Happy New Year one and all!
I know that my first post of the new decade, on the very first day of 2020 is the ideal day for me to be setting out my own watercolour manifesto for the year or even years ahead, but I’m afraid that I have to confess that my manifesto writing is running a little behind schedule!
Instead, with Christmas only a week past, I thought I’d take this opportunity to relay my first impressions of one of my Christmas presents, a set of Copic Ciao grey tone pens, currently on offer from Cass Arts.
These were one of those heavily hinted at presents after I saw them while doing my own Christmas shopping. Prior to this I’d never seen them, but on first sight they instantly struck a chord with me!
Here’s a quick run down of them. They’re a set of five markers in different shades of grey, each with two replaceable heads, one a medium broad chisel tip for thick strokes and the other a brush pen style tip for varying widths. The set also includes a 0.3mm multiliner pen.
Now the reason these took my eye is that they seemed like the perfect solution to one of my perennial challenges – sketching! I don’t do anywhere near enough sketching, favoring instead to spend the limited time I have painting.
I have tried in the past some pencil sketching using a limited tonal scale, but usually fall to easily into the trap of too many subtle tones. These pens, with their fixed tones, seemed to offer a potential solution to my natural instincts.
Now I haven’t had much time to explore their full potential yet but, along with the addition of a white gel pen, I’ve done some initial playing around with them.
As I’ve been away between Christmas and New Year and somewhat cooped up inside, I’ve had to rely on my own paintings and imaginings as inspiration. All of the following sketches are done in a small sketchbook about 10cms x 14.5cms:
Each of these was done in a matter of minutes and I really enjoyed working on them. Naturally it’s a lot easier to reverse engineer a sketch from a painting than it is to sketch as a basis for painting but, at this stage, it’s just about having some fun and getting familiar with the pens.
I really like the option of the two different tips as they enable a really wide range of mark making, allowing you to cover areas broadly and quickly, as well as to add more detailed and delicate touches too. This flexibility, along with the range of grey’s enables you to develop sketches that are both quick to produce and richly varied.
The ink is alcohol based and, one of the things that I particularly like is the ability to layer them, much as you might watercolour washes, gradually building from light to dark.
It is still early days but I think there’s the potential for these pens to provide an easy means of making small sketches and notations, which would only be a good thing.
Speaking of good things, I’m hoping that I’ll soon be able to get back into a rhythm with my painting once life settles back to a degree of normality after the festivities and New Year. I sincerely hope that this is the case, otherwise I’ll have to resort to reviewing my other Christmas gifts, and I’m not too sure how much anyone wants to hear about my new bicycle cleaning gadgets, or indeed the new exhaust manifold I treated myself to for my dear old ailing Volvo!
I hope that you’ve all had a wonderful Christmas and New Year and that you’re all brimming with enthusiasm and optimism for the year ahead.