Using Derwent Inktense Paints with Urban Sketcher Ian Fennelly

Ian Fennelly is an artist – perhaps more specifically an urban sketcher – who uses loose washes and detailed pen work to build up his characterful landscape artworks. His artworks typically take 2-3 hours to complete. We’ve asked Fennelly to explain how he uses the extremely vibrant and portable Derwent Inktense Paint Pan to create his artworks on the go. Read on to be inspired by Fennelly’s fantastic landscapes, and pick up tips on looking and expressing the emotions found within and brought about by your surroundings.


When drawing on location I see with colour, and as an urban sketcher I select and adapt colours to suit the image I want to create. Inktense paints allow me to do this through the varied range of colours and hues that are available in each palette.

Monmartre by Ian Fennelly – using sweeping colour paint building facades

I begin my process by painting in the big shapes with Inktense. This might be the façade of a building or the arch of a bridge. It’s often painted quite loosely with plenty of water to sweep the Inktense paint across the page. Working outside in all types of weather means you often need to work quickly, so the way the Inktense softens when you lay the wet brush on the pan is perfect for activating the colour that you need to shape out the overall structure of the sketch.

Montelpulciano by Ian Fennelly – layering shades of quick-drying colour

The Inktense paints dry quickly which is significant. It enables me to layer colours and mix on the page, which is a part of my journey of looking. It takes time to notice subtle hues and tones; so being able to layer and adjust the colours as the overlap, becomes a big part of the visual recording process.

Ian Fennelly – using vibrant colours to add personality to work

The choice of colours is very personal for an artist, and we all respond to colours in different ways. The Inktense range covers all the bases: from vibrant to subtle, warm to cold. The fantastic names such as mango, kiwi and poppy red, have a real character of their own. I sometimes feel that I’m not just adding paint to my work, but also introducing a personality. Who couldn’t get excited about using colours such as fuchsia, tangerine and sherbet lemon? Having this range of colour in the pan set enables you to record the world with vibrancy and freshness.

Ian Fennelly – adding detail on top of layered Inktense 

The final stage of my urban sketching is the detail, sometimes with pen but often with paint and colour. I often use a small rigger brush to capture the fine painted lines necessary to describe cobbles, windows or brickwork. So using Inktense to achieve this is perfect as it enables me to layer and draw on top of the initial painted washes, and the whole process fits in perfectly with the journey of looking, from big stuff to small.

Ian Fennelly – layered Inktense with additional detail added with paint and pen marks

The ability to carry your materials on location is key. The Inktense paint sets are compact and easily portable, and so I’d recommend them to anyone who like myself is involved in their own personal journey of looking and recording the world.

Kloveniers Burgwal by Ian Fennelly


Rio de Greci by Ian Fennelly

Romerberg, Frankfurt by Ian Fennelly


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