The Life of an Amaryllis Part I

You can click the image for a larger, clearer view.

A few weeks ago, I prepared two, two-page spreads with pastel ground. I just wanted to experiment with the Golden Acrylic Ground for Pastels to see what it was like. I used one for a pastel sketch that is still evolving, and I thought I'd use Wolff's Carbon Pencils for this second one. What I really like about the Wolff's pencils is that:
  1. they give beautiful, rich darks, and
  2. they wash with a wet brush.
This means I can play both wet and dry, and layer to my heart's content. They are a blend of graphite and charcoal that merges the smoothness of graphite with the depth of charcoal. I used only a 6B here, drawing first, then washing a bit. I went back and forth that way, then dove in for the kill with the dark accents. I should have stopped there. But I liked the rich darks so much that I started doing more and more, and well, you know how that goes. It passed that delicious al dente stage and became a bit overcooked.

Pastel ground is not friendly to fountain pens. They write fine on it, but the ground has a fine texture to it that will destroy nibs, so I did the writing with a Pilot Plumix on Borden & Riley 108 lb. Pen and Ink paper, and glued it onto the adjacent page. The purple writing was a Sharpie felt tip calligraphy pen, so I really didn't care what would happen to that one! I used that directly on the pastel ground.

I'm excited about this amaryllis series! It will be fun to explore the changes and have the chance to observe it more closely as I sketch, and it gives me something interesting to draw inside from life, for those times when I can't get out on location. I really hate working from photos.


  1. What a great idea for a series of sketches...especially since the amarillis changes so much. I'll be watching! Someone thought of a great gift for you.

  2. Anonymous4:22 AM

    Fantastic idea. Where did you get the Wolff's Carbon Pencils? Catskill Art Supply???

  3. ihavethetangles, I used to sketch with these pretty frequently and have had them for a long time, so I don't remember where I got them. However, there is a clickable link to them in the body of the post, which goes to their location on the Dick Blick website.