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.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Drawing Copper & Metals in Colored Pencil

My lesson this past week was to have my students draw objects in different metals; shiny silver, copper and iron. Most of my students in this session are new to colored pencil so it was not only a challenge for them but also for me.

I draw and understand which colors I choose and how I layer pencils but sometimes it can be difficult to verbalize to students. Everyone sees color and value/tone differently, new students don't always see every detail of the subject they are drawing and I often assist with the correct angle or perspective.

This was our fourth class in the series and this week one of my students said she is beginning to notice things she never noticed before. For instance, when she looked outside she noticed cast shadows from sunlight and moonlight. She also began to notice different colors and shades/tones of color. This excited me because I feel that I am succeeding in teaching not only to render subjects but to really study and see characteristics and relationships to surroundings.

 These photos are sketches I did for the class trying to simplify drawing metal. I chose the spoon as a quick study and (hopefully) easy way for my students to understand reflections and different values/tones in metal. I started with an outline and denoted shapes where the light was reflecting. My photo shows more white reflected areas than I was actually seeing.

Leaving the reflected highlights the white of the paper, I drew the different values using Prismacolor Warm Greys #30, #50, #70 and black. I shaded the spoon in gradual transitions from light to dark. I added some contour line on the edges of the spoon but careful not to outline whole shapes, just varying my pressure so lines are more prevalent in some areas and softer or fading away in others.

In my final drawing below, I burnished with a bristle brush to remove the texture of the paper and added a few more darks where needed.

Here are some examples of student work. I also let students choose the color of paper to work use for a background. I was so busy helping students achieve their goals that I only got three photos at the end of class. I was really pleased that each student chose a metal object that was challenging!

Thursday, November 21, 2019

White Objects in Colored Pencil

My colored pencil class lesson yesterday was to have my Bristol Art Museum students draw white objects on gray toned Canson Mi-Tientes paper. Working on a toned paper helps the student create a full range of value and tone in her drawing. When we begin with a toned surface, we start somewhere in the middle of the value scale and will only need to push the values lighter and darker.

I have collected various white objects in different shapes, textures and degrees of difficulty and I encouraged my students to select an object or objects each would feel comfortable drawing. We began the class with a short talk about our lesson and I also like to present a short PowerPoint presentation with examples of my works and other artists' works pertaining to the lesson. 

As they began working, I asked students to take a few minutes to study their still life objects and determine the light and dark tones. White shapes will come forward and dark shapes will recede; as an object curves away from the light, it will become darker causing a gradual change from light to dark. I will help my students determine the lights, darks and shadows and how different textures will affect light and dark tones. 

Each student began with 3 colored pencils white, medium toned gray and dark gray. This helps to simplify applying color and tones. All students were using Prismacolor pencils in either Warm or Cool Grays. After completing the initial value drawing in grays, I asked my students if they were able to see hints of colors in their objects and encouraged each to add some color in order to create some interest and some colorful grays. 

I like to end class with a little sharing of works and discussion about the lesson and how each students interpreted their subjects in colored pencil. It also helps my students stand away from the drawing and see how each drawing looks at a distance; are values significant enough? Do shapes and composition work? I also like them to look at other students' and see how each person interpreted their subject(s). 

Our class time is 3 hours long and during that time I guide each student through drawing and making color and value choices. Many of the students in this class are new to colored pencil and some are new to the drawing medium. I was pleased with the results – each student starting to develop her own style of working and choice of subject matter. 

Thursday, November 14, 2019

November Book Sculpture

My husband recently had a knee replacement surgery so that meant I was also homebound and had to be attentive for more than a week. I had a difficult time focusing on drawing with colored pencil so I decided to create a few book sculptures with my available time instead.

I had seen a picture on the internet of a similar turkey book sculpture and decided to try my own in honor of upcomingThanksgiving. I took a small book I had purchased somewhere and began folding all of the pages in triangles. Afterward I added tail feathers, long semi-circles folded in half and glued between the folded pages. the head were two book pages folded together and cut into a head and neck shape. I colored only the eye and 'gobble'.

