Thursday, April 28, 2011

Brightly Colored Orchids

I put the golfers aside and started a new colored pencil drawing. This one is on 12x12" Ampersand cradled gessobord. The surface of the gessobord is coated with Burgundy Colourfix liquid primer mixed with red Art Spectrum Liquid Spectrum ink to brighten the burgundy colored base. I chose this color for the background because I feel it will compliment the bright purples of the orchid blossoms nicely and still work well with the greens of the leaves. My reference photo is at the top of the photo.

So I began by drawing in the white areas of the flowers and little yellow centers. Most of the white areas are drawing with white pencil although I used some Powder Blue, Cream and Peach for the flowers behind others. The nice part about this textured surface is that it will take many layers and I can adjust any color or value issues that I need to.

Next I moved onto the leaves and began choosing and laying in some greens. I am using gray greens; Sage, Kelly, Celadon and Limepeel rather than the bright greens. I want the blossoms to pop forward and the green leaves to settle in the background. I'm going to have fun with this piece, especially the beautiful purples and bright pinks of the orchids themselves.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Portrait of Three Golfers

Working on my art has been a bit slow because of issues with my dad. I'm losing my mind while he's losing his mind! His health is holding steady, now the problem is with his memory, confusion and some dementia which I find an incredible challenge. He fights me on every decision that needs to be made regarding his health and I just get so tired. The doctor has just put him on a new medication for memory issues and I'm hoping it will work.

Enough complaining! In the last few weeks I've been working on this portrait for my husband. The portrait of the three golfers are my husband (left) and his two best friends. I won't put their names in the blog because the portrait is a surprise. Although I doubt my husband or his friends will even read my blog! When it's finished we are going to have giclees made so he can present each friend with a print. These three lucky golfers have played golf courses in Ireland, Scotland and Wales. This year They are going to a world tournament in Deal, England (although the name of the tournament escapes me).

I wanted to portray them as happy and casual with the lovely landscape of this golf course in Scotland behind them. My husband had some special requests such as take a few pounds off him, remove wrinkles and make them all look younger. Yeah right, easier said than done! The piece measures 17x23" but their faces are only 1 1/2" wide. I began the drawing with the faces, because if I couldn't get their likenesses, then it wasn't worth doing the portait. And I learned that it's very difficult to get the likeness of a person when the face is so small because you have be able to draw it in a few strokes. Would you believe, the person I had the most trouble with was my own husband? His skin tone is darker and I found the browns made him look too wooden. I used purples, flesh, peach and some light browns. The surface I chose is white illustration board and I started with the Prismacolor and Coloursoft pencils then added Polychromos and Prismacolor Verithins to burnish and fill in the grain of the paper so white specks wouldn't show through. I also used a small bristle brush to burnish areas I wanted smooth. Two areas I still think I need to work on are their teeth, they may be too white and the grass which is much brighter green than I had intended. I don't think the grass area will take any more layers of pencil so I think I'll try blending either watercolor or pastel on top. Any suggestions? Please comment!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Eye Candy 2 Opens Today

My solo exhibit at Bristol Art Gallery, Bristol, Rhode Island, opens today and continues through June 3rd. The opening tonight is from 5 to 8 p.m. Here is the largest wall with my work, however the fish with the big teeth in front isn't mine! This is a wonderful gallery with many other intriguing artists in all mediums. Everyone is invited, for anyone in the area, please feel free to stop by at the opening or through June 3rd.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Fixing Mistakes in Colored Pencil

Here is the tulip piece I was working on last summer. I searched my blog and the last entry I could find contained this bottom photo with the brown background. I finished the piece, entered it into a national exhibit (which it was rejected from) and then it just in my studio for several months. Meanwhile, I kept looking at it and saying to myself, "something is wrong". One of the artists in my studio came by and told me the brown background was killing the piece! I was trying to choose a background that sit back quietly and let all the action happen in the foreground and I failed.

So ... I scraped the entire background off with transparent tape (middle photo). Believe me, this took hours because I had to work small sections at a time. And its something I wouldn't want to do again. Although, it looks kind of cool. I had applied so many layers of pencil on the paper that I couldn't pull the color entirely off. I almost left the drawing this way but decided to experiment more and apply another background.

The top photo shows the finished piece. After scraping off the background, I applied several layers and colors of pastel in grays, blues and greens. I rubbed each layer/color into the surface so that it wouldn't overpower the delicate tulips and glass bottles. I took the brown reflections out of the glass and added the grays reflected from the background. Thus, the entire background is pastel worked very gently around the subjects and worked into some of the tulips to make some of them fade into the background.

This drawing has been a learning experience and somewhat of an experiment. I kind of like what's going on in the piece where I removed the background but wouldn't really want to take the hours to apply all that pencil and then remove it. What did I learn? To really think before choosing a background that works with the subject and that you can remove large areas and reapply color!

Monday, April 4, 2011


Splendor is the title I chose for my "bowl of cherries" colored pencil piece. I've been working on and off for a month, especially on intricate patterns in the glass dish. As I mentioned previously, I used several brands of pencils; Prismacolor, Derwent Coloursoft, Luminance, Lyra Rembrandt and Prismacolor Verithin. The surface is Rtistx board which is a sanded surface so I began with the Prismacolor and Coloursoft pencils which are softer, especially the reds which are very soft pigment. On top of the softer pencils I filled in the textured surface and burnished with the Lyra Rembrandt pencils and Luminance. I especially liked the Luminance white for burnishing the white patterns in the dish. It was just hard enough and opaque enough to cover the surface perfectly. I used some of the Verithin pencils, especially the Tuscan Red to burnish the dark shadowed area behind the cherries.

I needed to render the cherries in a slightly different way to make them pop off the surface and not compete with the intricate dish pattern so I added solvent to the pencil. By adding solvent I dissolved layers of pencil so that it is applied in a thick layer. When it was dry, I added a top layer of lighter red Prismacolor and Coloursoft pencils to really make those cherries pop.

The finished size is 14x17", varnished and framed without glass in a warm silver frame and linen liner. This piece is going to Bristol Art Gallery for my solo exhibit Eye Candy 2 opening this Saturday, April 9.