Waterfall Book 13

Fish swimming up a waterfall
Graphite on paper, 7″ x 5″

I am the fish. This project is the waterfall. Also, a pair of staples have finally made their appearance. That means we’re now in the center of the notebook. With this 13th entry we’ve spilled over into the second half of the 25 two page spreads.

I hope everyone seeing these posts has enjoyed them so far. There’s just 12 left now, so let’s take each one as an opportunity to improve a little.

Waterfall Book 12

A gentle stream through a meadow

Ink on paper, 7″ x 5″, Click here for full sized image

This week was a struggle. I probably tried doing too many different things that I’m not used to in one drawing. It all started by hoping to make some positive changes after I critiqued myself about a few problem areas in my art. Stiffness and lack of accurate or realistic detail are near the top of the list and always have been. That lead to many last minute practice sketches unsuccessfully trying to copy someone else’s style that’s the opposite of mine. This week’s drawing is now the result of one adjustment to the original plan after another in an effort to cope with the unfamiliar territory.

Once the final plan was moving forward the hardest part was probably trying to force randomness and variation while only using a limited number of shapes. Towards the end it became a test of endurance to draw so many leaves, and then a rush to get it done and posted while it’s still Wednesday for me.

Materials used:
Koh-i-Noor rapidograph 00 (.3) technical pen with waterproof ink
Used for all the thin black lines. Autocorrect keeps wanting to called it a radiograph.

Kuretake brush pen #8 with non-waterproof ink
Used for dark shadows. The original plan was to take advantage of this ink being not waterproof and use a wet brush for blending and shading after it was on the paper along with either colored ink or watercolor after that. The moment I tried to blend it with water it bled through the paper. That ended all of those plans, so once again it was necessary to change course and adapt. That’s when the cross hatching started.

Waterfall Book 11

Waterfall Book 11

Graphite and colored pencil on paper, 7″ x 5″

This time I took a chance and added some color, using a rainbow of Koh-i-Noor colored pencils. It was an interesting and useful experiment.

At the start I was thinking about the part in the book of Acts when Paul and Barnabas were in Lystra, which is in the country of Turkey today. The people there had just seen a miracle of healing done through Paul and assumed he and Barnabas were the Greek gods those people worshipped. Paul attempted to correct this mistaken belief and explain the God they worshipped while pointing out His goodness and love as seen in nature, saying “Nevertheless He left not Himself without witness, in that He did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.”

My idea was to show the goodness of God in nature with a rainbow, which is both a sight of beauty and a symbol of God’s promise, amid the roughness of the rocks. Also, although the rocks are very rough at the top, at the bottom they’ve been washed smooth, to symbolize transformation of character.


Here’s the preliminary sketch. It was first roughed in with a wide pencil before adding the ink with a brush pen and a little white Conté pencil over that to lighten some of the ink.

Waterfall Book 10

Waterfall Book 10

Ink on paper, 7” x 5”

Last March I ordered a Kuretake #8 fountain brush pen but found it too intimidating to use and set it aside. Drawings that others make with brush pens seem so gracefully decisive, describing subjects with minimal lines and no mistakes. The packaging also listed many instructions, including symbols for dire warnings, but it was written entirely in Japanese. Hmm. Well, worries of messy lines and mysterious warnings finally brushed aside, the pen has been used today.

My basic idea here was a scene with a stream originating from a distant mountainous area that becomes gentler towards the foreground where it can be a source of blessing, based on some verses in the Bible. One of them was Psalm 23, verses 1 and 2 saying “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters.”

Another very appropriate verse I found later is Proverbs 25:25, “As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country.” This verse has a strong application in the New Testament as well. The word “gospel” literally means “good news” and in the famous scene of Jesus talking with the Samaritan woman at the well He presents Himself in terms of a well of water that quenches thirst in a way that the material things of this world never can. This is the thirst of a soul.


Here’s a clearer image of the waterfalls and sheep.

Waterfall Book 9

Waterfall Book 9

Mixed media on paper, 7” x 5”

The paper had to endure a lot this time. To start, I lightly covered everything with a charcoal pencil with a some white charcoal mixed in. Everything was coated with clear acrylic gesso. This blended the charcoal a little for a middle grey background, it sealed the charcoal so it wouldn’t smudge anymore, and it provided a toothy surface to draw on top of that was like fine sandpaper.

After that I switched to colored pencils. The abrasiveness of the clear gesso helped pick up the colored pencil, which was close to full strength without much pressure, but it wasn’t making the smoothest lines. In a few places more white was needed, but the gesso didn’t have enough tooth left to pick up more pencil, so I applied more clear gesso in that specific place. Once it was dry, the surface tooth was restored and the color below was sealed again, so it was as if working on fresh paper. The colored pencil could also be smudged by the wet brush though, so I had to be careful with that. The rain was made with a card used as a straight edge and a white pencil.

