I have really enjoyed working with colored pencil but I'd really like to learn how to use them better. I know there are several ways to blend the colors aside from just layering. I really like layering but I just haven't been using the right surfaces (paper) and I often end up with clumps of wax and pigment. I've been reading a couple of books on colored pencil techniques and apparently that happens when there isn't enough tooth left on the paper and the wax/pigment just slide around on each other. So, I need to be using toothier paper in general. Another way to blend is to use solvents. I have a few large sets of colored pencils (150 Prismacolors and 120 Spectrum Noir Blendable Pencils and 90 Irojiten Pencils). I love, love, love the Irojitens. They are sublimely blendable without solvents. They are creamy but don't crumble. I've also not had too much trouble with clumping. I didn't include them in today's experimenting/playing because I already know how I like to use them. The Prismas (P) and Spectrum Noirs (SN) preform differently from the Irojitens and from each other, too. Both are creamy but hard enough to maintain a point. Both though give off crumbs and become clumpy. They just don't blend together the same way as the Irojitens. So, today I decided to play around with both sets and several blending techniques to see how they preform. Admittedly, I didn't take a ton of care with the application of color to the paper. I didn't necessarily cover the tooth or blend the edges of the different shades together as carefully as I might in other situations. I just wanted to see how the solvents dissolve the pencil and how it moves around the paper.
Here's a summary of my play:
Large blue petals SN Pencils (left) P Pencils (Right) & Tombow Blending marker - The paper got fairly "wet" and it seemed like the colors were dissolving and blending well but once dry they don't look like they blended together at all.
Large Pink petals SN Pencils (Left) P Pencils (Right) & Mineral Spirits - I had to dip the cotton swab with pretty much every swipe as the paper just soaked it up but overall there was pretty good dissolving of the pencil and the edges between the colors did obscure pretty well. I wonder if using a brush or maybe a cloth rather than a swab would help with breaking down the pencil.
Large Aqua petals SN Pencils (left) P Pencils (Right) & National Colored Pencil Blender Pen - I'm not sure what the solvent in this exactly is. It smells a little like alcohol but not really very strong so I think it's more than just alcohol. I feel like this worked better with the SN pencils than the P ones. The paper got pretty wet but it dried quickly and it seemed to work pretty well.
Large Purple petals SN Pencils (left) P Pencils (Right) & Rubbing Alcohol - The paper got very wet and the color changed dramatically while it was wet. The color returned to "normal" once it was dry but there seems to be a film or something over the SN petal and the color was inconsistently removed on the P pencils. I definitely won't be using straight rubbing alcohol again.
Small Blue petals SN Pencils (left) P Pencils (right) & Blender pencil - If I understand correctly the blender pencil adds colorless wax to the top of what's already been laid down to blend them together. I've used this pencil with success in other work, in smaller spaces but I had less success this time on both pencils. There is decent obscuring of the edges between the shades but I did get clumping with both sets.
Small Pink petals SN Pencils (left) P Pencils (right) & white underlayer & Burnished with white. The color application on top of the white base layer was pretty smooth and it was a bit easier to blend the edges between the shades with the initial application but the burnishing with white let to clumping.
Small Aqua petals SN Pencils (left) P Pencils (right) & Burnisher Pencil. Supposedly the burnisher pencil is supposed to help melt the underlayers of wax and mix the colors together. I've burnished with success in the past but this just didn't work well. Color coverage is inconsistent and very little blending of edges actually happened.
Small Purple petals SN Pencils (left) P Pencils (right) & burnished with white P pencil. This technique can work well but the color is dramatically altered. This is better blending of the colors but what started out as dark purples are now much, much lighter. I'm thinking a little white goes a long way.
So, there you have it...a summary of my experience with colored pencil blending. This was not a resounding success but I really was just playing around. Unfortunately, I didn't really get the kind of information I was hoping for in terms of how best to use these pencils, especially the SN ones. One thing I really need to give more thought to before I start a colored pencil project, though, is my choice of surface/paper. I've been able to use smooth paper with the Irojiten pencils, I think because they just blend so well, but I need to select toothier paper to use with the other brands.
