watercolor Pencil Sketches” 5-12-09

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  • Penny

    Lovely paintings, Mary. I am working on a spring watercolor painting and wanted some ideas on how to paint my spring trees. Your ‘May Trees’ gave me just the inspiration I needed as far as color. Otherwise, my preliminary sketches were similar to what you have painted, though my colors weren’t quite as lively. I like the aerial perspective you used, as well, with the less distinct and more grayed trees in the background.

  • Thanks Penny, even though the sketches are from awhile ago I’m glad they helped you a bit. I sometimes get the itch to use my watercolor pencils, but I usually go back to the wc because I feel I have more color control with them, mostly just from using them more. If you use something all the time you learn what it’ll do. The pencils are nice because you can be expressive with them, but the colors ARE vibrant! You have to be careful not to overdue it. I’m happy with some of the little watercolors I did this past winter while standing outside in the snow! They were quick and small but I was always trying to capture the field, greying the distant trees. Maybe you could look at them? Let me know how your painting goes, I’d love to see the progress or finished painting.

  • Penny

    Hi, Mary. I am extremely impressed with your latest blog posting of your “nature hike.” You had some wonderful scenery and I am sure it is difficult to decide which, if not all, are “paint-worthy.” I especially like the sketchbook painting of Eldingham, and the butterfly identification lesson is very much appreciated.
    I cannot find the watercolors you painted in the winter snow; can you tell me where to find them? Also, I am not extremely computer savvy, but would like to share my finished painting with you; can you tell me how to do that? Your friend, Penny

  • Hi Penny, thanks so much! It is hard to pick and choose what to paint, you want to stop all the time! And I love spotting new butterflies and moths, I just did a few small moth studies I can’t wait to catch up and post.
    When you ask about the “watercolors in the winter snow” so you mean an old post I did when I painted in winter? I have a bunch of them if you click on the blue “Tag Cloud” words in the right column, try clicking “Winter Landscape” and a bunch will come up. Let me know if this helped. Mary Oops forgot you can send me a picture at

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