Sketching On Toned Paper

I’m no expert to artist materials.  Most of the time when I talk about using them the discourse begins with me saying “This is the first time that…”  This is almost true of my use of toned paper in my sketching activities.  During last summer I made a small sketchbook from toned paper (Canson Mi-Teintes) and I did a few pen sketches in it.  Unfortunately, the sketchbook itself wasn’t stiff enough (thin covers) to work well as a sketchbook to use on location while I held it in my hand.

Now that it’s winter and very cold here, I’ve been working a lot in museums.  This shift in location and subject matter has been coupled by me doing some experimenting with different tools and materials and recently I’ve done a couple sketches on single sheets of gray, toned paper and I thought I’d share them here.

2013-01-15Nigeria6_700The first was done at the Musée de la Civilisation, in a large Nigeria exhibit that features lots of masks and headdresses used in ceremonies.  This one was done in Canson Mi-Teintes paper.  As I am also trying to learn how to use a pencil as a sketching medium, I used the smooth side of this paper and it worked well.  Not being a pencil guru, I started layout with a 3H pencil and ultimately ended up with an HB mechanical pencil.  Nothing special here and, I’m sure, most pencil experts will probably cringe that I didn’t use softer pencils.  I added a bit of highlight using a Prismacolor white pencil but I was fairly tentative in this as I’ve never done that before at all.  Still, the results ended up better than I expected.

The next sketch I did was done during our 38th Worldwide Sketchcrawl, which we did at the Musée de Francais and its associated chapel.  The chapel has been ‘secularized’ and is rented out for meetings and banquets.  Still, its walls are still adorned with statues of saints, the windows are stained glass, and a huge alter remains.

2013-01-08Seminaire38thSketchcrawl700But I love to sketch buildings and being driven indoors by snow and cold is frustrating.  I took advantage of the sketchcrawl to set my tripod stool in front of a huge window that looked out on a courtyard that was bordered by a very long, probably 150+ feet long building.  Rather than capture the entire structure, I decided to concentrate on a slice of it and I came up with this sketch.

This sketch was done on Strathmore Series 400 “toned gray” paper.  I bought a 9×12 spiral sketchbook of this stuff.  The sheets are perforated and can be easily separated from the sketchbook.  I did the linework with a Pilot Prera filled with Noodler’s Lexington Gray ink.  The suggestion of snow was added using the same Prismacolor pencil I used in the first sketch.  I like this paper a lot.  It’s much cheaper than the Canson paper and it’s a great pencil paper.  I felt that it was a bit too absorptive for ink, though.  A heavy line tends to feather a bit.

I really like drawing on toned paper.  I’m less wild about using single sheets of paper for my sketching and wish Stillman & Birn would create a gray version of its Epsilon sketchbooks.  A sketcher has to have a dream (grin).

7 Responses to “Sketching On Toned Paper”

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  1. Tina says:

    Nice toned sketches, Larry. I’ve been using the same Strathmore paper in figure drawing open studios with soft pencil and a white colored pencil for highlights. It’s a relief to be able to put the highlights in later instead of having to remember to keep them white! You know, when I first started hearing rumors about a new “Zeta” paper coming from S & B, I speculated (hoped) that it would be a toned paper! Alas. But maybe that’s next! We can start that rumor. 🙂

  2. Tina says:

    One more thing: Have you seen these Strathmore toned journals?
    http://www.dickblick.com/products/strathmore-hardbound-toned-sketch-journal/?clickTracking=true
    They don’t open flat like S & B, of course, but at least they are hardbound. I think I prefer the spiralbound pads, though.

  3. It’s a nice paper for dry media. I like the shade of gray. I have seen one of the new Strathmore journals with the brown covers but it had white paper. I probably would have bought it if it had gray paper. When it comes to white or cream I’ll stick with S&B, and dream of gray Zeta paper 🙂

    Cheers — Larry

    • Caroline says:

      Strathmore now do a grey and a light brown paper wire bound journal; they have finally hit Australia so you should be able to get hold of them too. The size I have is about A4, the same size as the larger Mixed Media journal. They open flat.
      I love your mask, saw it on FB, its fascinating, and no, this did not set my anti-virus program screaming, though I do have all scripts on this page blocked.
      Cheers!

  4. Yes, Caroline, that’s what I bought. Green cover and perforated pages. Great bargain in my opinion. The problem with my 9×12 is that with the spiral binding, it won’t fit into my sketching bag so I have to remove the paper to carry it.

    Cheers — Larry

  5. Wendy says:

    I am also,enjoying working on toned paper with a pen and a white Prismacolour. I changed to white S&B for my trip to the beach because I prefer the toned paper for hard edged city things. Mine is Canson Mi-teintes handmade, hard cover, square.

  6. I really like the Canson Mi-teintes, at least the smooth side of it. It’s a better quality paper than the Strathmore 400 paper but, of course, it’s also more expensive. The more I use it the more I think the Canson paper is better for pencils of any kind. For ink, however, the Strathmore paper is fine.

    Cheers — Larry