Monday, December 30, 2013

Drawing progress - Magnolia

Colored pencil drawings takes time.

Lots of time.

Progress from previous shot after 3-4 hours.

I have kept working

and working,

slow but I am making progress.

I did not have as much time as usual to work on Wednesday. Although I came into the gallery early, there were visitors and business to take care of.

This week has been much busier than expected. The weekend storms snapped off our remaining tree in the back yard.

So as of the start of today, the flower itself was taking shape, but it just laid there on the surface.

As of the end of today, I think it is coming together finally.

I think the back ground leaves look a bit too small, so will work to enlarge them tomorrow.

But it is starting to look like those large, glossy flowers!.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Portrait in Colored Pencil

"Does It Look Like Me?"


One of the artists that attend my Wednesday Studio has completed a portrait as a gift for her grand son.

Portrait of Tank, Framed

Colored Pencil portrait of “Tank”, her grand-puppy.


When she came in she was overall pleased with the likeness. This is definitely Tank, not a generic bull dog. But there were still some problems. Overall there was more of the texture of the heavy paper showing than she would have liked.


“When I bought the pad, (it is #140 lb paper) it said ‘Gray Scale’ on it. I thought they were talking about the color, now I think it is the texture of the paper, scaly!” was Mary Anne’s take on it.


The pad does scale through all the shades of gray. And I am sure this is what they meant by gray scale pad, but the texture of the paper is very definite and it can overpower the art done on it. And it looks like scales. With colored pencil this can be a problem. Finding a support that has enough tooth to hold the colored pencil but does not have an overwhelming texture.


Also, she was not at all happy with the forepaw. It looked like a blob, she said. The fine details were giving her trouble. There were also details in the face that needed attention.


It took some time to stop    and    think.


When you run into problems in art, the instinct is to push ahead. Drowned it in details, in fancy brush work, lines or gobs of color. Wrong approach.








Art happens in the head first, and here is where the solution will reside.


With Tanks paw, we had to come back and think of just what we were drawing. The leg is a column, the foot (paw) is basically a rectangle attached to the column (leg) by a fat little ankle. So these shapes must be accurate first, then shaded to give shape to the volume. The shapes of the shading is important too. It needs to make sense with the light source, and there is always a light source, or how could we see it!


Once these issues were address, Tanks leg and paw emerged from the page.


Background is still there.


Mary Anne elected to have a simple, color block background. Fine, it suits the portrait well, but it still needed to be addressed with the same care as the rest of the portrait. Background is not an afterthought, but an important part of the composition.


Sometimes we as artists can be a bit lazy about this, or even cheap. We don’t want to spend our time and effort on what may seem an unimportant part of the art. But a good background is what makes the subject pop.


This is Tank,
And he is looking fine!
So time was spend to develop this background, first layers of crimson lake then blue indigo. Not just one layer each but multiple layers red/blue then red/blue. There is even a layer of black in there.


The result? A strong background that makes tank jump out and give the appearance of an oil portrait.


Other than the canines, bull dogs have rather small, delicate teeth. These where hard to get with regular pencils. Here is where Very Thins, by Prisma color came in. These harder pencils are not something you would want to use every day, but are just the thing for fine detail. Which is what they are designed for.


Tank- reference photo
Addressing the eyes, Mary Ann’s reference photo did not give the eyes a good go. Dog pictures seldom do, but this is a dog she knows and loves, and here memory came to her rescue. Instead of solid black, which in a photo a dog’s eyes can appear, she worked layers of black/brown and white to give his eyes life.


All in all this is a drawing of Tank, not just any bull dog.



Monday, December 16, 2013

More Magnolias

Spending some time working on my Magnolia project.

The small drawing, 5x7 on pastel board is becoming saturated. It will take a little burnishing to get the details to work on it.

Work is coming along, but photographing that work is giving me trouble. It is overcast and cloudy, so getting a good shot is difficult, even in the sunroom! I have tried it with a flash, but you know how it drains artwork.

I really try to use as close to natural light as I can so people seeing the artwork can get a feel for what the piece really looks like. But on a cloudy day that is not really going to happen. If the piece was finished, I would wait, but I am going to keep working on it, and wanted to get it at this stage of work. Hopefully you get the feel for what is happening with both drawings.

Drawing as of 12-8-13
The large piece, 16 x 20 is taking a lot of pencil! Good thing I ordered a half dozen white pencils from Dick Blicks! I really did not want to use watercolor as an underpainting on this one, but wanted the green of the mat board to remain pure. Isn't happening! but I keep cleaning up the background.

Getting all the shades of grey and yellow on this one is going to be a real challenge. Drawing white flowers is much more complicated than the casual observer would imagine.

I am also finding the detail of what will be the seed cone a challenge. It is so pale and there is so much detail. Most people look at the large petals and overlook the nectar rich cone of the flower. As the individual areas mature and "bloom" the cone seems to unpeel. Each of those green things is a nectar tube which will get fertilized and produce a bright red seed in the fall.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Color Wheel-Beads

Justin, my 10 year old drawing student, finished his color wheel this week.

His wreath is homemade, from vines from his yard. I think this is fine. It is not necessary to always throw a lot of money on an art project for it to be well done and creative.

He had to collect beads in colors that would complete the color wheel, string them and then wrap them around the wreath. A lot of them his family already had from other projects. He simply needed to collection and sort them. This took a while. He laid them out on a printed color wheel to see which actually worked on the color wheel. This took a while. Rather than help him, I let him work it out, learning to judge color himself. I only stepped in when he asked my opinion.

 He strung them on colored pipe cleaners, which he also matched to the color wheel. They are of course, wire so would wrap and he would not need more wire or glue.

I think he did a great job with this.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Magnolia in colored pencil progress

I made a little progress on the small 5 x 7 colored pencil drawing of a magnolia today.

The Pastelbord has good tooth and can take a lot of layers of colored pencil. I have gone through almost a complete white pencil!

So now I can start fine tuning it and hopefully it will turn into something.

Also got some large boards to do a "grown up" version.

..............................and lots of white pencils!