Monthly Archives: October 2015

Colored Pencil Elephant

Colored Pencil ElephantI am so excited, this week is the beginning of my Drawing Animals class. Our first project is going to be a colored pencil elephant. We’ll be learning techniques for drawing wrinkles and reviewing value. Value (the lightness or darkness of a color) is the key to making any subject appear dimensional.

The inner most part of a wrinkle is very dark but as we get further away the skin begins to lighten and then gradually darkens to a middle tone (in between light and dark) on the other side. It takes some practice but if start by shading a circle into a sphere you will begin to develop your eye for seeing values.

You can use the techniques for drawing wrinkles on more than a colored pencil elephant. You can apply it to drawing the folds in clothing, drawing other animals (e.g. rhino, hippo, Chinese Shar-Pei, turtles, etc.), and even the wrinkles in a person’s skin. I hope you’ll give it a try.

Until next time…keep those pencils sharp!


Courtyard Cafe

Courtyard CafeThis week is our last watercolor pencil class and I thought it would be fun to draw a courtyard cafe scene. This painting is inspired by a photo of a European cafe.

Whenever I draw or paint from a reference photo I like to make adjustments to it. I remove features that may be distracting or crop it to enhance the composition. For this painting I darkened the sky and removed the other buildings. I enlarged the shrubbery on the right to create a more intimate view and I added a trailing rose vine to the old wall brick wall.

I used a number of techniques in my drawing – cloud making, sponging, adding dry pencil to wet paper, and wiping the brush on the pencil and washing the color onto the paper. It was a fun way to bring together everything we learned in class. I am looking forward to seeing what everyone creates.

Beginning in November our next class will focus on drawing animals in colored pencil. I hope you can join us!

Until next time…keep those pencils sharp!


Looking for original artwork?

The Courtyard Cafe and many other drawings, paintings and greeting cards are available from my art shop.

Pride of Lions

Lion - Realistic Lion - Pride of Lions by Kelli McNicholsFor our next watercolor pencil class we will be drawing and painting animals. Our subject will be the majestic lion (Panthera leo). Since there are so many ways to paint them I created my own pride of lions for our class demonstration. One was painted in a traditional earth-toned color scheme and the second in a more abstract manner.

The first lion was painted using a range of yellow ochres, browns, and sepia to give it a realistic appearance. The initial layers were painted with washes of color but as I progressed with adding more details I used a drier brush so that more of the pencil marks remained to create individual sections of fur.

Orange Lion - Abstract - Pride of LionsThe abstract lion was painted with yellow, orange, and orange-red. After layering the colors I spritzed clean water onto the drawing and tilted the paper to let the color blend and run. While the paper was still wet I added pigment to my brush and washed the color onto the paper to create depth and intensify the color. In a few spots I added the pencil directly to the wet paper to create thinner lines of color. For the nose, corner of the eyes, and ear I used my sepia pencil. I like using sepia rather than black because I think it complements the brighter colors better.

Now it’s your turn, paint a lion or maybe your own pride of lions and let me know how you did. You can leave a commment below or send me a message.

You can also purchase these lions paintings from my art shop.

Until next time…keep those pencils sharp!


Painting Autumn Leaves and Trees

Red Oak Leaf and Acorn - Painting Autumn Leaves and TreesThis week’s watercolor pencil class focuses on painting autumn leaves and trees. With all of the beautiful colors on display it is the perfect time to practice color mixing (and learning ways to prevent mud when red and green mix).

I first apply a base of dry color then I use my wet brush to soften them into a wash. If I have red and green next to each other I am careful to rinse my brush often so that I don’t mix the colors too much and create brown (otherwise referred to as “mud”). Some brown is actually good on a turning leaf especially if the tips of the leaves are drying out or if there are holes from an insect having a snack. It’s fairly easy to tell when mud happens, the colors look dull and lose their transparency.

In the fall the acorns can come loose from their caps easily so my branch that had 2 lost one by the time I got home. I think it was a good thing since it gave me the opportunity to study the interior of the cap.

Japanese Maple - Painting Autumn Leaves and TreesThe other painting is my interpretation of the Japanese maple that grows in my front yard. Because I want to show the overall shape and color of the tree I did not focus on painting each individual leaf. I used a damp sponge and a dabbing motion to create the leaf texture. The sponge leaves areas of white paper showing so it gives little spots to have branches poking through the leaves.

Both of these paintings are available for purchase from my art shop.

Until next time… keep those pencils sharp!