Vendor Voices

Mixed Media with Colored Pencil and Acrylic Ink From Dixon

Artist Bio: Sarah Becktel

Sarah Becktel is an American artist based in Southern New Jersey. She earned her BFA in painting from the Tyler School of Art and continued her studies of representational drawing and painting at multiple locations. Sarah creates paintings and drawings that are inspired by animal ecology and natural history. She has shown her work in solo and group exhibitions throughout the United States and her work is in private collections across the world.

When Sarah is not working in her studio, she is educating artists and students about their mediums and materials. As an art materials educator, Sarah lectures at art schools, ateliers, and retailers about the characteristics of art materials and how to choose the right products for each artist’s individual needs.

Sarah’s art can be seen on her website www.sarahbecktel.com and on Instagram @sarahbecktel

Sarah:

Lyra Rembrandt Polycolor colored pencils and Daler Rowney FW acrylic ink make a fantastic combination for mixed media art.  The colored pencil allows for expressive line work and texture while the acrylic ink creates additional depth of value and saturation of color.  

Colored pencil and acrylic ink are one of my favorite mixed media combinations for 2 reasons:  First, the colored pencil is not water-soluble.  This means that when I apply the acrylic ink over my colored pencil lines and shading, they will not move or change.  Second, the acrylic ink is permanent when dry. It cannot be reactivated with water, and I like this feature because I can re-work an area of my drawing multiple times without having to worry that previous layers of acrylic ink will move or lift.  Each layer of colored pencil and acrylic further develops and enhances the piece, and I can continue to add more without losing the detail of the previous layers.  

This combination of media works for both quick, on-the-go sketching as well as more refined studio work.  In the demo below, I’m using a limited palette of just 3 colored pencils and 2 acrylic ink colors, which is perfect for artists who just want to carry a few supplies while traveling or working plein air.  However, the technique works equally well with a full range of colors.

I prefer to work on toned paper because I like using bare paper as a mid-tone value.  When drawing and sketching outside or on-location, toned paper saves me a lot of time because I do not need to build up all my values with my drawing media; the tone of the paper has already given me a head start.  But this is a personal preference that varies from artist to artist, and this combination of colored pencil and acrylic ink also works well on white mixed media paper.  

Materials:

  • Lyra Rembrandt Polycolor colored pencils (Colors used: White, Dark Grey Warm, and Van Dyck Brown)
  • Daler Rowney FW acrylic inks (Colors used: Burnt Umber and Payne’s Grey)
  • Strathmore 400 Series toned gray mixed media paper
  • Princeton Aqua Elite brush (round, size 10)

Step 1: First, I use my dark grey Lyra colored pencil to sketch out my subject (a coyote) and add a base layer of shading.  At this point, I’m blocking in the darker values of my drawing, but I don’t want to apply too much colored pencil to the paper because the acrylic ink needs to be able to absorb into the paper’s surface.  If I were to completely fill the tooth of the paper with colored pencil, that thick layer of colored pencil would act as a resist and my acrylic ink would be unable to absorb into the paper; the acrylic would just bead up on the surface. 

Step 2: Next, I’m using a mixture of the FW acrylic inks to add more value to my drawing.  For my acrylic ink mixture, I’m using a combination of Burnt Umber and Payne’s Grey that has been diluted with water to create a light, transparent color.  

My coyote has a fair amount of dark colored fur, so I’m applying the ink to most areas of my drawing.  The only places where I’m not applying the ink wash are the areas of fur that will be light in value.  

Step 3: Next, I’m adding another layer of acrylic ink to further deepen the shadow areas of my drawing.  For this layer of acrylic ink, I used less water to dilute the mixture, so the color is slightly darker in value.  I’m only applying this layer of ink to the areas of my drawing that will be the darkest in value.  

Step 4: Finally, I’m using my dark grey, brown, and white colored pencils to add more detail to my drawing.  The dark grey adds further detail to the dark-valued areas, the brown adds some warmth to the middle-valued areas, and the white adds a bright pop that creates the lightest values.  

For artists who want to add more detail or further refine their work, the acrylic ink and colored pencil can be continually layered until their preferred level of finish is achieved.  You can find more information about using colored pencils in mixed media work through Strathmore’s online workshop Colored Pencil and Mixed Media.

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