Monday, May 11, 2020

Reflected Dots - Colored Pencil

At my studio and wondering what to draw next. I really had fun with the tea cups and polka dots that I finished recently and posted here on my blog so decided to try another. I put a few reflective and shiny objects together for a small still life and positioned everything to reflect the dots over and over. I thought the green leaves and organic shapes were a good contrast to the other objects.

I am working on UArt 800 grit paper and my own reference photo (see bottom) as well as working from the objects themselves. I started by layering Faber Castell Polychromos colored pencils and blending them into the surface with a bristle brush. The Polychromos are an oil based pencil so less waxy and blend better as the surface layer. As I continue to add color, I will use Prismacolor Premier Soft Core colored pencils and Caran d'Ache Luminance pencils along with the Polychromos. Both Prismacolor and Luminance are waxy and build strong color as they are layered.

This sanded paper is so textured that it smudges easily, so I have to clean often with a kneaded eraser. I keep a piece of blank scrap paper under my drawing hand to keep my from smudging colors while I draw.

To work on the surface I put down a layer of Black Caran d'Ache Supracolor Soft  watercolor pencil and then blended it with water for a smooth surface with no paper texture showing through. 

I did the same for the background using Grey Supracolor Soft watercolor pencil and blending it with water. The Grey took a little more work to even out than the Black. 

Here is my finished drawing, I used several blue, gray and violet pencils to complete my background. I also added a few dark gray colored pencils to the black surface in order to lighten it up. I also added the whites to the dots. The piece is almost complete so I can punch up some of the colors, add light and dark values/tones to different areas. I also used Prismacolor Verithin pencils on top of a few of the areas where I wanted rich darks and no paper texture showing through. These are the darkest areas on the coffee pot, the black cup in the front and the two red vases.

This is my reference photo, I chose to eliminate the blue reflections in the coffee pot. I found them to be a bit distracting to the rest of the composition.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Book Sculptures: Fold • Cut • Glue

Here are a few old books that I have been creating into book sculptures. The first is a book about fresh and salt water fishes. I cut out many of the fish illustrations before I folded pages. 

The fold pattern for this book is to alternate: 1.) page folded in half vertically with 2.) page in which corners are folded inward from the edge to form a triangle. Keep folding these two patterns until the whole book has been folded. Below is my sample book to demonstrate.

I glued decorative paper to the end pages of the book, then positioned and glued on my fish. For glue, I used a glue stick for fish on the end pages, white craft glue and a glue gun for other areas. I also added some fishing line, lures and bobbers for embellishments. 

I had been thinking about a circus tent of a a book and finally found this fun circus book in which to create it. I liked the end pages so I didn't have to cover them with paper. I cut out many of the illustrations to use and glue back on. The pattern for folding is to fold down the tops of each page to form a triangle creating the point. To make the entrance, I folded some of the middle pages inward. I created red flags out of paper and added a gold ribbon to hang the flags. I really like the way this one came out!

I had found an aquarium book with colorful fish and corals so I wanted to make a book that appeared to be an aquarium. First I glued all of the ends of the pages with gel medium and when the glue was dry and the pages glued into a "block" I could hollow out the insides with a utility knife. This is not easy and takes a while to do. Your hands will tire quickly! Next I glued turquoise Lokta paper to the backgrounds and started adding in fish. 

 Here I have added black handmade paper with gold flecks running through it (I'm not sure of the name) and glued more fish on top of the black paper and coming out of the cut pages inside.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Spring to Life

I created this book sculpture using one of my dad's old engineering books from college in the late 1940s or early 1950s. I had saved several of old books that belonged to my parents that didn't seem to be classics and have given them another life by creating book sculptures out of them.

I cut a template for my flower vase/base and then cut sections of book pages with a utility knife (see below, template on the right). This can be a tedious procedure and take a while, I needed to use about 3 paperbacks for this vase, I could not use the pages from the engineering book because they were too thin. I tore them out and saved for another project.

I used marbelized paper I had previously created for the end pages and put together paper flowers cut and folded from other book pages, some previously colored with watercolor paint. I construct a variety of different flowers and some curly leaf shapes to compliment them.

Friday, April 3, 2020

A Drawing of Colorful Artichokes

This is my most current colored pencil drawing and it is a drawing of various artichokes. I have been interested in the various, shapes, sizes and colors of various artichokes and decided to create a long vertical drawing of a variety of artichokes. I worked on Legion Stonehenge white paper using Faber Castell Polychromos, Prismacolor Soft Core and Caran d'Ache Luminance colored pencils. 

My finished drawing will be 6x24" but my paper size is 7x25" because I will have to trim edges (scroll down to read more about that). I began by sizing my reference photos in PhotoShop and printing each one so that I could determine size and placement for my composition. As I was happy with the layout, I sketch in all the artichokes and some of the details on the paper with lead pencil. 

