Preparing for winter sketching


Autumn is upon us, and my drawing materials are starting to give me some problems. The Platinum Carbon Black ink that I usually fill my fountain pens with, is hard to use when the temperature goes below 10°C or so. It takes forever to dry in low temperatures, and I keep laying my hand in it, smearing the lines. But this is easy to fix, I´ll just use waterproof fineliners instead when drawing outdoors. They don´t give me quite the same feeling as a fountain pen, but they are ok. I can live with them.

What is harder to take is the fact that the watercolours also take forever to dry in the cold. I love the versatility of watercolours, they give me the possibility to mix any colour I want, and if I let go of some control, I can get an enormous amount of variations and surprises from them. Plus they are very easy to carry with you. Now I am realising I have to find another solution for the coming winter.


I started experimenting last year with using large grayscale PITT Artist´s pens for drawing outdoors in the cold, because big tools are easier to hold with mittens on. But I must say I missed the colours after a while. I could just buy some coloured PITT pens, but I decided to go for these these Koh-I-Noor Hardtmuth Magic coloured pencils instead. Very lightweight, and short, so they´re easy to fit into a pen case in the bag. They are a bit bigger than usual pencils, so should be ok to hold even with mittens. (I coloured the Eldorado at home, simply because I forgot to put the pencils in my bag when I headed out. Plus, my fingers were frozen by the time the ink drawing was done…)

But what I like most about these pencils is the fact that each coloured lead inside the pensils consists of several colours, sometimes tones of the same colour (for exampe light, middle and dark blue) and sometimes more varied mixes, such as the yellow-pink-red in the photo above. Drawing with them gives a little more variation and a little less control than the usual coloured pencils, and this suits me fine. You´ll be seeing some more of these on this blog during the cold season ahead of us.

7 Responses to “Preparing for winter sketching”

  1. Fun to hear of someone else dealing with the fall to winter materials conversion. I had the problem you mentioned with PCB just the other day when I was outdoors sketching at 3C. My hands were so frozen, though, I hardly cared. I think my outdoor sketching may be over for the year.

    So, the watercolor kit comes out of my bag and the watercolor pencils go in. These satisfy a lot of demands and yet are more museum friendly, which is where I spend a lot of winter time. I’ve also started using some of the Uniball UM151 pens, which are fine, waterproof, and their brown-black ink is simply wonderful.

    Happy winter to you, Nina. — Larry

    • Thanks Larry! Yes, winter is a bit of a problem, but it´s also a fun challenge. You have to draw faster and find other materials than your usual comfortable ones, so I´m thinking it´s kind of good for me, even though my fingers freeze. :)
      I saw your post about the UM151s the other day, sounds interesting. I think I have seen them somewhere in Stockholm, but never tried them. My have to do that.

      • I agree about winter challenges being good for us but I’m a sissy. I grew up in Arizona and cold and I just don’t get along. But winter (last year was my first as a sketcher) caused me to change locations (indoors, mostly at museums), materials (watercolor pencils), and more importantly, subjects. I learned so much about drawing by sketching a wide range of subjects. I’m hoping this winter will be similar in that regard.

        Cheers — Larry

  2. RobW says:

    We have the opposite problem here in Australia at the moment. Summer has not yet arrived but it has been very hot, with smoke and particles from bush fires making it very difficult to paint outdoors. The water dries out too quickly and you end up with dust in your washes. OK for ink, though.

    My solution for colour is Derwent Inktense pencils – not ideal but they keep the hand in.

    • Interesting, Rob! I have experienced the watercolours drying too fast because of the heat – annoying, but I can deal with it – but smoke and particles doesn´t sound good at all! I have seen the headlines even up here about the fires raging in Australia, hope they can control it in a not too far away future.
      I kind of like the Inktense too, I have a few, but I am always a bit shocked about the strength of the pigments in them. They are incredibly strong!

  3. Interesting post Nina. Good luck with this winter’s sketching.

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