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Old 09-26-2017, 09:02 AM
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Disappointed in Inktense

Hey, all,

Haven't been around much lately but wanted to check in and see what's going on. I'm still working on my daylily and should have an update later this week. It's turning into a bit of a slog but so far I'm happy with it.

Last week I ordered a small set of Derwent Inktense CPs and the matching color sticks and spent some time this past weekend playing with them. I have to say I am not impressed. The colors are OK and I actually rather liked some of the greens, but I didn't like how they felt at all. Using them dry and putting them on lightly, they were fine but I couldn't get them to go on smoothly at higher pressure. The color kept clumping up and couldn't be smoothed out.

Once I had a light layer and a heavier layer, I tried adding water to each with a soft brush and it looked like nothing happened. I was kind of expecting it to "explode with color" as their advertising would have it but it was a fizzle. I left half of each sample dry so I could compare before and after but, honestly, I could barely tell the difference.

Now, to be fair and in the interests of full disclosure , I was testing on Bristol Smooth paper which is interesting to use with regular pencils and might just be too smooth for this type of pencil. I intend to try again with a rougher paper. I also haven't had a chance to play with the sticks but I think they will be more fun. I want to try powdering a stick with an old tea strainer and sprinkling it on a light water wash. I expect that will be fun if nothing else.

Does anyone else use these pencils and can you recommend a more successful method of using them?
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Old 09-26-2017, 09:45 AM
lisapencil lisapencil is offline
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Re: Disappointed in Inktense

I am just doing quite a complex background of reeds using inktense. I found putting on many light layers (about 20 layers) and then applying zest-it works quite well but I am working on textured mountboard. As far as I am aware you should add a lot of water/turpentine as this causes the colour to lift but I am no expert. Hope this helps. Also some colours work better than others, as some colours can be more transparent.
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Old 09-26-2017, 03:26 PM
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Re: Disappointed in Inktense

Sharie - Probably the problem is that when using water the best paper for the job is one for watercolour. If you are planning to combine it with regular dry CPs, pick a Hot Pressed one, with less texture than the Cold...

There is a UK author, artist and great teacher, Trudy Friend, who has books where she uses water-soluble pencils (Inktense and others) combined with others. You could also find videos, if not on YouTube at least in her website. She uses light layers, mainly to "glaze", but that information I believe is covered only in her books.

Lisa - Using a solvent for a pigment especially formulated to dissolve with water is far from the ideal way to handle it!
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Old 09-26-2017, 05:18 PM
Pingpongfan Pingpongfan is offline
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Re: Disappointed in Inktense

I have a few Inktense pencils and they do "explode with colour" when wet with water. I do only put down one layer, wet it, let it dry and do the next layer. Trying to do several layers dry first, doesn' t seem to work so well. If you do, the pigment does seem to clump. As Raquel said, watercolour paper is the best surface to use and water the only solvent.
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Old 09-27-2017, 02:29 AM
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Re: Disappointed in Inktense

I have pencils and sticks but I really only use them for painting fabric (because once wetted, the ink dries fixed and permanent. Perfect for doing backgrounds to embroider over). I scribble them onto scrap watercolour paper to make a palette, and use them onto stretched fabric like watercolours. I also grate the sticks with a tiny spice grater and sprinkle the tiny grains onto wet background.

You have to be careful not to get the stick or the pencil lead wet though, as the wetness activates the wet area to dry fixed and permanent, forming a solid non-soluble outer layer on the stick/lead, which you then have to remove before you can use the stick/pencil again.

Personally I wouldn't even try to use them for proper CP fine art work - in my opinion the colours and application just don't compare with good quality watersoluble pencils like Supracolor or Albrecht Durer. I would only use them when permanence is required.
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Old 09-27-2017, 08:45 AM
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Re: Disappointed in Inktense

Thanks for the feedback, all.

Lisa, I agree some of the colors are better than others. The Sea Blue, while a pretty color, was the worst for clumping and I couldn't seem to get a smooth layer no matter how delicate I was.

