Thursday, February 17, 2011

Dark Background with Colored Pencil and Solvent

This is how I create my rich dark backgrounds for some of my still life pieces. Just a reminder that I am working on Ampersand Gessobord with a coat of Terra Cotta Colourfix applied on the surface. In the top photo, I've started with a layer of Prismacolor Indanthrone Blue (LF208) but you can also use Indigo Blue. I like the Indanthrone Blue rather than the Indigo because it is not as intense as indigo and more "blue" if that makes any sense. I also don't layer it on very evenly because I'm going to add solvent to melt and move the pencil around so it doesn't matter how neatly it is applied. Next I begin with a small amount of odorless mineral spirits on my brush, sometimes I dab it on a paper towel so it doesn't run or puddle when I apply it to the surface, it just has to be wet enough to melt the pencil so it will almost turn into a paint like substance. I work small areas at one time with a flat brush which is shown in the top left. Its a Loew-Cornell inexpensive wash brush with soft nylon bristles to brush strokes won't show. I purchase this brush at a craft store.
In this photo, the sun is glinting when I took the picture so you can see the strokes in the sunlight but not when it dries.
These 2 photos you may have to enlarge to see. I decided to put a lighter blue on top and chose Prismacolor Copenhagen Blue. I apply it on the Indanthrone Blue while it is still a little wet but not too wet or the Copenhagen Blue will mush and not apply. Then I brush it smooth with very little mineral spirits on my brush, almost a dry brush. The top photo shows the Copenhagen Blue smoothed out and the bottom photo shows the area above where I began to work the next section of color. You can see how I apply the Copenhagen Blue in strokes which don't have to be exactly even.
This is the finished background ... however ... I think the backgound is a beautiful color but is too vibrant and is coming forward to compete with the apples and not sitting back as it should be.
So in order to compensate, I add a layer of Cool Gray 90% to the entire background. I do this by slightly dampening the background working small areas at a time, laying down a layer of the Cool Gray 90% and then gently brushing it smooth. I find that I have to hold it to the light and inspect the finish because some areas are applied heavier than others and can cause inconsistencies. You can always alternate between pencil and brush to make the color more consistent. Sometimes I also use my fingers to move the wet pencil around and remove brush strokes. Like finger painting! In this last photo, the sun was shining when I took the picture so some of the brush strokes are showing. The background of my original is also more gray than it appears in the picture. This whole process for the (11x14") background takes about an hour. I hope this helps if anyone wants to give this process a try!

Monday, February 14, 2011

American Art Collector - March Issue

I'm plugging along with more candy apple pieces so I won't post them until they are finished and framed because it's my usual process. So rather, I'm including the pages from the next issue of American Art Collector. Through the Bristol Art Gallery, I am included in the feature editorial of Florals and Botanicals on pages 100 and 104. Page 104 shows my colored pencil piece "Calla Lilies" which was inspired by a trip to Kew Gardens in London a few years ago. American Art Collector is a great magazine highlighting different artwork from all over the USA. I enjoy seeing subjects and mediums other artists choose and happy to see other colored pencil artists featured. Its nice to see colored pencil gaining recognition in galleries and art magazines.

I'm in Florida right now and entered three small colored pencil pieces that I worked on board and varnished into a community art exhibit here. I can't tell you how many favorable comments I received and how many people said, "that's colored pencil?!" I really enjoy introducing viewers to different processes and new ways of seeing art.

Monday, February 7, 2011

An Eventful Week

I was down for the count this past week with the flu, couldn't believe it because I don't think I've ever had the flu before and have never considered getting a flu shot. That might change now because I spent a miserable week of laying around in bed.

The next thing that happened was a little more exciting ... for a moment or two. I was contacted by an art gallery in New York City asking if I would be interested in being represented by them and could they send me their contract to look over. This really excited me, a gallery in NYC looking to represent me? And I didn't even have to hit the pavement with my portfolio! However, when I read over the contract I realized they are looking for the artist to pay $2950 per year for representation. It seems that most of the art exposure is through their website or advertisements, and perhaps for one collective exhibit in the gallery itself. Plus they still take 30% commission on sales. I'm not in a position to spend this kind of money but I'm wondering if anyone else is familiar with this practice or have heard whether an arrangement like this is worthwhile? I would be interested in comments.

Meanwhile, I have started another candy apple piece for my Rock/Candy exhibit with Debbi Friedman. The surface is 3/4" cradled Ampersand Gessobord with Terra Cotta Colourfix Primer, the usual surface I like for my candy apple pieces. I add a little bit of water to the Colourfix before applying it so the surface is a little less textured. I've started by laying on the first layer of color on the apples, mingling the pinks and reds.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

CPSA Explore This! 7

Explore This! 7 went on line today. The exhibition and award winners can be viewed here. I'm fortunate to have my piece included in the exhibit.

I alway find it fun and interesting to see what mediums, surfaces and techniques other artists are using with colored pencils.