Friday, January 28, 2011

Elaina's Portrait

I have so many colors in this portrait that I'm starting to lose my sanity! I wouldn't recommend working on a portrait of someone from a photo and not being able to see that person in life. This is my niece who lives in Arizona so I am relying on photos in which to work from. The photos flatten and dull her skin tone so I am trying to bring her skin tones to life. Today I asked one of the artists in the studio to help me. First thing she said was that I had done an incredible job with the hair. I must say that I really enjoyed rendering the hair but its the face I want to bring to life. The she said I added too much brown to her skin tone and she needed more warm pinks and oranges to make her look like a child. I agreed because I had added Prismacolor Chestnut and Black Raspberry which are nice warm purple-browns but they dulled her complexion. Thank goodness Stonehenge paper erases so easily. I lifted off the brown tones and gave all of her skin tone a wash of Prismacolor Pale Vermillion which warmed everything up. So upward and onward I go with the portrait hoping that one of these days I will have my skin colors down to a science like my candy apple colors!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Salmagundi Club Award

In a previous blog entry, I noted that two of my colored pencil works had been accepted into the Special President's Exhibition; Photography and Graphics, which is a juried member exhibit. And I was even more excited when I received a call from the Salmagundi Club telling me that I had won The President's Award, First Award for this piece, Cherries on China.

Cherries on China also previously won second prize at an exhibit in Rhode Island, however, it was rejected from the CPSA national exhibit when I submitted it two years ago. This is a reminder to us as artists that art is subjective and we shouldn't despair if a piece is not accepted into an exhibit or given an award. I am always disappointed when I'm not accepted into an exhibit I really want to be a part of but I try not to be discouraged. There are many reasons why a particular piece isn't accepted; could be that it just didn't fit in with the other works or wasn't that judge's particular style. I've been told that my work can be too photo realistic at times also. Each piece of my artwork is a part of me, almost like another child. I have to remind myself not to take it personally if my art is rejected. On the other hand, at times like this, I am so jubilant and elated when I am accepted into an exhibit or an art organization or win an award! It's all just part of the artist's journey.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Working on Two at Once!

I started going to a new acupuncturist late last summer and when she found out I am an artist, she told me that she could heighten my creativity and creative ideas. Well, I think its working because I've got so many ideas rattling around in my head that I just wish I had more time to put them all down on paper or board.

For the time being, I will settle on finishing these two pieces. I'm working on the surface the vase of tulips is sitting on. I started with a layer of Powder Blue, then a layer of LF285 LIght Oxide and added solvent to blend the two. While the solvent was wet I added a layer of Cool Grey 30% - working only small areas at a time. While the glass table surface was that color, it appeared too light in value for the rest of the drawing. When it dried, I added many light layers of colors, so many I can't even remember them all because I've been going back and forth with light layers. I think I can name some of them; Periwinkle Blue, Parma Violet, Violet Blue, Cool Grey 50% and 70%, Kelly Green, Dark Green, and Tuscan Red. I think it may be just about done but I've stood it in my studio and every time I walk by, I'll look at it and ponder what more needs to be done.
I'm back to Elaina and working on her skin tones. In lightest areas I've added Deco Peach and Deco Pink over the color already there. I also think that parts of her too purple-brown (such as the shadowed area on her bottom arm that will need to be fixed. I'm added Periwinkle, Blue Violet Lake and Coloursoft Grey Green (one of my favorite colored pencils!) to the shadows in her skin tones and Spanish Orange for the glow in her face, which I may decide to take out later. Portrait work, for me, is a learning experience and goes slowly but I'm a perfectionist and enjoy the journey!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Tulips Coming to Life

I've been working on this drawing this week and having so much fun with it. As in my last post, I mentioned that I began with the flowers and leaves. I worked them in Prismacolors and Lyra Rembrandts and then added Prismacolor Verithins on top to burnish and fill in areas I wanted to appear solid. I took the original photo on my deck and did not like the background so I played with the image in Photoshop, cut out the vase and tried different backgrounds. It took me several hours of learning how to make it work in Photoshop and choosing a background, but in the end decided on this blue & gray cloudy sky.