Waterfall Book 9 Tools

The tools I used this time were an old size 10 filbert brush from Loew-Cornell for the Liquitex clear gesso, white and black charcoal pencils from General’s, black, grey, and white colored pencils from Koh-I-Noor, and a black colored pencil from Tombow. The Tombow pencil went on the paper smoother, but required more pressure for a heavy application, and was useful for increasing the coverage of the black in some places or making finer lines. A few pencils I sharpened with a knife in a way that exposes a lot of lead so they can be used for a long time without sharpening, but the white charcoal lead broke right after I started using it. It has a much more brittle and crumbly lead.

Waterfall Book 9 Ideas

This is a sketch pad of 14″ x 11″ bristol board that I set up on a table easel. I’ve found that sketching ideas on large paper works much better for me. This allows easier exploration of an idea because related ideas can be grouped on one paper instead of separated on many papers. A drawing can be made on one part of the paper and then next to it a certain technique or medium can be experimented with. Here I used a lot of different media, including acrylic, watercolor pencil, and even a little water soluble wax paint that I just got and wanted to know how it’d work on paper. Using a large paper also allows for a non-linear development of an idea that may branch out into multiple possible options.

Waterfall Book 8

Waterfall Book 8

Graphite on paper, 7” x 5”

Another attempt at a different angle and another way of drawing water. I’m not sure that it really translates well as water though. The photo I used as a reference was obviously a waterfall, but actually drawing it was a bit of a challenge. The tools I used were the lead holder with HB lead, the softer woodless graphite pencil, and the Tombow eraser. I laid the notebook in the snow to take the photo because there was nothing outside that wasn’t covered in snow.

I just got back on the train from visiting family for the past couple of weeks, and I finally have access to my paints again to do something other than draw with pencils for a change.

People Sketches 1

Moleskin Sketches People 1

I want to start practicing drawing people again, so I found a few portraits from various old artists to copy in the small moleskin notebook from the last post. From left to right the original art for these are by John Singer Sargent, Anthony van Dyck, Hans Holbein the Younger, and Rembrandt van Rijn. I used a .3mm mechanical pencil with 2H lead.

Moleskin Sketches People 1 left

Moleskin Sketches People 1 right

Waterfall Book 7 and Sketches

Waterfall Book 7

Graphite on paper, 7″ x 5″

This time I added a fox and tried a different viewing angle. I think so far this project has been beneficial for me because each waterfall drawing I try to figure out a fresh view on the same basic subject, so to avoid repetitiveness I have to plan and try new things. In other words, you eventually have to start thinking outside the box. Adding a second point of interest, like animals, people, or buildings, also gives more options for the total composition, but I still want to explore a diversity of waterfall views and avoid simply drawing the same one over and over as only a backdrop for the other point of interest.

Waterfall Book 7 Tools

For this drawing I used an old graphite stick that at some point in the past I must have shaved to have a mostly rounded end. I don’t know the softness of it because it doesn’t have any writing on the side, but it’s something softer than HB. Also I used an old lead holder with HB lead in it, and the Tombow eraser again.

Here’s some drawings I made in a moleskin notebook during the past week.

Waterfall Book 6

Waterfall Book 6

Graphite on paper, 7″ x 5″

For this one I tried various tools on a sketch paper version of this drawing, but then settled on just using a Palomino Blackwing pencil and an eraser.

Waterfall Book 6 Tools

The strange point on the pencil is because lately I’ve been sharpening my pencils by carefully carving just the wood away with a sharp knife, which saves some of the graphite. The eraser on the pencil is good and I used it some, but the Tombow Mono let me erase small areas for the highlights on the tree branches in the background.

Waterfall Book 5

Waterfall Book 5

Ink, colored pencil, and charcoal on paper, 7″ x 5″

This time I wanted to try using ink from a bottle. Originally I was going to use a dip pen that makes very thin lines, but in my idea sketches I tried a bamboo pen, a palette knife, and then a foam brush. They all worked well and produced unique results. I especially liked how the foam brush produced many parallel lines when it had only a little bit of ink on the tip, which is how I made the falling water, and how easy it was to cover larger areas with it, so that’s the one I choose. The ink started to bleed through the paper just a little though, so the next drawing on the other side of the paper will need to be planned to cover that up.

Once the ink was dry I could color over the top of it with pencils or white charcoal to add highlights and various details. The dark areas of the water at the bottom are black charcoal smudged smooth with a rolled paper blender.

Waterfall Book 5 Tools

Here’s all of the tools I used for this drawing.