Designing Quilts with Watercolor Pencils

I am currently taking an online art quilt design class, “Working In Series”, taught by Elizabeth Barton through the Academy of Quilting.  It is a very interesting class.  As my class project I am working on quilts with the theme of circles.  I have chosen to concentrate on the idea of fractured circles using gradated color schemes.

One of the teacher’s suggestions was to use watercolors to come up with quilt designs and work out color schemes.  I don’t own any watercolor paints at the moment, but I did find some watercolor pencils in my art supplies, so I decided to work with them.  This is not going to teach me one of the main lessons the teacher intended — which is to work fairly fast and loose.  I think I will purchase a small watercolor paint set next time I am off the island so I can learn the lesson she intended (since working fast and loose is definitely not my style!), but for now I am working with my watercolor pencils.

You can find some excellent videos online describing how to use watercolor pencils, so I won’t go into too much detail here.  But here are my tools and the results I have developed for my “fractured circles” theme.

First, the tools.  You need some watercolor pencils – I only own a set of 12, so my color palette is quite limited.  Next you need heavy drawing paper (watercolor paper if you have it), some water, clean paper towels for blotting up the water, and a small paint brush or two.  A good art eraser and a pencil sharpener would also be helpful.  In addition to the small brushes, I added a brush with a built in water reservoir that I purchased when I got the watercolor pencils.  It is really cool  — you just squeeze the tube and water comes out in the brush.  Good for working in large areas, but not as precise as a brush that you dip in water.  Here is a photo of the pencils and brushes:

Watercolor pencils and brushes

Watercolor pencils and brushes

And here are a few of my results.   I did lots of them, so I am only showing you the ones I like best.  I like the ability to explore color and design options quickly without wasting any fabric.  The color really helps me evaluate the designs.

Watercolor study 2

Watercolor study 2

Watercolor study 3

Watercolor study 3

Watercolor study 5

Watercolor study 5

Watercolor study 6

Watercolor study 6

Watercolor study 7

Watercolor study 7

As you can see I had limited color choices due to my set of only 12 pencils.  If I learn anything more from the actual watercolor paints (especially if it actually succeeds in loosening up my style), I will report back later.

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