For just a few seconds, I thought watercolor painting pencils were some kind of April Fool’s flashback prank. I mean, everything I think of and know about watercolor painting is that it is fluid and kind of uncontrollable. In a pencil, how can watercolor still have that same looseness? But then I thought about the reverse of this—watercolor pencils might mean no more watercolor paintings going off the rails.
With a pencil, I would be able to guide the forms more and give them the overall shape that I want, right? Well, I was a little right and a little wrong. Watercolor painting pencils can give you a bit more control, but the fluidity of the medium is still there.
Here’s a step-by-step tutorial on using the wet-in-wet watercolor pencil technique to create a lovely peony painting from watercolor artist Kristy Ann Kutch, so you can see for yourself!
Steps 1 & 2: Prepare a line drawing of a peony blossom using either a light blue, lavender or HB pencil on hot-pressed watercolor paper. Save the central light-colored stamen area of the peony with masking fluid, and allow it to dry.
Steps 3 & 4: Stroke on dry layers of these watercolor pencils, beginning with the lightest values and ending with the darkest: light magenta, pink madder lake, light purple pink and mauve.
Dissolve these layers by stroking from the lightest to the darkest areas with a damp, size 6 round brush. Wet only one petal at a time. The top petal in this illustration has been wetted and the pigment dissolved into a wash.
Step 5: Touch a wet, size 2 rigger brush directly to the lead of a violet or pink carmine watercolor pencil so the entire brush is saturated with pigment. Lightly dab the brush’s tip with a tissue.
Touch this brush directly to the wet petal area and drag it through the length of the petal in one continuous stroke. Only brush in one direction. The wetter the petal, the more the color will spread and flow. Repeat this process for each petal, but be sure to wait until adjacent petals are dry to keep each petal distinct.
Step 6: When the entire blossom is dry, peel away the masking fluid, and apply strokes of cadmium yellow and cadmium orange to the stamens. Wet them with either the fine tip of a colorless blender marker or a wet size 2 round brush.
If desired, enhance the colors with either traditional or watercolor pencils in the appropriate color. Use a Tuscan red Verithin pencil on the stamens and along the petal edges to refine these details.
Did this open your mind to the possibilities of how to paint with watercolor pencils? It certainly did with me! For more watercolor painting tips and watercolor lessons from a professional artist and skilled watercolor instructor, consider our Watercolor Techniques: Painting Light & Color in Landscapes & Cityscapes by Michael Reardon. It has all the inspiration and methods you need to keep your art going strong! Enjoy!
More Watercolor Pencil Flowers
Want more step-by-step demonstrations on using watercolor pencils to create vibrant blooms from Kristy Kutch? Check out her instructional video, Watercolor Pencil Techniques: How to Paint Flowers!
In this video, Kristy starts with a complete review of watercolor pencils, tools, and easy and quick techniques so you can fully enjoy all this medium has to offer. Then follow along as she paints a charming blue iris from start to finish.
Watch the preview trailer below to get a glimpse of what this watercolor videos workshop has to offer, including painting tips for establishing a quick background, color mixing ideas for creating lovely blooms and application tricks for wet and dry pencils. Ready to get started? Head to ArtistsNetwork.tv to stream the full-length video now. Happy painting!