I was invited to a ladies' night party and I presented the hostess with this book sculpture as a gift. She really loved it and is going to put it on her table for her Thanksgiving dinner. On a side note - my friend and hostess' husband is experimenting with cutting books for me with his power tools. This will open up a whole new creative process, I am thinking up ideas for cut book sculptures! So much fun in between my drawing projects.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Handmade Book Workshop

I taught a 2-day Handmade Accordion Book Workshop at my studio last week. I asked students to choose a theme before the workshop and have some reference photos or ideas to put on each page. We decided on a 5x5" size and to design six pages. I let them choose the color and type of paper for the accordion format. This student chose Light Blue Canson Mi-Teintes  as her surface. Her theme is birds and she drew the birds on white paper with colored pencils. She wanted to tie the birds and the pages together by sitting the birds on a continuing branch beginning at one end and ending at the other end of the accordion book. She cut out the birds and glued them onto the Canson Mi-Teintes surface.

Using book binders board and colorful Asian decorative paper I helped her to put the covers together to complete her book.

This student created two books using some of her previous prints of colored leaves and small pieces of handmade and decorative papers. She chose white paper for her accordion book background and collaged elements onto the pages. We used Jade glue mixed with methyl cellulose (helps when repositioning pieces) for thicker pieces and the cover and Uhu glue stick for lighter papers. Both types of glue are archival and permanent. All of the papers and boards we used are also archival so they will last and remain their true colors as time passes.

I really enjoyed teaching and assisting my students to put their creative ideas into handmade books!

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Pet Portrait of Nikki

 I was asked to create this pet portrait as an anniversary gift for the owners of this beautiful Golden Retriever Nikki. My customer asked for a small piece that could be hung or displayed on a stand. We decided on an 8x8"image in colored pencil that would be mounted on Ampersand Clayboard 3/4" cradled panel to be unframed and varnished.

I chose to work on Fabriano Tiziano paper, the color is Felt Gray. This is one of my favorite papers for pet portraits. I like the textured and flecked background so I will let the paper show through as the background behind Nikki.

My first step is to layout the drawing and put in the outlines in graphite pencil. I don't have to add a lot of detail to my initial line drawing but I want to be sure I have important features such as the eyes, nose and mouth in the proper positions. Using a sgraffito tool (has a blunt pointy end that will impress lines into the paper) I have impressed lines into the paper where the whiskers and some of the hairs will be. That way I can add color over the area and the whiskers will remain the color of the paper.

Using Prismacolor, Derwent Drawing and Luminance colored pencils I add white, cream, warm yellows, red browns, browns and warm grays to the drawing building and layering colors on the paper. Some of the areas have been burnished with a bristle brush; particularly the eyes, nose and tongue. My customer asked me to leave the drawing somewhat "sketchy" and simple and I did that by letting the drawing softly flow to the edges.

I did receive feedback from the owners and they love the piece. It's small enough to fit in a small space on the wall and enjoyed every day!

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Accordion Book and Colored Pencil Workshop

I am going to be teaching this 2 day workshop in October. Please contact me if you would like more information or to register. It's going to be a lot of fun. Although I realize many of my readers aren't in the area! 

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Colored Pencil Portrait of Six Goats

I was asked by a customer to draw a 'goat' portrait of these six goats for their owner's upcoming birthday. The drawing is going to be a surprise! I was really excited about the idea so the customer and I jumped into her car and drove over to the see the goats. We went into the barn area and I was able to take multiple reference photos of the goats to use when creating the drawing. The goats were so curious! You can see the looks on their faces.

The drawing is approximately 8x16" and is drawn with Caran d'Ache Pablo and Prismacolor brands of colored pencil on Oyster colored Canson Mi Teintes paper.