Monthly Archives: August 2015

Stylized Peacock

The inspiration

Stylized PeacockInspiration for artwork can come from anywhere. Recently I was looking through an art book when I came across the mention of Persian motifs. Being curious I looked online and found a beautiful old stencil of a long-tailed bird. I thought this would be the perfect launching point for a watercolor pencil painting of a stylized peacock. Rather than draw the peacock in painstaking detail I used simple geometric shapes to represent the major features. Keeping the tail feathers simple was the hardest part but some squashed circles were just the right shape for the “eyes.” Long swirls were added for an extra touch of flourish and to give the piece movement. When I was satisfied with the graphite drawing I got out my favorite Derwent watercolor and Inktense (i) pencils and began the fun part – adding color!

The colors

The head and neck were colored with Prussian blue; the back was a mixture of raw sienna, Venetian red, and baked earth (i); the chest was leaf green (i) on the top and a mixture of copper beech and crimson on the bottom part; and the tail feathers were colored with delft blue, sky blue, leaf green (i), and Prussian blue.

A bit of washing

Once all the color was added I loaded a #10 round brush with clean water and wet each section to create a wash. I wanted this to have crisp, clean edges so I didn’t work on sections that were next to each other to keep one wet section from bleeding into the next.

If you are interested in learning about watercolor pencils I will be teaching a class this fall at my town’s local community education program. It’s a great way to experiment with new art materials and techniques in a supportive environment. I hope you’ll join us!

Until next time…keep those pencils sharp!


New Face Paintings

Tenar - New Face PaintingsToday’s new face paintings are much larger than the ones I did in a previous post. Each finished painting is 5 inches x 7 inches. The challenges of drawing faces on a larger scale are mainly due to the effort needed to keep features in proportion. There are a lot of great tutorials online that discuss how to draw faces but I prefer the whimsical approach of Jane Davenport.

My process

I like to use my Derwent light violet watercolor pencil (#26) to do the initial sketch. The light violet works nicely as a shadow color and the lines blend away when you wet them with water. It’s also light enough that if I make a mistake the color lifts off easier than if I had used a darker color like indigo.

You might be wondering why I don’t use graphite for the sketch. It’s true with graphite I can work quicker and erase more but I want to slow down and think about the marks I am making. By using a color I actually work more confidently because I am more aware of each line I make. It may seem counter intuitive but this is actually working for me.

Color Mixing

Frieda - New Face PaintingsI am still working out the colors I need to make the skin tones. For these 2 new face paintings I mixed flesh, golden ochre, flesh pink, and light violet (for the shadows). The skin tones on both paintings are light. I need to go a bit darker to make them a little more realistic but I know this will sort itself out with more practice. Until then I am quite happy with these.

The extras

Once the watercolor pencil was dry, I added details with dry watercolor pencil, white ink, black and sepia micron pens, and one of my new art finds Twinkling H2O’s watercolor paints. Twinklings are little pots of shimmering color that sparkle when light hits them. They are more concentrated than other pearlescent paints so you can use the by themselves or like I did add them over existing color for extra dimension.

I hope you’ll give figure drawing a try. Until next time…keep those pencils sharp!


Drawing Faces

Time for a change

I have been drawing for a long time and over the years I periodically try figure drawing. Because it’s something outside my comfort zone I quickly go back to the safety of drawing plants and animals. After all isn’t “perfection” the end result? And before you wonder what the answer is, it’s no! Let’s break this terrible habit.

Drawing faces

Drawing Faces

This time I’m trying something different; I’m focusing on drawing faces. I’m also going to challenge myself to draw with colored pencil and not graphite. This means no erasing. This is going to be tough but I think it’ll help me to better appreciate the marks I make.

I tried several colors as a replacement for the graphite in sketches above – violet, indigo, and Prussian blue (left to right). I prefer the marks made with the violet and indigo pencils. The Prussian blue goes on very strong even with the lightest pressure so I’ll take that one out of rotation.

You may have noticed I’m not concerned with using accurate skin/hair colors. It’s part of the plan to loosen up and just draw. There are no preconceived ideas in this adventure and the only rule is to keep drawing.

The outcome

I like how this first experiment turned out. I achieved my goal; I loosened up and had fun! So…be brave, pick up a colored pencil, and give drawing faces a go. The only mistake you can make is not trying.

Have a great week and keep those pencils sharp!


P.S. Need some extra encouragement? Check out the work of Jane Davenport, she’ll get you excited for drawing in no time. I’m incorporating her advice into my sketches.