“Birds and Bees”
Pen & Ink with Watercolour Zoom Demonstration
Friday 6th October
Kerry Bennett is an artist who lives in Battle in Sussex where in addition to face-to-face lessons in her spacious studio she also offers online art lessons including live ‘Zoom’ classes and workshops. She had posted some of her pen & ink with watercolour work on her Facebook page which is how FCSA came to discover her and to ask her to do this Zoom demonstration.
Kerry began by explaining that she was going to demonstrate two examples of her pen & ink technique. The first painting will be of a group of birds. The second will be of bees with a central flower. She began by sketching the birds lightly in pencil. She thinks of birds as two egg shapes, one for the head and one for the body. She illustrated how to use these egg shapes depending on the angle of the bird.
The pen she will use is a Manga pen. Use any nib other than a calligraphy nib. Kerry will be working on 300 gsm SAA practice paper which is inexpensive but works well.
The ink she uses is Chinese Sumi black drawing ink. Below is a description of this ink from the internet:
A quality ink specifically developed for drawing and illustration. Suitable for use with a dip pen, brush or airbrush. Water-based pigment 1 x 60ml bottle Waterproof when dry Ideal for drawing, calligraphy and illustration.
Before painting Kerry removes some of the graphite drawing with a putty rubber. Then using her reference photo she dips her pen in the ink and draws a light line along the birds head. Immediately she takes her brush and dips it in clean water and gently touches the ink line she has drawn. The ink moves into the water to produce a soft outline. She holds both the pen and the brush in the same hand and alternates. It is important to work in small sections because once the ink dries it will not flow.
Using a size 10 brush or a smaller size 4 or 6 for tight areas she carries on moving the ink with her paint brush, using more ink for darker areas. She tries not to correct but will use salt to soak up some of the ink that has spread a little too far as this creates a soft fluffy look. Leaving white areas is essential. It is possible to use masking fluid to maintain the white of the eye but Kerry is just careful to keep the highlight.
The ink will dry quite a lot lighter than it appears when it is first put on. Kerry worked with a fine brush to paint the beaks and the legs and feet as well as the tiny little twigs off the main branch. She also used salt on the branch to create a varied effect. There are three stages with watercolour ; glossy when the water is on the surface of the paper; a sheen when it is ready for salt or the wet in wet technique, and matt when the ink has dried.
The time had come to add some colour. Kerry likes Winsor & Newton Artist Colours. She will be using Paynes Grey, Quinacridone Gold and Cobalt Violet Hue although her Cobalt Violet is a Schmincke paint which seems to require more paint to obtain a strong pigment. Kerry tends to put a little paint on the edge of the wells of her palette and then mixes the paint into the water its well.
Kerry uses a large squirrel brush for the background and she applies lots of clean water. If you find the paper starts to buckle keep moving the brush and try to saturate evenly. She adds Quinacridone Gold and Cobalt Violet Hue fairly randomly although she ensures that she does not let the colour become separated by an object like the branch carrying the colour through to both sides so that if there is yellow on one side the yellow will follow through to the other. Eventually she adds some Burnt Umber to the birds and Yellow Ochre for their beaks. Here is the finished painting.
After the break Kerry began her second demonstration which was with three bees and a central flower. When drawing bees she thinks of them as basically a jelly bean shape. Bees are a good subject to practice creating a fuzzy outline. She uses very clean water to wet around the edge of the bee shape going well outside the lines. Using Cadmium Yellow and Cadmium Yellow Deep she drops a little paint into the water and lets it move to the edge creating the fuzzy effect.
Kerry does the same with the black ink being careful to leave a highlight for the eye. She uses ink for the legs and later goes back in to darken the corp of the body.
To paint the wings Kerry uses a rough brush to skim across the paper creating a see-through effect. She repeats this technique with the three bees and then leaves them to dry while she tackles the central flower.
Kerry will increase the amount of ink where there are shadows on the flower. She paints small broken lines holding both the pen and brush in her hand again and alternating between them to make the ink move with her brush. Towards the end of the demonstration she revisited the bees to look at the wings again to give them more detail. She looked at her reference which showed a darker line at the top of the wing. She used a very fine paintbrush to paint these.
Finally Kerry took some of the Cadmium Yellow paint and splattered it randomly on the background and then added some of the darker shade there too. Here is the finished painting.
There were twenty-one people on line and some of the members painted along with Kerry and were kind enough to show everyone their efforts at the end. It was agreed that Indian Ink does not work as well as the Chinese Sumi ink that Kerry was using. Our thanks to Kerry for introducing us to this interesting technique.
Kerry Bennett can be found on line via her website or her Facebook page:
Write up by Carole Head