Holy crap it's awesome to sell my art! I decided that my koi drawing was done without adding anything more. I really like how it turned out. Well, so did lots of my friends on Facebook, one of whom decided she had to have it. It's so exciting to move people with my work. What's interesting about this piece is that it came so easily. I've been wanting to do something with koi fish (I have other works in mind) and it just seemed to make sense to use the patterns of the ink stained paper to form the koi's skin. I drew the fish and painted around it. Just these two actions drew rave reviews. So much so that it just seemed too easy...like I hadn't actually done anything to this piece but other pieces that I spend hours upon hours working on draw crickets. It feels like I just simply don't know what people will like. I can't remember if I've talked about it previously here but I know I've discussed this with my husband...that the pieces I seem to like the least, other people like the best and the ones I'm particularly proud of seem to draw little to no reaction. I think I'm going to start taking note of what reactions come to see if there's a pattern...maybe there's not but I still wonder.
A couple weeks ago, I discovered a blog by another artist doing a daily creative project. Crystal Moody is doing a year-long project and started it in January so she's much farther in. You can find her blog here. I've spent the last couple of days reading most of her posts and I feel like she is a kindred spirit. So many of the things she's written about, I too have either written about, thought about or discussed with others. Her fears, resistance, discoveries, etc resonate with me so completely. Please check her blog out. Her work, both written and visual, inspires me!
Now for today's work. I've decided to keep up with the drawings on the ink stained paper. I've opted to let the ones I made yesterday dry a little longer so I used the last piece of one of the very busy inky/painted pages that I cut up last week. The other drawings have had more representational elements (flowers and the fish). This one was calling for something more abstract. As I looked at the page, I could see areas of the ink drawing that were prominent and wanted to stand out. Then I thought about scribbly ovals to isolate them and then obscure the rest of the background with the white acrylic ink. I like the simplicity of this composition juxtaposed with the complexity of the underlying patterns. I think I'm going to keep working with this style. These last 4 pieces have been smaller, 5.5" x 7" but I think I'm ready to go bigger. I can't wait to see what comes next! Oh yeah, and I've completed 12 weeks of this daily art project! So crazy!
I got some great suggestions over on my Facebook page for my next 30 ways to draw something piece but I just wasn't feeling it today. I do some tutoring on the side to bring in some additional income and this summer I've been working with a high school student to prepare for first-year Spanish in the fall semester. I spent hours last night and this morning before our appointment trying to find some exercises to help him learn the vocabulary better. This ate up a ton of art time but it was time well spent as he loved what I found and was much more engaged than pretty much any other time this summer!
So, my contribution to my daily art project for today is three colored pencil flowers. This past weekend, I drew some simple flower designs on a sheet of Bristol paper. I didn't really know what I would do with them but they came in handy today. I cut them out from the larger sheet and decided to color three of them. I opted not to outline them with ink so that the edges would stay soft. I used Prismacolor colored pencils and using three shades of each color, a blender pencil and a white pencil I colored and shaded each flower and leaf.. I find with these pencils that the wax builds up quickly and I have to be careful to not build up too many layers. I suspect the surface of the paper is also too smooth for too many layers of the pencils. I really, really love Tobow's Irojiten colored pencils as they layer and blend so nicely and smoothly but they are also pretty pricy so I admit I'm a little precious with them. Maybe I can get a second set of them and then just go to town! The Prismacolors are really lovely, too, though and come in a huge 150 pencil set! I never thought I'd like colored pencils but I totally do!
I had so much fun yesterday seeing all the ways I could draw a tree that I decided to do it again today...but with breakfast! What's funny though is that I don't really care for breakfast. I created the 30 square grid like yesterday and got about 18 in before the ideas trickled out. I had to wrack my brain to come up with a few more before I gave in and looked online for some reference images. What sucked about that though was that I didn't really find stuff that I hadn't already drawn, except for the last one...an avocado with an egg baked in the center. I couldn't really get a good photo...I think there was too much the camera was trying to focus on. I'll try to scan it soon and see if that helps.
Like I said, I really enjoyed yesterday's exercise and I enjoyed today's, as well. This one definitely took me much longer to do for a few reasons. One, I simply had trouble thinking of new ideas. I think since I was trying to make them a little recognizable (but not realistic) that it was harder to just be free and play. Two, after I finally got them all sketched in with pencil, I opted to ink them, which I didn't do yesterday. Three, I opted to use colored pencil to add in some interest. Since they were drawn simply, I wanted to color them simply, as well. So, I didn't really focus on shadows/shading, etc, just added the color. I had so much fun doing this. I really like this cartoony look! I'm thinking tomorrow will be another 30 ways to draw something day...what should my subject be?
