Monday, February 13, 2017

Brookgreen Landscape

Brookgreen Gardens is in South Carolina. It is a wonderful place to stroll among beautiful plants and art. It started as a sculpture garden and still displays sculpture among the many exotic planting. It also has a zoo of farm and native animal.

The price of admission is good for 2 days, and you are welcome to come and sit, sketch and photograph anywhere and for any length of time.

Well worth a visit if you visit the islands along the coast of South Carolina.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Many shades of Gray.

Working on this heron, I am using many, many grays.

Working on my Lesser Blue Heron, I am constantly reaching for gray pencils. I have a lot of them!



Working Definition of gray:
adjective, grayer, grayest. 
1. of a color between white and black; having a neutral hue.
2. dark, dismal, or gloomy: gray skies.
3. dull, dreary, or monotonous. 
4. having gray hair; gray-headed. 
5. pertaining to old age; mature.
9. any achromatic color; any color with zero chroma, intermediate between white and black. 
10. something of this color.
Cool Grays


In art, gray is anything but dull. It is essential to any painting. You cannot work without gray. It is what gives life and depth to any 2-d artwork, what makes it pop or look real.


Far from being neutral or dull, gray comes in a wide variety of hues and chroma.


The definition of Chroma:

1. the purity of a color, or its freedom from white or gray.
2. intensity of distinctive hue; saturation of a color


But gray has its own intensity and saturation of color. And it does come in colors! Any pure color can and does have its version of gray. Warm, cool, French etc. I have a beautiful green-gray and a very useful rose-gray. Purples lend themselves to fantastic grays. Ask any floral or landscape artist how they could work without creating the essential grays. Same with portraits.


One of the things that makes both graphite and silverpoint beautiful to me is the vibrancy of the gray tones.


I love gray.

I could not draw or paint without it. Each time I create a painting I am mixing a new, exciting shade of gray.

And right now nothing is more popular than gray. Look at the color charts in any paint department. Gray comes in more than 50 shades and each is beautiful.


Lots of grays, from French to warm to cool.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Landscapes in Colored Pencil

I see a lot of colored pencil drawings/painting both from artists friends here and others that I have made through the internet. Most are beautiful and most are of single subjects, still lifes or portraits. Few are landscapes in the tradition of the masters.

Color pencil simply seems to lend itself to find detail of a single subject. A flower a beloved pet or the arrangement of objects.

Doing a landscape in colored pencil is less common.

Most I do single subjects in colored pencil. I seldom construct a complete picture, something with a background, mid-ground and foreground. I have to wonder why.

I am working on a landscape in colored pencil right now. It is of a scene in Brook-green gardens, a public garden in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. It is giving me fits. I am simply not used to working on a complete painting in colored pencil.

But I am finding that I must approach it as I would an oil painting. Even the way I hold the pencils is more like a paint brush, less like a standard pencil. So I am making brushstrokes with my pencils. Blending the colors as I would paint on a canvas.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Are you afraid of the darks?


Sometimes it can be intimidating to lay down that really dark layer. Afraid to go too dark. Even when you know, when all your artistic senses tell you that the dark is correct. It still can be difficult to commit to that rich full dark pigment.


While I don’t have as much trouble with this when I paint with oils, with colored pencil or any medium that you work light to dark I have trouble laying down the darkest colors. Without these rich tones however, you lighter hues just are not as rich and full as they need to be. With the truly well developed darks the entire piece will be flattened, monotoned and uninteresting. Unfullfilling. Without the darks the lights lack sparkle.


Monday, May 9, 2016

For the Birds

Here it is so far. My Heron.
So far I am simply trying to keep the shape of the bird, the location of the major feathers and keep from destroying the drawing. At this point, I am thinking, "why did I start this?"
I do this all the time.
Once I get into a project, I am sure it is beyond me and feel like a total failure.
I can't do this.
I am no good, I will never get these detail right, who wants to draw all these features any ways, and why, if I have to do it, I did not simply paint it, It would be easier!
Leave this to real artists.
I always feel this way,
Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Editing the Landscape

I think I might have bitten off more than I can chew!

This is a totally dense picture, and it will take a lot of patience to develop all the layers needed. Not just layers of colored pencil, but layers and layers of details.

I was working on it more or less as a drawing. Flat, laid out on a table, but that just is not working for me.

This drawing will have to be approached more like a painting, upright and looking to develop depth.

So it is back to the easel, upright and with my pencils held more like a brush. I need to see the entire drawing as it develops. I need to step away and view how each grouping relates to all the other areas of the work. With an oil painting, I would work dark to light, but with colored pencil I will need to work more like a watercolor, light to dark. I am working to locate the major shapes, the large blocks of value, and leaving my areas of light coming through the trees. How to select what to put, what to leave out.

The trees themselves are presenting more of a challenge. Both the rough texture of the bark along with the mosses and leaves covering all surfaces. These trees are a wealth of color and texture. Not just the bark, although that is challenge enough. These are old trees. They have lived and endured and they show it. Every time I look at them I see what a wide range of colors! From the darkest browns, up through actual white. Highlights and scaring. Mosses and lichens. Texture. What I do not see is actual black, except for the boles.

Green. Not a simple color under any circumstances, simply explodes here. The Spanish moss ranges from light almost white green down through gray-dark.

This is going to be a matter of editing. It does not work to simply try to draw each leaf and blade of grass. There are strong shapes here, but also highlights and texture. How do I convey the idea of the dense landscape without making a jumbled mess of it.  

Monday, April 25, 2016

Using Wax Blender Pencil

Working on a dark background can present real challenges for colored pencil. Unlike oil paints, you cannot count on pigments to overshadow the dark underlayment. Also, you do not get the reflective qualities of Titanium white, which is why canvases are usually coated in white paint before you start painting.

Titanium white is highly reflective. That is why it is chosen for this under layer. As the light passes through the layers of oil paint, it is reflected back and brighten by Titanium white.

White and super white papers perform the same function for colored pencils. Many do not realized just how transparent colored pencils are. But they are. Not as transparent as watercolors, but someplace more transparent than Quash. Now, you can get very good, very dramatic results using colored or toned papers and backgrounds, but you do have to know how to work with it.

For the small Heron drawing, on a dark toned paper from Colourfix, I am using a combination of studio white pencils, and a clear wax blender pencil from Prisma color. Putting down a layer of pure binder wax, which is what a blender pencil is, will give me a good base to blend in the many, many shades of white/blue and gray that make up this bird.

On this blue/gray background the pure wax is leaving a coating of white wax that will allow great blending. It will also add to the drama of the finished piece, acting as a reflecting layer underneath the pigmented layers.