Saturday, 20 October 2012

Painting with wine

Concentrate on the left-hand bunch
The first time I used wine when colouring my sketches, it was a mistake. One glass of water (for painting), on of wine (for drinking) - and I dipped the brush in the wrong glass! I am usually creating sketches of an evening after work, either on the terrace in the garden, or by the fire; and I don't ALWAYS accompany these sessions by drinking! The second time was sitting in a field of long grass with the most spectacular meadow flowers and I was sketching whilst enjoying a picnic. My sketch kit that day did not include water, so the glass of wine was used of necessity - though I poured a drop into the top of the thermos flask having drunk all our coffee. The effect of wine on sketching pen, and aqua pencils was lovely, and I have continued experiments from time to time. The wine has the effect of sealing pen lines to a certain extent, and I keep one of those miniature wine sample bottles in my work space.

Trial 'painting with wine'
Of late, there has been no need for these experiments, because I usually now draw with a Uni-ball Signo Gel Grip pen; it isn't a permanent marker but if left to dry overnight, it is perfectly waterproof next day and you can paint over the lines with either a watercolour wash, or neat paint and it does not smudge. But yesterday evening, I wanted to capture the feel of the bunch of flowers I bought over a week ago in the Ludlow Food Centre. They were so fresh they had hardly faded, and the hydrangea petals were becoming quite papery with such subtle colouring. I had mislaid my Signo pen and only had a Pentel EnerGel which, although it dries is never waterproof - wet the paper with paint and it smudges badly, turning any applied watercolour to mud. I experimented with a drop of wine immediately over the watercolour - though I used Koh-i-Noor Hardmuth solid colour blocks (more like a dye than watercolour); the effect with a brush was too heavy - the lines almost washed off the paper, and I had to draw over the colour wash.

My finished painting
But I was determined to capture the flowers (similar to the left hand bunch in the top picture) and tried a totally different technique. I used Daler-Rowney Langton Not (Cold Pressed) fine grain 140lb 10in x 7in (254mm x 178mm) and quickly produced what I term a 'scribble drawing'. Then I dipped my fingers in the wine and slid them over the sketch, using the pad of my middle finger to blend the lines a little. I rather liked the way the ink spread over the paper - but the ink badly stained my fingers and had to be scrubbed off! I used a brush to wash on a little Koh-i-Noor colour for the hydrangeas and the blue vase, whilst the flowers were still damp, dipping the brush into the wine. Miraculously, the black lines seemed to be sealed by the finger-rubbing with the first application of wine. The result may be rubbish, but I will never now forget the beauty of the flowers and somehow, by painting them, they will forever remind me of the day I bought them. This is a technique I will pursue I think with landscape sketches.


  1. I think you've achieved some lovely effects, especially using water soluble pens. I use a Stabilo .88 which does a similar thing. Just out of interest, have you ever come across the work of Carne Griffiths? He uses vodka and tea to paint with alongside inks and watercolour. His paintings are spectacular, if you google his name his webiste should come up.

  2. It's not rubbish! It's vibrant and alive. xx

  3. You have made me smile today. Painting with wine...I like the concept! Very nice soft effects.