Next I began adding color, I like to start with Faber Castell Polychromos pencils as they are a harder pencil and work well for the first layers of color. I layer Prismacolor and Luminance pencils on top. I used Luminance pencils for all of the pinks and purples because they are the most lightfast. I did use three purples from my Polychromos box and Black Cherry from my Prismacolor collection. 

My finished piece is 7x25" and I will mount it on a 6x24" 2"-cradled Ampersand Claybord panel. You can use other brands of gessoed panels, I just happened to have the Ampersand panel in the correct size at my studio. I apply a sheet of Grafix Double Tack Mounting Film on the back of my drawing and – this is the tricky part – very carefully line up my drawing with the panel so when I stick it down, the image is straight and I have about a half inch of the paper border on all edges. This is tricky because once the sticky film touches the Claybord surface, it is not repositionable. 

I turn the piece face down and carefully trim the edges with a sharp knife. Some of the edges may be rough so I will carefully sand them with sandpaper. I also may need to touch up edges of the drawing. Next I spray two even coats of Krylon UV Resistant Clear and three coats of Krylon Kamar Varnish.

Below is my finished piece hanging on my studio wall. Not the best photo but you get the idea!

Friday, March 13, 2020

Hot Spots!

What I am doing while the Coronavirus spreading and scaring us all is working on new drawings. I started and finished this colored pencil drawing within two weeks, however the idea as been percolating in my thoughts for about two months. I have been working on some new drawings with stacked tea cups as my subject matter (I will post the others later) and wanted to create a drawing with dots reflected from the surface onto the cups. I wanted to achieve a design with brightly colored cups against a dark background.

My reference photo is the last photo, I couldn't find a dotted paper for the tea cups to sit upon so I created my own in Adobe Photoshop, printed them out and taped the sheets together to form the surface. The next step was to place the tea cups in order to achieve interesting reflections on the cups themselves. I moved them around and pulled down window shades so less light was reflected onto the shiny surfaces of the cups. I took many photos and later chose the one I liked best. 

I chose UArt 800 grit sanded pastel paper for the surface. This paper holds many layers of pencils and builds brilliant color quickly. It also smudges easily, you can see the marks on the paper below. I used Faber Castell Polychromos colored pencils for the first layer of color. Polychromos are an oil based pencil and keep a harder point than some of the waxier brands. They are perfect for this sanded surface and for burnishing the color into the paper with a bristle brush in order to create a solid surface of color. I continued with Polychromos for subsequent layers but also used Caran d'Ache Pablo and Prismacolor colored pencils if I needed other colors I didn't have in the Polychromos box.  Pablo pencils are also oil based and keep a harder point, Prismacolor are wax based and softer so they are better for top layers of color. 

I spray the drawing in between layers with workable fixative to keep the color in place. 

To create the solid background, I used a Staedtler Karat Aquarelle black watercolor pencil. I loosely and lightly apply the strokes to the surface without worrying about putting them on evenly. I keep the layer light because when I add water with a brush, it becomes a vibrant black (the surface behind the cups). Add just enough water to dissolve and move the pencil around, try to keep it as evenly toned as possible.

I have a solid black surface and after it dries I will add lighter colors that will give me a variation in colors and tones for my background because I don't want it to remain a solid black that will overpower my tea cups. I used three colors predominantly for the background: Polychromos Caput Mortuum, Pablo Greenish Black and Pablo Dark Gray. I spray with workable fixative.

I work on my light colors last because of all the pencil dust that moves around. I add my white dots and punch up all the light colors just before the drawing is finished.

I am excited about this piece! Maybe I should create a series!

Below is my reference photo I took from my still life set up:

Friday, February 14, 2020

Colored Pencil Pineapple

Happy Valentines' Day!

I have been working on this unique pineapple plant I saw while visiting Mounts Botanical Garden in Palm Beach Florida  last year. I liked the different colors and tones of pink, red, yellow and purple in the pineapple and the way it was nestled into the plant leaves. It intrigued me because the colors made it so different from the usual pineapples I see in the grocery store.

Using Stonehenge drawing paper, I drew my 8x10" image, adding more details to the pineapple. I looked up what I would call little leaves in the pineapple surface but they’re actually called flowers. Those little flowers are so intricate containing little books and crannies that can get confusing. I began by laying in the darks with in and around the flowers with Prismacolor Black Raspberry. I chose Black Raspberry as a base tone because I saw purple/brown in the colorful darks. I am working the whole area of the pineapple.

Next I chose to lay in the small purple blossoms so I wouldn’t confuse them with other parts. As the base color I chose Caran d’Ache Luminance Manganese Violet.  The next step I decided to lay in my lightest areas. I am using the white of the paper for my lightest areas so my next lightest tones are Prismacolor Limepeel & Luminance Yellow Ochre. I used Prismacolor Chartreuse for the top brighter leaves.

Next step I am adding various greens and browns to the flowers to establish medium values/tones and different shades of colors in the pineapple flowers and help them to read as a whole together.

