Monthly Archives: March 2014

White Daffodil

White DaffodilThis week’s adventure with colored pencils was learning how to draw white subjects. The main point to consider when depicting any white object is that white like any other color is not flat. The color is effected by the light and its surroundings. For example, a white flower in a garden will have some areas that are bright white, some areas that are in shadow, and other areas that are somewhere in between the two extremes. In those in between and shadow areas the color will not be a even gray instead it will reflect the colors around it. For example if there are leaves then some of the color will be reflected onto the white. It is by careful observation that we obtain the information necessary to complete our drawing.

For our class project my students observed violets, grays, blues, greens, and yellows in the white petals of the daffodil and used those colors to create the dimensionality in their drawings. They all did a fantastic job and it was so wonderful for me to hear them talk about how they saw so much more color in the white the longer they looked at their flower. My interpretation is included above.

The adventure is almost over, Wednesday is our last class. Check back soon to find out what we drew. Cheers!


Animal Fur

Brown HareAfter missing class last week due to a snowstorm, this week’s Colored Pencil class was about drawing fur. While it may seem challenging at first drawing fur in colored pencil is straightforward if you keep a few things in mind:

  • Keep your pencils sharp – a dull pencil will not give you good results.
  • Alter the length of your strokes – fur is not all one length, don’t make your marks all the same.
  • Go in the direction that the fur grows – turn your paper to make it easier to draw.
  • Use several colors – fur is not all one color add light and dark colors to your mix to create depth and texture.
  • For white hairs and whiskers incise (impress) the lines using a sharp, hard white pencil – the lines will show up once you apply the color around it.
  • Be patient – drawing fur takes a lot of time and many layers of color, work slowly for the best results.

Our class project was a portrait of a brown hare. My students chose shades of dark red, brown, goldenrod, gray, and black which gave them the variety needed to create a realistic looking animal. At the end of class they were all surprised by how well they had done. Not only do I love seeing how much they have progressed in a few short weeks but it is so interesting that even though everyone used the same reference photo they each interpreted the colors just a little bit differently to create something that is uniquely theirs.

I always do the class project beforehand, it helps me become familiar with the subject and I can point out changes that will make the composition work better or tips for how I approached specific areas. My interpretation of the brown hare is above.

Until next class, cheers!


Alternative Method

PeonyEver since I was first introduced to Chinese Brush Painting I have loved it. There is a simple elegance to the way a painting is created with the focus being placed on capturing the spirit or essence of the subjects. Over the years I have practiced these techniques and have enjoyed the process except for one thing. I have never been able to find an ink that does not smell to me. For many people this is not a problem, for those of us that are sensitive to these smells it is a barrier. I could forego using ink and just use watercolors but I like the way the tones of gray add to a painting and using black watercolor paint does not give adequate results.

So, what does this have to do with anything? The other day I was going through my art books and a painting of a peony caught my attention. It was done in the outline method and I had an idea – what if I used my Graphitint pencils to create the outline? These pencils combine water-soluble graphite with a touch of color. After a few tests the midnight black produced just the right shade of gray. I had several reference photos of peonies so I drew one in my Stillman & Birn Zeta sketchbook. I painted the petals and leaves with NeoColor II water-soluble pastels and added the plant name to complete the composition.

I thought I wouldn’t be able to create any more Chinese Brush Paintings and although this is technically not the same it is inspired by it and that is OK with me. I think that is one of the great things about art, with a little experimentation and a few inexpensive supplies you can achieve your goals.

Happy Painting!


Golden Fur

Golden PuppyMy colored pencil class was cancelled this week because of a snowstorm so instead of teaching I tried out my new gray toned paper. I have a reference photo of a golden retriever puppy, its light colored fur is the perfect subject for testing out this paper. Although the manufacturer lists it as a medium surface it does not have much tooth. I was a bit concerned that the smooth surface wouldn’t hold up to all the pencil layers needed to represent the fur. To prevent this problem an initial layer of pastel pencil was applied to the paper. This technique is called underpainting and it is very useful for covering large areas with color. By establishing the base color I could use fewer layers of pencil to create the texture. I like how this drawing came out, his soulful expression gives him a lot of personality.