Monday, February 24, 2014

Colored Pencil, Blending, Burnishing and Polishing

Finishing up a colored pencil painting is more than simply putting down the pencils.

Tools needed to finish,
Sandpaper pad,
 erasing shield,
 burnishing pencil,
 blending pencil,
 pencil eraser,
 paper towels,

Using a paper blender

smoothing the color out

polished picture

Detail of flower

Monday, February 17, 2014

Magnolia Drawing, Working the Background

Finished background
While the background is not the focus of the drawing, it still requires strong attention.

We want the background to compliment and support the focus, not leave it hanging.

There are many ways to approach this.

You and simply have a mottled background, like the fuzzy blobs of color you get in a photograph, or you can put in enough details to suggest focus. What you do is up to you, but consider the response you want.

Many times I have heard artists and students say "its that way in the photo".


Are you the photographer?

Are you simply copying the photo or creating a work of art?

Because of the shallow depth of field in the photograph (we will not go into that here,) most likely there is no detail available for the background.

If you have taken the photos yourself, you might start taking more than one photo, one focused on the object, one on the foreground and one on the background. If you have not done this, it is still up to you to supply the background.

Hint: it does not have to match the photo!

With the second magnolia I decided to take a different approach to the background.

watering the background
With the first, I simply put in some shading to suggest leaves. Highlighted a few and left the rest to the viewer to supply. In fact, this happens. A couple  of good leaves and a few dark shadows and people "see" the background leaves.

This time I wanted to suggest the leaves, but also to trigger a more painterly feel to the colored pencil painting. To this end, I used watercolor pencils, simply putting in blocks of color and using water and a brush to create the background.

As you can see, there really isn't much to the background. A few leaves, a suggestion of shape and highlights. Contrast does the rest.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Teaching Drawing - In the Snow

It is hard to teach a drawing class this winter. The bad weather just keeps coming! I think in January I had one complete class!

The standing policy of the Renaissance Art Gallery is that when Cabel County school are close due to bad weather, there are no classes at the gallery. Usually that means the road are bad, and because I draw students from around the Tri-state area, it simply is not safe enough.

This past January, schools have been closed a lot! Some of my students have only been to 4 days of classes since the year began! This also effect the ability of my adult students, some of whom are grandmas, and have to babysit if school is called off.

It has been very frustrating for both me and my students. They have projects they want to get on with.

Last week school was called off not because of snow, but of extreme cold. I needed to be in the gallery anyway to help prepare for a lobby show of gallery work in the Renaissance Center. We did a pre-show walk through for the opening of the play, "12 Angry Men" being given the first two weekends in February. So I let my students decide for themselves if they wanted to come in.

The Lobby show turned out rather well, and we are all geared up for the year.

Well this week, we were able to have classes. But it rained, snowed and the temperatures were all over the place! Those that made it in did enjoy themselves and really felt it was worth the trip!

February should be a better month, but none of us are counting on it. Last two months we have worked a lot in colored pencil and with the color wheel. In the coming months we will revert to working with graphite. In all its forms! And experimenting with different surface and treatments.

Back to basics!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Magnolia in Colored Pencil-On to the First Layer

Layer l
With the back ground blocked in , and the underpainting of the magnolia blossom dry, I will start on developing the whites. 

Filling in the back petals and the first layer of gray
White is the most reflective color and is never found in nature as pure white. It always, always, always reflects some of the colors surrounding it. These large blossoms are no exceptions. But for the first layer, a base of pure white Prisma Color is placed on the focus or most forward and prominent petals. 

These petals in life are large, glossy and slightly a creamy yellow. But only slightly. The brilliance of the white flowers is what makes these trees so beautiful. That and the fact that these flowers are the size of dinner plates! 

Finding the flow of the drawing
So a layer of white, even on the parts that will be shaded later gives a good base. 
At this point, you might be tempted to rush things, use long strokes to cover as much area as you can. Fight this!  Color pencil is not a fast medium. Yes it is try, but it takes time and skill to have it come out. Long linear strokes at this point will only cause trouble latter. They will create ridges you will have to fight to reduce and eliminate.
Use small circular or oval strokes to cover the area carefully. You want a smooth surface that will accept subsequent layers. Use light pressure. It is better to put two layers down instead of one thick layer that dents the surface and crushes the tooth of the support. 

The back or in this painting, supporting petals will be covered in 10% cool gray, also by Prisma Color.  With any white work, you really need a full range of grays, both warm and cool.

As the petals develop and open from the bud, the base is creamy yellow, even on the fully developed flowers. And as they age, and begin to fail, this yellow becomes more evident. I am using Cream, and French Gray, warm, 50%.
Close up of the developing flower,