Last year when I was in New York, I visited a couple of art supply shops and came back to Amsterdam with my trolley being super heavy because of the stacks of sketchbooks I found of sizes and brands that aren't so easy to get by here in the Netherlands. They are great souvenirs and will last quite a while too!
One of the sketchbooks I found there was a Strathmore toned paper book. In the netherlands, you can only get them with a ring binding and a flappy front and back, this one is nicely bound with a hard cover.
I had been drooling over Miguel Herranz's toned sketchbook pages, and even made a little drawing of my coffee in Danny's grey toned sketchbook when we met in Amsterdam in 2013. Both of them had told me that there is quite a challenge in finding the right way to make good use of the toned paper and to keep at it until the very last page. Others too told me that the toned background is fun but tricky.
So I knew it was time to try it myself. If you follow me here on my blog or elsewhere on social media, you will have seen many of these toned paper sketches in the past months.
I found that the brown paper background seemed to work really good with black pen and a pinch of white. I used a white gel pen for bright whites, but a white colour pencil could do too. Sometimes I would add a dash of 1 single colour with colour pencil. A grey brush pen was wonderful to add some shadows, or to create a bit of a 'blurry' background. Watercolours did not work at all, colour pencils however, gave a bright effect. I discovered though that in all drawings I should use a graphic approach and stay away from super realistic pencil or colour pencil drawings. Think black pen lines were mostly the best basic starting point.
And then, finally, during my stay in Norway, when I had hours of drawing time, I sat down at the small kitchen table to draw the kitchen. At first I made a black line drawing and added shading with hatching lines. I was pretty happy about the result - but I wanted to get all the colours in too. So I grabbed my colour pencils and instead of colouring each surface evenly, I decided to keep on hatching.
So finally, almost at the end of the sketchbook, Ifound the right approach for this toned paper background! Such a revelation!
I discovered not just the technique that worked best for me, but also the subject that works best: rather than drawing an object, I should draw (part of an) interior!
So I made another interior drawing, of the living room (in the back, you can see the blue kitchen table I made the kitchen-drawing at).
At the last day, I sat myself down on a tree trunk in the front garden to draw the cottage again and played around a little more with my coloure pencils.
Boy am I glad I bought another one of those sketchbooks: I have one with grey paper and I might just dedicate it to drawing interiors only. It'll take a while to fill it because these drawings are quite elaborate, but that's okay - it may be a great project for winter!
Labels: colour, coloured pencils, journal, travel, urban sketch