Watercolour pencils are great for nature journaling, since they combine the accuracy of a pencil with the vibrant colour and flexibility of watercolour pigment. But I’ve found them tricky to use because the colour of the pencil applied dry to the paper can change a lot when water is applied. However, it’s all about practice and getting to know your materials and how they behave.

The other day I was excited to discover the wonderful resources provided by artist Cathy Johnson, and even happier when I realised I could borrow her book Painting Nature in Watercolour as an ebook from the State Library of Queensland. Cathy achieves stunning results with watercolour pencil when drawing nature, and also has a talent for explaining techniques in a simple and helpful manner. With this book as a guide, I’ve been playing with my watercolour pencils, and learning lots more about this medium.

For example, here’s a simple way of overcoming that problem of the pencil colours being different wet or dry. Make up some little guides to your pencils that are small enough to take with you on field trips:

Portable guides to how the colour of watercolour pencils (and Inktense pencils) change when wetted – a simple tip from Painting Nature in Watercolour with Cathy Johnson.

And here is a little sketch I completed yesterday from a photo taken at Carnarvon Gorge, central Queensland:

Thanks Cathy for the advice and inspiration! There’s a bit of a cool sea breeze blowing today, so I might even be able to get outside for some sketching without expiring in the heat.