Monday, May 11, 2015

Horse, Rider and Dog 3: Details


starting details

With any portrait, the face tells it all. If you do not get the face right the rest is a waste of time.


Now is the time to fix the shapes that give you the likeness. You need to be able to fix the likeness, but not just the likeness, you need to fix the identity of the person.


Working on a small face in any artwork takes small, precise strokes. To do this I switch to the Verithins, by Prismacolor. These pencils are harder and can take much sharper points. What you want to do is avoid trying to “draw” the face, but again stroke in the small shapes that give you shapes of value that sculpt the shape.
beginning the shaping


One of the real problems that develop is with the eyes.
"growing" eyes
They tend to “grow”. The eyes are so important it is very easy to have them get larger than life as you work and rework them. While working I keep a small piece of soft putty adhesive stuck to the tray of my easel to left out any stroke that get too enthusiastic. This is the only time I really focus on my reference photo. I keep checking and rechecking the placement and size of the eyes, and other features of the face. This is fussy, delicate work. Speed is not the issue! Slow and steady wins in this case. Building and blending the values is what works. This persons rather almond shaped eyes need to be right!
yes, the eyes are too dark, but the shapes are developing

 Some softening and blending will de-emphasis the eyes, pushing them back into the face nicely. They are now her eyes, which is the goal.


Monday, May 4, 2015

Horse, Rider & Dog 2

blocked in.
The basic shapes are blocked in and the baseline colors are established. Drawing on this colourfix paper is like drawing on sandpaper. It eats the colored pencils. You can work effectively with lesser pencils at the base level. I even got out some old crayola colored pencils. I do not recommend these to students because they are so hard as to be frustrating, but the rough surface of this paper did take them with greater saturation than normal. So this was a good use of the harder, cheaper pencils. While this does has plenty of tooth, one of my major complaints for most papers, I am wondering if this paper has a little too much tooth!


The grayish background tones down the colors nicely and I think it will give an overall nice feeling to this drawing.


starting the second layer
Now that I established the basic level on this drawing I can start working on building up the layers and working in more and more details. It has been a challenge, as I am not as familiar with western tack as I am with English. There are many more do-dads! I will start adding more and more levels of value to all of the shapes, defining them more and more.





Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Drawing: Horse, Rider and Dog Day 1



Started a new project. It will be a little more complicated than my normal artwork. Usually I have a single subject which I work on in detail or a large overall landscape. This time while I have a subject, it is more complicated than a single object or collection of objects. It is a group portrait?


A horse, its rider and a dog. I love the composition. It has something I really love in art, humor.


The surface I am using is colourfix paper, from its cool pack, Fresh Grey. This is a pretinted, toothy paper designed for pastels, charcoals, etc. It is good for colored pencil as it is strong enough to allow the use of multiple layers. It allows for blending and burnishing without crushing the paper fibers.  I used a similar surface for my pelican drawing. This surface also takes most paints.


This time I am using the paper form, not the board form, in a smaller size. The finished work will be 8 x 10. Maybe a little small for the detail I plan.


I did the basic sketch on tracing paper and then used white graphite paper to transfer the drawing to the work surface. Then using erasable colored pencils I blocked in the basic design.


Often I will do the base layer in water soluble pencils and then “float” the colors in a wash to lay down the basic design, but decided this time to simply use the eraseables.



Monday, March 30, 2015

Pelican Encounter-Final

Well, after 10 days and many, many hours and many, many layers, it is done. I started this on March 11 and today is the first day of spring, March 21. But it takes as long as it takes. I am still not totally sure I am done.

Turned out pretty good, even Hubby, (surprise!) said so.

Now, the Verdict on the Colourfix.

I like it.

Pelican at Juno Beach
Susan Tschantz
c. 2015

It does have a lot of tooth, and you will find it eats the pencils. This is understandable, as it is designed for heavy use with charcoals and pastels. I suspect it leans heavily towards soft pastels.

I did enjoy finding a board that was already tinted and already had the marble dust(?) (I am not sure what they use for the tooth. I have used marble dust and gesso with acrylic paint to tint myself).

So in addition to the cost of the board, you will use your pencils rather quickly and will sharpen a lot! Really a lot!

