Posted on Tue 18 Jun 2019
Starting along the artistic path is often fraught with conflicting advice and we can end up purchasing and owning items that rarely see the light of day. A recent innovation by HomeHobby by 3L has made complete painting or drawing sets available to anyone wishing to start work on this inspiring hobby. I was fortunate to be given two packs to evaluate recently. Each box contains a selection of art materials selected and compiled by award-winning artists.
Sketch for beginners
The first set is entitled the Sketch Studio kit, selected by professional artist, Robin Berry. Individual boxes are helpfully graded to the student’s ability, ranging from beginner through four stages of development to advanced. The set I received was marked as a set for the beginner. Within the sturdy cardboard box is a range of basic materials, including a sketch set comprising of two charcoal pencils, one charcoal, two charcoal sticks, a tortillon or paper blending stump, and a putty rubber.
In addition there are four sketching pencils ranging from 2H to 8B, 12 watercolour pencils, two fibre-tipped pens, a sharpener, a 40-page sketchpad and a collection of loose-leaved instructions containing a range of sketching tips and advice.
A wide variety of art techniques are covered, beginning with the basics of sketching. This explores the range of drawing instruments provided, to a series of step-by-step instructions that gradually progress through degrees of difficulty to help you hone your drawing skills. Helpful advice is included, such as using circles and triangles to form the basis of your artwork, plus there are clear images included which will help you to complete two finished works of art.
One of the instructions I found interesting was the different ways you could add form to a circular shape by using a number of different shading techniques, which allowed me to try out both the pencil sets and also the fibre-tipped pens, which were included.
Circles and spheres, (18x25.5cm)
There are good tips on how to draw a freehand circle followed by advice on hatching, cross-hatching, contour hatching and stippling. I decided to change to the pens provided to cover the area that required adding shadows to create solidity and form to the initially drawn ball. I use a number of these techniques myself in work such as my Lancaster sketch, which uses a variety of these techniques to describe the form of the aircraft.
Avro Lancaster MK IX, Sketch Studio kit, (20x25.5cm)
Develop your work
The materials in the set do not just limit you to basic sketching techniques. Some drawing instruments are included to take your art even further. I decided to explore the charcoal, charcoal sticks and charcoal pencils, which formed the sketch set.
The charcoal is formed from a piece of burned willow. I used this soft stick to create a dark square on the sketchpad. Then using the putty rubber began to remove some of the applied charcoal to form a woodland scene. This technique is known as a charcoal reduction drawing. Once happy with what was created, I used the brown charcoal stick to form detail.
For the distant bank of trees, I used the paper-blending stump to soften and push the colour into the paper. To add the branch detail and define some of the tree edges, the softer of the two charcoal pencils provided was used. Finally, I switched to the black charcoal stick and added ivy to the main tree, defined the fence then added cast shadows across the path. It’s a good idea to source and apply a fixative spray to a study such as this to help preserve the work.
Woodland Walk, Sketch Studio kit, (15x20cm)
The second set I explored was the Watercolour Studio kit, which has been specially selected by Kristin Ranney, a contemporary watercolour artist from the US. This set offers a comprehensive selection of watercolour paints, brushes, a ten-well paint tray, an A4 pad of cold-pressed watercolour paper, watercolour pencils and watercolour pastels along with comprehensive step-by-step instructions, which include a colour wheel to help you understand the basics of colour. There are also step-by-step instructions on how to produce three watercolour paintings, which gradually increase in degrees of ability to challenge you to push your watercolour skills further.
This box is clearly marked for the beginner and as such does not contain an exercise that covers the watercolour pencils or watercolour pastels included. So I decided to put all the materials to use and created the painting, The Observatory Tower, Port Meirion. Using the watercolour paper provided, I picked up the orange watercolour pencil to sketch out the scene. After this I took the light blue pastel and using a craft knife, scraped pigment dust into the sky area followed by dark blue in the upper part and red in the lower part. Using the No. 20 (3⁄4in.) flat brush I wetted the sky area and dissolved the pastel allowing the colours to blend together and form the sky.
Once dry, I added dry dark blue and violet pastel into the distant hills. A thin sheet of paper was used as a mask to maintain the sharp edge of the water. Breaking off a short piece of yellow ochre I applied a series of horizontal strokes down to the base of the paper. Using the flat No. 20 brush I wetted the entire lower half of the paper then worked directly into the damp bank to the right of the tower with the watercolour pencils, forming the trees and bushes with the dark green, light blue and black pencils.
Once the surface was dry, the tower was painted by scribbling the pastels onto a sheet of scrap paper then using this as a palette. Using the No. 4 brush, I mixed dark blue and red pastel with water to make a shadow colour and added it to the side of the tower.
The roof was added with a sharp black watercolour pencil. Layers of dry ochre yellow and brown pastel were applied to the sandbank. I added splatter to the right side by flicking the edge of a black pastel with a damp brush. Finally, I added white pastel to the edge of the tower catching the sunlight and to the expanse of water in the distance.
The Observatory Tower, Port Meirion, Watercolour Studio kit, (20x25.5cm)
HOMEHOBBY BY 3L KITS
Three more levels are available in these watercolour studio kits: intermediate, advanced and experienced, which can all be bought from www.123-creative.com/shop. Sketch Studio kits are available in Basic and Plus. Watercolour Studio kits are also available in Basic and Plus. There are also studio sets available to cover other media, including acrylics. The kits are part of a full learning experience. You can meet the artists at homehobby.com and also learn how to sketch and paint using step-bystep instructions on the blog at 123-creative.online, where HomeHobby artists share their work to inspire you into improving your own creative abilities.