Small Pencil Art Of Nature

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Ponds are bodies of water smaller than lakes. They may occur naturally as a result of underground springs, or they may be man-made holes dug for any number of reasons. The pond environment catches the attention of many a landscape artist. These three small studies were all rendered with graphite pencils on Arches hot-press paper.

Landscaping Around Small Pond

This is a close-up of a very small pond. Here, interest was created by the placement of the weeds and the reflections in the water.

Ponds are often partially hidden by weeds and cattails, which are usually found around these small bodies of water. Woods and the mountain in the background round out this small landscape.

This drawing shows reflections of rocks in a quiet pond. The mirror-like reflections are very sharp; no ripples are present because of the bright day. To capture the feeling of rocks under water, leave the value of the water the same overall and make the contour darker. Or, if the sun is overhead, make the tops of the rocks under the water lighter and include the outline with a little shadow.

Outlines Drawing CattailsDrawing Rocks Underwater


Preliminary Sketch

The crashing sounds of rapidly running water moving over rocks create a quite different, but equally enticing, mood from the stillness of a pond. I started with a thumbnail sketch that shows very little detail but does show the placement of values and the flow of the water. It was worked on tissue paper with graphite pencils.

Outline Sketch

A contour, or outline, sketch was made to position all the elements. I also spotted a little tone here and there as guides to help me locate areas more quickly. At this point, I decided to do the finished drawing on a piece of 4-ply museum board using charcoal pencils.

Laying In Values

I begin laying in values with a 2B charcoal pencil. In the dark areas, I use a 4B pencil. The falls are left as untouched paper with just a little water direction added at the base of the falls and foreground with a 2B pencil. I add some detail in the wooded background and a little in the rocks —not too much. If you add too much, the next step would simply wash much of it away.

Next, I use a damp brush to paint over the charcoal. (The brush should be cleaned with fresh water when working the dark areas, or they will get too dark.) With the charcoal residue left on the brush, I add a bit of light gray to the sides and base of the falls. (Remember to follow the flow of the water with your brushstrokes.) When the water has dried, I work over the drawing with various charcoal pencils. I add some nice darks on the rocks next to the water; this will make the water look whiter. I keep the rocks dark at the base of the water, as they are always wet.

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Adding Details

A little more detail, such as crack lines and shadows here and there, is added to the rocks. Notice the interesting textures on the rocks created by brushing water over the charcoal. Don't overwork and destroy this happy accident. Finally, I add some dark strokes to the water in the immediate foreground. I find that when indicating water in a drawing, it's best to keep it as simple as possible to keep from getting a labored look.

Farm Valley Drawing

Valley Farm, graphite pencils on Somerset textured paper.

Drawing Nature Graphite Pencil


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