I decided that after my marathon art making session yesterday, somewhere around 7 hours, I'm taking it easy today. I have several projects in progress and I really didn't feel like starting something new, so I decided to make some more progress on one of them. This flower coloring business has gone on and on and on...I didn't really grasp what I was getting myself into by deciding to color these but it's already sold so I gotta keep working away! It doesn't seem like I'm making any progress but I now have the bottom right corner done! Planning to start something new tomorrow!
I got started on this around 10:30 this morning. I set up my warming board contraption and got to work. Suddenly, it was time to make lunch, then back to work, then it was 6:30. My hand did start hurting toward the end as I was filling in the black but I opted to forge ahead and finish it. I have far too many works in progress and I didn't want this to be among those! I like it. I can see where the black portions are uneven, thicker in some places, thinner in others but it looks much more like stained glass than I thought it would.
I decided to go back to my colored pencil stained glass drawing today. Since the pressure required for the blending makes my hand hurt and the Icarus Board (warming board) that I posted about wanting earlier in the week can't be added into our budget quite yet, I had to get inventive. So, I put a heating pad underneath a drawing board to heat the paper which warms the wax in the colored pencils allowing for better coverage with less pressure, which means fewer layers are needed and less wear and tear on my hand (this was quite the run-on sentence!). I don't think the board conducts the heat as well as the Icarus Board does so there's still some pain in my hand but I expect to be able to do more on this tomorrow. So, I'm counting my contraption as a success...at least until I happen upon $350. I'm posting a picture of the drawing from where I left off the other day so you can see how far I made it today. I do think the pieces are looking like mottled glass and I can't wait to see how this turns out!
13 weeks in the bag and it keeps on going! I made the blue ink-stained paper a couple of weeks ago but wasn't sure what I wanted to do with it, so I figured it best to wait for inspiration to strike. I really loved the koi I did last week and feel drawn (no pun intended) to do more of them. I think the inky paper looks kind of like water so it makes sense to use it for the koi. In the other ink paintings I've done, I've let the colors form the objects by obscuring the rest of the background but I want to preserve the background in this one so I'll be painting the koi with more opaque paint, covering the blue where the fish will be. I'm thinking I want to use white, cream, yellows, reds and oranges on the fish to create a nice contrast between the background and the fish. I sketched out some compositions to get an idea of how to set up the painting. I'm leaning toward the composition with two fish, which will be different colors to set them apart from one another since they are so close in proximity to each other. We'll see :)
90 days! Wow...I'm really impressed with myself. I am so good at giving up on/quitting things, especially when it feels hard but I haven't quit this project, and it hasn't always been in a walk in the park. I really have no idea when this project will end but it's helping me be more focused on art making and learning that I just can't let it go yet. In fact, I could stand to be even more focused than I have been. I'm going to think about if I need to be a bit more structured with my project.
Today's contribution is my completed "The Great Escape." I added in the gold wire details on the birdcage and a few details on the bird. I wanted to keep them simple so that the vivid colors aren't covered. I free-handed the lines on the cage so they are pretty wonky. Part of me wishes I'd spent more time and gotten more precise with them but another part of me really likes the wonkiness...the cage is quirky and I like quirky. I like how this came out. I especially like my bird. I'll have to draw that again. Like I said yesterday, I like this imagery and will likely use it again!
I mentioned yesterday that my hand was feeling pretty sore after working on the colored pencil stained glass piece. When I woke up this morning, my poor hand was very painful and I wasn't confident I'd be able to do anything today. But, I took some pain reliever and the pain abated. But I figured it best to lay off the colored pencils today. So, after considering my options, I decided to work on another silhouette piece. I've had this idea of a bird escaping its cage for a while, just not sure how to use it. I'll probably use this imagery in other work as it resonates with me. I really am enjoying the process of this style and seeing the background colors/patterns emerge as the objects while the white obscures the rest. For this one, I'll add at least one more coat of white, probably two. I started the white layers with pearlescent acrylic ink but it was just too shiny. For the last white layer, I think I'll mix the pearlescent and regular white together to tone down the shinyness but still add a little sparkle. I'll be using yellow pearlescent ink for the cage and blue pearlescent ink for the bird. I'm excited to see how this one comes out!
