Drawing and painting was a hobby of mine that I spent an awful lot of hours on when I was a child. I took GCSE and A-level Art, but since then, I have rarely allowed myself the time to just enjoy it again. You may already know that I have an Etsy shop where I sell my pyrographed items, which often is a form of drawing, but when I’m making something to sell, it’s never quite as fun! I have resolved to stop thinking of time spent drawing and painting as an indulgence, and started allowing myself some free time to enjoy myself and relax. So last year, whilst away in the Lake District, I treated myself to some new art supplies from the Derwent shop in Keswick, and following my discovery of the Derwent Inktense sticks, I put the Derwent Inktense pencils on my wishlist. Chris obliged with them as a gift on our wedding anniversary, and here’s what I think of them so far…
When I received the tin of twenty-four pencils, I was desperate to have a go, so I quickly found a piece of paper, and copied the picture of a peacock that’s on the lid. I was really pleased! They differ from the Inktense sticks, in that when you are just using the pencils, it doesn’t look or feel particularly pigmented. In fact, if you want to just do a coloured pencil drawing, I think you would get better results from using the Coloursoft pencils. However, when you add water, your drawing really comes to life and colours become stunningly vibrant.
My main problem occurred when I sat down to draw a photo I’d taken of Rain modelling a dress I’d made for Threads of a Fairytale. Out of twenty-four shades, there is nothing at all suitable to use for a pale skin tone. No pale pink and no peach. In fact, my only option was to use an orangey-brown colour called mustard, and a dark plum colour called fuchsia, and just use a very light touch with them. It’s ok from a distance, but not very successful when you look close-up at my picture. I’ve just had a look at the Derwent website and there isn’t an individual colour I can buy unless I try with cherry and cadium orange. I am disappointed because I wanted to particularly practice drawing portraits of my daughters and this is a serious issue that could possibly prevent me from doing that. It doesn’t feel quite right making them have a darker skin colour than they actually do, so alternatively I go down a fantasy route and give them Avatar blue skin or something like that! Actually, I would like to place them in a fairytale fantasy setting, so maybe that’s not a bad idea! I could of course use regular watercolour pencils for the skin areas next time and see how that works next to the Inktense pencils for the rest of the picture.
Also, before you launch into a drawing you want to be proud of, you do need to spend some time familiarising yourself with the pencils. For example, when I was using ‘bark’ and ‘ink black’ and shading them next to each other, at first on the paper they look very similar. However, when you add water, they look entirely different! In fact, always go very lightly when using black to shade areas, as it goes extremely intense with the water added. You can see from my drawing how the shading on the bodice is very black, but when I was colouring, it looked like it was a close tonal match to the ‘shiraz’ dark red. I also wasn’t very successful at mixing white with other shades, so I think I will need to practice that to see if I layer white over the top if it will have a better blend. Where I put ‘antique white’ and the ‘shiraz’ next to each other, they didn’t blend at all to make a paler shade. I really think Inktense products are meant for what the name suggests, intense, vibrant artwork, not subtle dainty drawings! If you love using watercolour pencils but don’t get the rich tones you’re really after, then this is the art product for you!
I love the way none of the detail in your pencil drawing is lost. Adding the water manages to blend the colour out without losing any of the definition of the pencil marks. I had a quick try recently of using the Derwent Inktense pencils for drawing in some details, and the Derwent Inktense bars for the shading. I’ll be honest, I can’t wait to finish that picture, and I think that is how I will use the pencils most in the future. I also experimented with using them on wood veneer to give some colour to my pyrography drawings. For some reason, the colours weren’t quite as vibrant on wood, but still worked well, and the fact that the ink is permanent when water is added, means that I can decorate books and jewellery boxes and other day-to-day wooden items without worrying about the colour coming off. Keep an eye on my ByHelenHobden Etsy shop to see future products with this technique.
If you’d like to have a go yourself, Amazon seems to have the best price:
The blog post is in conjunction with a YouTube video I made showing me drawing the picture of Rain in the wedding dress, and talking about the pencils as I go along.