Raquel, I have Trudy's book on CPs and will dig it out. I set it aside when I realized she was using water-solubles and forgot about it! Thanks for the reminder.

Vena, I tried it both ways - one layer and then saturated and neither one was much good. But since everyone recommends trying a rougher paper, I'll try that out this weekend and report back. I have a pad of Arches HP 140# that should do the trick.

Claudia, what a good idea! I never thought about using them to work on fabric. I do seem to recall a warning about not wetting the sticks themselves - good to know. How's your finch project coming along? I loved the progress shot you posted a week or 2 back.
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Old 09-27-2017, 01:11 PM
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Re: Disappointed in Inktense

The T Friend book I mentioned is Drawing and Painting Flowers, which has a lot of information about water-solubles, including Inktense.

I have only used W/S on the edge of a picotee Amaryllis, and it was a great way to start. I used to be a member of the UKCPS, and through them got a whole set of Aquatico, which are good (we don't hear about them now!), but I prefer the Albrecht Durer. Also used the Neocolor II on sanded grounds. I will post some of that in my WIPs thread soon...

I never thought about using them for fabric. Thanks Claudia!
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Old 09-29-2017, 08:31 AM
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Re: Disappointed in Inktense

I just finished this. This background was done with Inktense blocks. For this I used a big brush onto wet fabric so it's very diffused/blurry. Of course you can also use a small brush onto dry fabric for painting more detail.

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Old 09-29-2017, 02:10 PM
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Re: Disappointed in Inktense

Claudia, you're so talented! What a neat idea! Did you create the embroidery pattern, too? The whole piece is lovely.

After seeing this, I spotted an older article you might enjoy that would let you use your Prismas on fabric, too. Probably you already know about this but maybe not.

Have a great weekend!
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Old 09-29-2017, 04:29 PM
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Re: Disappointed in Inktense

I've only used inktense for illustrations for a small pop of that extraordinary color.
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Old 10-01-2017, 08:52 AM
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Re: Disappointed in Inktense

Quote:
Originally Posted by Garden Maker
Claudia, you're so talented! What a neat idea! Did you create the embroidery pattern, too? The whole piece is lovely.

After seeing this, I spotted an older article you might enjoy that would let you use your Prismas on fabric, too. Probably you already know about this but maybe not.

Have a great weekend!

Thanks Sharie! Yes, it's my own design, although I can't really call it a design - I just sketched some of the stems and flower heads in at the start, and then I freestyled, adding bits as I went along. It's very relaxing to do! It requires less concentration then coloured pencil work, and I can just do it with my feet up in front of the TV.

Thanks for that link - I've only just recently found out about using coloured pencils on fabric and I'm fascinated. There seems to be lots of different things you can do. I've seen some beautiful examples where people have used freehand machine embroidery to create outlines, and then coloured in with Inktense pencils. That's yet another thing I'll probably have a go at!!
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Old 10-01-2017, 01:14 PM
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Re: Disappointed in Inktense

I agree that the Bristol paper will cause the clumping. It is just not absorbent enough. I have used inktense and have a set, and I really love them when I use them.
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Old 10-01-2017, 04:47 PM
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Re: Disappointed in Inktense

I just tested my new set of 24 Inktense pencils on watercolour paper and they behaved nicely and very colourful.

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Old 10-02-2017, 02:02 PM
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Re: Disappointed in Inktense

Well, I gave them another go this weekend on Arches HP paper and the difference was immediately apparent. MUCH better! Will definitely keep experimenting with these on watercolor paper.

Claudia, glad you enjoyed the link. Please post more of your experiments - it's fun to see them.

Minerva, thanks for posting your swatches. They're lovely!
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Old 10-06-2017, 04:47 AM
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Re: Disappointed in Inktense

Ah, glad to hear it went better on the Arches paper. I love that paper for water media. I just wish they did a whiter version. I'd be really interested to see anything you do with your Inktense - I've had mine ages and hardly used them so I'd appreciate some inspiration.

Are you working loose and free with them, or using them as an underlayer for other CP? I'd definitely be interested to know how you get on with them once you get more familiar.
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