I really have been enjoying colored pencil as a medium and I'm enjoying learning how to use it. What I'm not enjoying, however, is the pain that comes with using the pressure necessary to blend the layers of color together. I'm frustrated that it seems like I get so little work done on my colored pencil pieces before my hand wants to give out. I can only think though that the best thing to do is to pace myself, not do too much at once and work on other pieces of art that don't demand so much of my hand.
When I saw this project in the book, I guess I thought there'd be more instruction as to how to color each sections beyond the sequence of colors to use. The instructions include that info for the green leaf sections and I guess I thought the coloring would be more straight forward. There is a reference photo in the book that helps but I'm kind of just winging it. I do think, though, that I'm doing ok so far. The pieces have that mottled, stained glass appearance so I'm excited to see how this evolves, even if I have to work on it just a little at a time.
Ok, it doesn't look like I did much today but I actually spent several hours working on this. I signed up for Kindle Unlimited last week and have since found that they have a TON of art instruction books available. I have like 104 on a wishlist already and I keep finding more. Of course, this begs the question about how much time I've wasted looking for said books rather than working on my art...procrastination much? Anyway, I found "The Ultimate Colored Pencil Guide" and read through it last night. There are a couple of projects I'm interested in completing in this book so I decided to get one underway.
What you see above is the start of one that is a section of a stained glass window. This exercise teaches blending and burnishing techniques and I'm excited to work on it. There are a lot of pencils used in this one so it took me a while to get all of them sorted out. Then I set out to copy the design to my paper. I'm sure I could have free handed it but I really wanted the proportions to be as accurate as possible, especially since I was increasing the size of the design from a 7"x5.5" piece of paper to 14"x11". So, I opted to use the grid technique for transferring. One thing I had to be really aware of was to not press hard on the graphite pencil when making the grid lines and when drawing in the glass sections. I have a tendency to be really heavy handed so this was a little challenging. The issue with this is that when the pencil is pressed too hard, it forms an impression in the paper and the colored pencil won't cover that impression easily. Now, this can be a useful technique to create texture or add interest to a colored pencil drawing but I'm not going for any of that in this one. Unfortunately, I won't really know if I was successful in avoiding the impression until I start applying the color, so wish me luck :)
The second picture shows the drawing in the next stage...ready for coloring. As per the book, I used a color from each section to draw a line adjacent to the graphite line so that the space would be depicted but I could erase the graphite lines. Now with the grid lines and other graphite lines erased, I'm ready to color...tomorrow...
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.
I have this "problem" and I've talked about it before. Now, I guess it's really a good "problem" to have but it perplexes me still. It seems like at some point every week, I get to a point where I have just too many ideas and I can't decide where to start. I guess the problem doesn't really lie in the abundance of ideas part of the equation but rather in the inability to decide. I haven't figured out why I get so stuck in this situation. I was stuck for YEARS with no ideas at all and now I have so many I still end up paralyzed. I'm thinking there has to be fear in there somewhere..."what if I pick the wrong idea?", "what if I mess it up this time and then never come back to it?", "what if I end up wasting materials?"...I'm certain there are many others. Why are these "what if" questions always skewed negatively? I would much rather think "what if it's amazing?!", "what if I sell it for a ton of money?!", "what if I love it and decide to make more?!". That feels so much better...I think I really need to be aware when those negative questions are coming and shift them!
I hit that paralyzed state again this morning as I tried to come up with what to work on today. I settled on playing around with my PanPastels. I've had these for more than a year now but hadn't even opened them. I've worked with pastels before, both hard and soft, and I like them but these are different...even have special tools for application. I've looked around online a bit for some techniques/tips but didn't really find anything compelling to do so I just figured I start with a flower. The application is kind of wonky and I don't really like how big the applicators are. I guess my paper was also just a little rough because one side of one of the sponges tore a little. I know these are made especially for use with the PanPastels but I'm not a fan of them so far although I do love how rich and vibrant the colors themselves come out. I think I need to keep playing to see how to build up layers, get nice shading, etc. I only have the six pans shown in the picture but I think I'll be adding them to my wishlist!