I only have the final burnishing to do. I did use a stump to blend, which proved really useful. I did not find the use of a medium, like mineral spirits as useful on this board as on some surfaces. Wax bloom was not as evident either. and I might revisit the feet tomorrow when it has had time to set up a little.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Pelican Update

Spent an enjoyable half hour working on small details and blending the colored pencil on the Pelican painting.

It is starting to look like a pelican!

Unlike with liquid paint, when using colored pencils you must manually blend your pigments on the support. One reason a good strong support is necessary, and why standard drawing paper simply is not heavy enough for colored pencil.

Day three of the Pelican Project.
Working on the Colourfix is proving to be a mixed blessing. While the support is plenty strong enough for colored pencil, getting used to the strong tooth is a new experience. Not a bad one, just new.

Strangely, a tortillons work better than the harder stumps. Go figure? Maybe because the tortillon is softer than the stumps, better able to work on the sandy surface.

Getting that tint of salmon coloring over the white took some thought. Finally I did use a soft application of Terricota and Indian Red, both colors smear well when covered with a layer of the Prisma White. I find that the soft Prismacolor white blends and aids bleeding best. It is exactly what I needed in this instance.

I also used a rough, cheap bristle brush with a small amount of mineral spirits. After dipping the brush in mineral spirits, I wiped it off with a paper towel, so it was more of a dry brush effect.  This helped to simply tint the belly feathers, rather than color them with lines.

I am finished for the day, letting the painting dry completely before adding any more layers.

I have found that I need different techniques with this surface. The sandy tooth grabs the pigment more than I had been used to, so you do not need to work as hard to put down layers of pigment.

I also have not had any problems with wax bloom so far, which I do with the mat board I customarily use in my work. Doing the final polish on mat board takes time. We will see if it becomes a problem with this board. So far, not.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Pelican Encounter

Spent a relaxing 10 days snowed-in in Florida this winter. Another story.  

It was fabulous. While our home was pummeled with ice, rain, wind and snow we relaxed by a pool and took walks by the ocean.


Which leads to my new project, a striking portrait of Mr. Pelican. Actually, I have no idea of the sex. It might well be Ms. Pelican for all I know. I do know this bird-person took no guff from anyone. Stood its ground and proclaimed its independence.   

So Mr. or Ms. as the case may be, will become my next art project. 

My preference for tinted paper has lead me to explore many supports, and today I am trying a new one.  

Start of the drawing,
Image transferred and first layers of white and black
Colourfix Plein Air Painting Board made by Art Spectrum in Australia. I choose the blue haze tint, because it closely matches the sky in my reference photo. It is a heavily textured board, feeling like fine sandpaper. I have noticed already that it has a tendency to be smeary, which makes sense as it is designed for dry media like pastels and charcoal. Having the ability to smear and blend are important for these media. How it will respond to colored pencil is another matter.  

The support I am using is the 12” x 16” size. Matted to 16 x 20 it should make a good presentation.


As usual with Colored Pencil I did my first drawing on tracing paper, making what adjustments and corrections I needed, then using graphite waxless transfer paper, I transferred my Pelican to the Colorfix board. I traced lightly so I had very faint lines. This is necessary because I could already tell erasing was not an option on this board. 

You can see the tint of the board here and how it will serve as the background.

As I said, this board has the texture of fine sandpaper, and it does have plenty of tooth to hold many layers of colored pencil, which is good because it will need it! 

This time I did not start with a layer of watercolor pencil or graphtint, or ink tense. I usually to this, especially if I am working on a dark support. But I decided to see how colored pencil will perform on this surface.
So here it is so far:




Friday, March 13, 2015

Drawing Company Coming!

Need to clean the house, expecting company,


Have to pick up and dust and clean the floor, mean to bake cookies, so I am welcoming.


Ok, oven is on. Dishwasher going..


Dirty clothes picked up. Oh yes, the guest bath. Need to check it! So far so good.


I have so much to do! Dust everywhere, dishes in the sink…


I got the table out and set up…..


Oh, no! colored pencils,


Must resist…..

            Must resist……………

really I must resist! I have 6 people coming! Got too much to do!



Colored pencils won!