As I am happy with color choices, I continue to work on the lights, darks and colors of the pineapple until I am pleased with how it looks.

I think I skipped a few steps in between, I was trying to take photos as I worked but sometimes get caught up in the drawing process and forget! After working the pineapple I began to draw the surrounding leaves but creating the colors and shapes of the leaves so they would support the pineapple and allow it to be the focal point of the drawing. I started by laying in large areas of color and then shaping the leaves and rendering the tones/values.

Here is a progression of images. My last image is scanned into my computer so the colors are more accurate.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Upcycled Book Sculptures & One Hollowed Out Book

A new year and new work! I started out the month of January by creating two new book sculptures. I like the quiet of winter after the busy holidays, plus here in New England it tends to be cold and gray most of the time. What better time to get the creative thought process going and starting new projects and creating new works.

I am working on some new colored pencil drawings but when I decide to take a break from drawing, I like to fold, cut and glue my book sculptures. I have several others that have been in progress for months and sit on a shelf awaiting my inspiration to find them.

I began the Gallery of Flowers book (top photo) a few months ago. I cut a large hole through the cover of the book leaving some of the cover pieces standing up to read as blades of grass or sections of grass since they are rather thick. I hand cut the floral illustrations from the book pages and placed them in various positions to appear they are growing out of the book. I had to cut thin strips of foam core and glue to the backs of the flowers in order to keep them standing upright.

This is a French book that I bought at a used book store for $1. It's rather old, it was published in 1908 and the book plate in the front says it was in a library collection from 1910. The pages were yellowed and brittle but the cover is so unique and intricately designed.

I glued the pages together and hollowed out the book in order to create the little shadowbox collage. I glued the handmade paper with the fern design to the inside cover and first page to make hinge sturdier and add interest to the front pages.

I started working on the inside shadowbox. I began by creating the empty spool of thread as a vase filled with the paper flowers. From there I decided to create the dress on the wire hanger hung from the twig. It took me a while and a few unused designs to come up with exactly how I wanted the dress to look. From there I added the whirly sun in the corner, butterfly and bench image from another book. The book is written in French, I like that the French language on the pages also compliments the sculpture.

I must add that I may seem to put these book sculptures together quickly, the concept and thought process may take months. I purchased both of these books many months ago and spent a lot of time thinking of ideas and how to transform them. I would say the thought process takes a lot more time than the actual construction.

I also have to add that I sold both of these books immediately and am excited they are so well received! I do enjoy creating art from recycled materials!

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Making People Happy with My Art!

I created this colored pencil drawing in black and grays for this happy couple. The surface is vellum surface bristol paper. The portrait is of Linden Place in Bristol, RI. This couple were married in the Linden Place ballroom and grounds in 2013 and asked for a black & white photo of Linden Place for Christmas. The husband's parents went one step further and asked me to draw the portrait instead of giving them a photo. I was happy to draw the portrait and even happier when I heard how much they loved it!

This is a second colored pencil portrait I was commissioned to work on for a Christmas gift of three grandchildren as a surprise for their grandparents. I worked on Cream Legion Stonehenge paper using both Prismacolor and Caran d'Ache Luminance pencils. I took a few pictures of my starting process, I began with brown shadowed undertones using Prismacolor Light Umber and Sienna Brown pencils. I then added Prismacolor Dark Umber, Periwinkle Blue and Luminance Violet Brown to shadowed parts then added Luminance Anthraquinoid Pink to rosy areas. I added pink and skin tones over the darker colors and later lifted a bit of dark areas with a kneaded eraser.

This took me a while and I have to admit I was very nervous about how the finished portrait would be received. Unfortunately I have never met these children and worked from various photos given to me. I hoped that I captured the likenesses enough to please the grandparents and I understand they are thrilled with the portrait so that made me very happy! and relieved!

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Colored Pencil Dog Portrait Commission

This is a recent 8x8" dog portrait I created in colored pencil for a client to give as a gift. The dog's owner lost this attractive guy earlier in the year and misses him terribly. I worked on Canson Ingres gray paper that I would later to mount to an 8x8" DaVinci Medium Textured Canvas Panel from Jerry's Artarama. You can see the progress in the photos above. I used Prismacolor, Caran d'Ache Luminance and Derwent Drawing brands of colored pencils to create the portrait. I also burnish the colored pencil layers with a stiff brush to smooth out the pencil and alleviate the texture of the paper showing through.

I recently purchased a set of 24 Derwent Drawing colored pencils and have been liking their soft buttery feel as well as the range of colors, many are earthy natural colors perfect for creating pet portraits. These pencils also claim to be extremely lightfast.I try to choose the most lightfast pencils for my works so they won't fade through the years.

After mounting and trimming the edges of the paper to the canvas panel, I spray varnish the piece and edges with Krylon UV Resistant Clear to seal the colored pencil and then 3 coats of Krylon Kamar Varnish allowing each layer to dry in between.