One of my favorite artists, Tara Leaver, issued a challenge on her blog today to eschew the formulas and blueprints set out by others, to stop procrastinating with the internet and such and find our own solutions to our "problems" and in doing so we are likely to find a multitude of solutions. She challenged herself to draw as many trees as she could on a page in her sketchbook. Drawing a grid with 36 spaces, using no reference images, and working quickly, she drew 36 trees and at the end found that she could have drawn more.
I could swear every blog post she writes is written solely for me. I've taken many classes, online and in person (in a variety of media), over the years from artists who aim to show you their process and produce pictures that look like theirs. It's so tempting when you love and admire the work of an artist to take their class so you can make pictures that look like theirs. I'm guilty of this to a degree. I took Flora Bowley's Bloom True e-course last year because I adore her work. I love that she shares her process (in the course that you pay for of course) and I did my best to follow along, but before I even finished my first piece I realized that I couldn't follow her process to a T and find my own voice, too. Part of me would love to paint like her but that's not my style. I saw many lovely paintings come from my classmates but most of them look like Flora's, not like theirs. I want/need to discover my own artistic voice and there are parts of Flora's process I will continue to use (like painting with my fingers!) but I can't allow myself to paint like anyone other than me.
So, Tara's post today about resisting those blueprints and formulas spoke to me and I took her tree challenge. My sketchbook page only had room for 30 trees. I too, worked quickly and used only my imagination, no reference images. I struggled a little with the final 3 but the first ones came pretty easily. It was fun to see the variety and once I was done and looked at Tara's picture I saw that there were ideas I hadn't even thought of. This was fun to do and I'm thinking of other things to do with this challenge. How amazing would it be to fill page after page with images and ideas that could inform even more pieces of art?
Ok, not really but I can't help but think about "Finding Nemo" and that line when I use inks. I loved yesterday's inky drawing/painting so much I decided I had to give it another go today. I'll admit that I don't have a ton of inks on hand so there's not much variation in my color choices, but then again, I love these colors so who cares if I don't have many. I did do a little color mixing but I think those colors ended up in the first layer so you can't really see them anymore :(. Anyway, despite my inner critic chiming in and making me question my choices in these, I am liking this process of play and experimentation. I am also liking the results. This one, though, isn't done yet. There are a few places that are just a little too dark that I want to brighten up to create a bit more contrast. Stay tuned for the final piece tomorrow!
I also got a fun delivery today. My mom sent me some money to buy some art supplies and I decided to get more colored pencils...since I'm loving this medium right now. So, here are all 5 sets of Spectrum Noir's Blendable Colored Pencils. I've rearranged them by number rather than how they come in the set. I think I'll do a review of them in the near future after I've played with them a bit. I'm going to work on a color chart tonight to be able to see how they look on paper. I'll actually have two color charts for these. One chart will have each pencil in order 1-120 but the other chart will organize the colors as they came in each tin. I'll post pics of those when done, probably tomorrow.
See you tomorrow!
It's amazing to me how quickly time passes. It was 2 months ago to the day that we lost our beloved Kagero. The sharpness of the loss has eased a little but there is definitely a constant undercurrent of sadness. I know that feeling will eventually lift but it's just so heavy right now. But I am so very grateful for my art. It's not only given me a distraction from the grief but also an outlet. I've been spurred to learn more, grow more, experiment more and I think the results are pretty cool.
Today's contribution was actually completed pretty early today, which I'm happy about. I really want to do some reading and it's sometimes frustrating to feel like I have to choose between art and reading. So, I shall read tonight! I've mentioned before that having an abundance of ideas can be overwhelming and sometimes even paralyzing. Today was one of those days. I have at least 2 projects in progress but I just wasn't feeling like working on those. I considered starting several new projects but just couldn't get behind any of them today. I'm still waiting for access to my free Craftsy class so I couldn't start that either. So, I decided I just needed to play but play can be so hard to do. It can be so hard to let go of outcomes/expectations/judgements. I do think I had moments in this process where I was able to let go and just see what happened but it was definitely challenging. But I do like how it came out. It looks playful to me. I like the color choices and the sense of movement. I'll keep looking at it and see if I still like it. I was thinking during the process that if I didn't end up caring for the end result, I could always use it as a background for a collage or cut it into pieces and use them separately or even together. In fact, as I'm typing this I thinking about how interesting it could be to cut it up and reassemble it in a different configuration. Hmmmmmm.....
