Colour Techniques Workshop

Today I was in Utrecht at an art workshop there for the first time. I have to say am proud of myself for attending one in Dutch-language. I am far from fluent but I’ve passed a few years ago my Dutch Integration Exams which includes basic working knowledge of the language. Anything I didn’t understand the teacher, Julia Woning, along with other students would kindly slow down or at the last resort translate for me but I managed to get by!

There were about 12 of us plus Julia. The Colour techniques included theory like the colour wheel and practice like trying out various non-paints namely a range of colour pencils, crayons, pastels and markers. It is amazing how much choices we have!

The first part we tried and tested some water-soluble media like three kinds of aquarelle pencils (Derwent Watercolor, Caran D’Ache Soft and Derwent Intense), crayon (Neocolor II, apparently Neocolor I is oil based) and Pastel (Derwent Intense). Scribbled them in and spread with a wet brush. Then Julia showed us different methods of watercolor painting. The watercolor palette was a small piece of the Derwent Intense pastel and we added water with a pipette. Methods include dry on wet, wet on wet including shavings from the pastel, splattering using a satay stick and blowing with a straw.

I already own a set of aquarelle pencils (Caran D’Ache Prismalo) which am happy with and also the Neocolor II which I also like. However, I thought the pastels would be cool to have as well given, as the name suggests, the color intensity. So I bought a small set of one and can’t wait to use it again! All workshop attendees get a 20% on products bought today so I thought why not?

The next part we tried and tested some non water-soluble pencils. Of the four, one is oil-based. We experimented using each one and seeing what would happen if we use a blender, burnisher, turpentine and baby oil. I’ve never used the turpentine or oil but may like to incorporate the turpentine in my future work. Not too keen on the baby oil as it tends to mark the paper. I haven’t use colored pencils recent like I used to but may like to go back to it as well. Although I have a set of good colored pencils like Staedler’s Ergosoft, I also liked the Derwent Procolor which is less pigmented and hence harder but I found the colours spread smoothly and evenly. I didn’t buy a set of this but should I decide to use more colour pencils in the near future, it’s worth considering.

Before we broke up for lunch, we worked on the Colour Wheel, the fundamental basis of the colour theory. Quite self-explanatory but it’s about creating various shades of colours using the primary colours of red, yellow and blue as base. I made my own using cool colours and though out of the ordinary, I quite liked the results. Instead of red, I used magenta, and the blue looked more turquoise.

After lunch we looked at some pastels briefly trying out the pencils and sticks. The highlight was today was on pan pastels. Coming in compacts in pan form, these pastels are applied by special sponges almost similar to makeup sponges. To blend the colours there is a special pan powder. I liked the fact that unlike the stick pastels, they produce less dust and hence are not as messy. But they do smudge so you still need fixative spray in the end. All quite new to me. However I am holding off getting some till I have more practice with them. In November, Julia is holding a workshop focusing on pan pastels and then I’ll decide.

Finally we looked at some markers. Ecoline, which I use frequently in liquid form my paintings, is water-based and hence soluble. Then there exists the alcohol-based ones by Copic which has the risk of bleeding through paper. But the one that interested me was the acrylic pens by Molotow which are apparently more permanent than Uni Posca pens. I bought a set of them and look forward to incorporating these pens in my work!

The workshop was concluded by having a go at colouring in whatever we wanted to choose from. I chose some pencils for the hair and went for the Neocolor for the dress. I have yet to complete the exercise but anyway here it is.

It was certainly an informative session today. Great to have a clearer idea of what is a available and by trying various stuff you can find what suits you most. Also wonderful to have a broader insight into coloured pencils and discover new products like the pan pastels. Julia did a tremendous job introducing and showing us how to produce beautiful colours in various forms. Thanks so much, Julia, and I look forward to further workshops by you!

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