I began the background with Periwinkle, Cool Grey 30% and white in the dark and light areas, added solvent and then added several other Cool Greys, Slate Grey, Blue Violet Lake, Imperial Violet, Powder Blue and more white. I blended with the brush and then with my fingers. When I finished the background, I found there was too much of a disparity between the solid paint-like appearance of the sky and the textured pencil application of the flowers. I didn't want to add solvent to the flowers because the solvent sort of mushes the colors together and the petals will lose the transparency of the layers of color showing through each other. So I decided to lightly burnish just about all of the petals and leaves with a colorless blender so that the texture of the board wouldn't show through and they would stand out from the background. It worked and next I am onto the bottom area.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Oh happy snow day!

Our New England weather has been cold and snowy and I haven't been to the studio to work on Elaina and so I started a new colored pencil piece over the weekend at home. I have some photos of beautiful red and yellow tulips in a glass vase in which I took on a gray day and have been thinking about them for a while. My idea and inspiration is to portray the vase of tulips as vibrant and bright against a quiet blue/gray background of a rainy day. The surface in which I'm working on 18x24" Rtistx board. This photo (above) isn't great, I took it inside in natural light and the brightness of snow out the window is graying everything in the front, however the tulips are still fairly bright enough to get the idea of my start.

The galleries are asking for my colored pencil work not to be framed under glass. The lighting from above reflects on the glass and the piece is difficult to see. So I have to rethink my surfaces. I Chose Rtistx for this piece because it can be varnished but also has less texture than the other boards I work on. I need a softer surface for the delicate petals and leaves, yet still a board that can withstand being varnished afterward.

After reading Paula Pertile's blog entry on colored pencil swatches for the various brands, I decided to give my Lyra Rembrandt pencils a workout on this piece. The Prismas and Coloursofts are softer and crumble a bit and flake off as I layer them. I'm still using them along with the Rembrandts which aren't as crumbly and can be applied a little more evenly. Paula is correct, they do go on like 'buttah'! The Rtistx is also wonderful for layering lights on top of darks and will take many layers of color. The white surface makes the color even more vibrant. I don't like to burnish much on my work, I like the texture of the surface and characteristics of the pencil to show through. If I do decide I need to cover some of the texture and solidify areas of the colored pencil, I will add solvent.
Here is the ad with my artwork that will appear in February issue of American Art Collector magazine. I also found out today that this piece "Red Reflections" was juried into CPSA's Explore This 7 Online Exhibition that will be on the website starting February 1. This is my 4th acceptance into the Explore This exhibitions. I'm also very excited because one of my c.p. students, Cheryl Borbone, had her piece "Cherry Martini" accepted into Explore This 7. While she worked on this piece independently, I am happy to have helped her develop her colored pencil skills over the last few years she has taken classes with me.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Ann Kullberg's new Colored Pencil magazine

Ann Kullberg has published a new colored pencil magazine, titled Colored Pencil, now in printed version and Ann has sent me a copy to share with my students. Just like her previous on-line From My Perspective magazine, this one is chocked full of great information, ideas and artwork. This issue features the work of Sally Ford, the journeys of Gemma Gyling and information about how to render wavy hair and working with Photoshop Elements. I am very fortunate to have my colored pencil drawing of sailboats featured on the "Showcase" page. I included the image to the left under the magazine cover.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Portrait of Elaina

After working on the portrait of my niece, Samantha, I decided to try my luck with a portrait of another niece, Elaina. Elaina is 3 years old in this photo and she lives in Arizona so her skin is always a bit tan. Her olive complexion is unlike Samantha's creamy skin so I find myself using all different pencils. As you can probably tell, I was really intrigued with her hair and began at the top. I think I used every brown plus some warm yellows and purples. For her skin, I began by putting a layer of Prismacolor 939 Peach on her skin. Then Mineral Orange, Rosy Beige, Clay Rose, Blush Pink, Burnt Ocher, Henna, Luminance Manganese Violet, Chestnut, Periwinkle and I'm far from being finished. The biggest challenge I'm finding is to capture her olive skin tones without making her skin look like wood. I am cautiously layering skin tone colors!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Working on Pastelbord

Here is the piece finished. All of the white in the background and between the stripes is the white pastelbord surface. The most difficult part of doing this drawing was the pencil dust flaking all over the area of the pastelbord that I wanted to keep white. As we know, working on a sanded surface creates lots of pencil dust. I solved the problem by dabbing with a kneaded eraser and removing all (or most) of the unwanted color in the white areas. Its really helpful to photograph the piece and look at it on the computer because you can see flaws or areas that could be changed. I just noticed the sticks like faint in value/color compared to the rest of the piece.