I decided today was a good day to take a break from my current cityscape. It's hard on the eyes to look at all those tiny lines and squares! I ended up doing a couple of things for today's contribution to my daily art project. The first thing was the tangle in one of my (many) sketchbooks. This pattern/tangelation is from Zentangle and is called Tripoli. I'm not sure why I've never worked with it before because it's been around for a few years now but I just never had. I had lunch with a new Certified Zentangle Teacher (CZT) who lives in the area last week and we were talking about tangles we like and I mentioned this one. She showed me the trick to making it work and then showed me that it can use wavy/scribbley lines, too. So, thanks, Heidi, I love it now! I think this design calls for color so maybe that'll be something to work on tomorrow :).
The second thing I did today is the color wheel. I hate to admit this but I think this is really the first color wheel I've ever made.. As much doubt as I encounter in my art making, my ego is a bit overblown when it comes to completing basic and foundational tasks like color mixing on a color wheel. Essentially, I usually feel "better" than this basic task and eschew it altogether. Ridiculous! I really wanted to play with my new inktense pencils and I wanted to see how well they blend together so it made sense to do a color wheel. I love how they work with water and how vibrant and vivid the colors are. I did have a little problem with the blending in some of the hues but I think part of the problem was the texture on the page and that despite this being mixed media paper that can tolerate water, there was too much water and it started to break down a bit and made some of the color streaky. But still, this was a great experiment and I really love a couple of the colors I came up with. This was true color mixing as I used only the primary colors to create the secondary and tertiary colors. I think I'm going to play more with these to see what other color combinations I can come up with using just these three colors. It really is so much fun to approach art making, even when it's just basic techniques, with an attitude of play and experimentation. It's these moments when I wish I could just keep making art in every minute of every day...but, my bed beckons so sweet dreams!
Six whole weeks of my daily art project done. If there weren't pictures to prove it, I'd be inclined to deny that it's even happened! I'm so proud of myself for sticking with this. I didn't have a plan when I started this project, no end date in mind. As I've made it through each day, I've realized that I'm gaining so much from this project that it just doesn't make sense to stop yet. It's giving me reason to learn new techniques, try new things, push myself beyond my known limits and blogging about it has given me space to reflect on each project, to think about my creative process and to critique my own art to figure out what I like and what I don't like.. I'm not the most public of people so it's been a little bit of a hurdle to share my feelings about so many things in this public way but I feel like I'm growing through this project in multiple ways.
Today's drawing is another work in progress but I expect to be done with it tomorrow and will post the final as tomorrow's project. I discovered some videos about perspective drawing and just loved the one that demonstrated this perspective. It's often referred to as "worm's eye view" as opposed to "bird's eye view". I've decided to call this "Kagero's Eye View" instead. When I finished drawing in my buildings (it's not any city in particular, just imagined by me), I imagined Kagero walking among these buildings, looking up and seeking this view of the buildings and the sky. It made me smile, which was amazing since Wednesday's have been rough for me. I definitely prefer smiling when I think about her rather than bursting into tears. So, here's today's installment, "Kagero's Eye View". Below this is my week 6 compilation (I'm still working on those flowers...).
So, today's entry is the second exercise in my online colored pencil class. It starts with this grid, which contains 144 small squares. Then we use 6 colored pencils (2 blues, 2 reds, 2 yellows), plus white and a blending pencil in any number of combinations to fill these 144 squares. This exercise isn't about color theory but rather about experimentation and play, employing curiosity when combining colors for each square. At first, I thought, ok, no biggie, this'll be interesting and probably quick. When the teacher said that this exercise could take up to 6 hours to complete, I scoffed. How could this possibly take that long? Well, I'd say this took at least that long. Now, I didn't work on it without breaks but it's definitely more time consuming than I first thought. My title for this post...this did get a little tedious and I had to employ much patience and even perseverance to make it to the end. Since I have a tendency to quit things I'm not enjoying, I committed to finishing this. The teacher said it's totally possible to have 144 unique combinations of colors from these 8 pencils but to not worry about devising a "system" of color combinations, just to let the ideas flow, to experiment and play. I thought, ok...let's see what happens. Maybe she's right...maybe it is possible to have 144 unique colors but since I didn't bother devising a "system" I quickly forgot what combinations I'd already tried so I'm certain I have repeating colors. Oh well...I do find it interesting to look at but I'm so glad it's done!