‘Serenity’ is my latest coloured pencil painting and is of a Maiko I was fortunate to meet whilst in Japan last year.
Throughout Japan I had lots of opportunity to see people, men, women and children in traditional costume and to take photographs but it was in Kyoto that I had the pleasure of meeting the Maiko who became the subject of ‘Serenity’.
A Maiko is a young woman who is training to be a Geisha, a journey which is both long and gruelling. As part of their training Maiko learn to become accomplished musicians, singers, dancers and conversationalists. When travelling in a group, as I was, it is sometimes possible to attend as dinner where a Maiko performs for the group, otherwise attendance at such a performance would be by invitation only.
The Maiko who performed for us was very young, graceful and unusually happy to talk with us, answering our questions and allowing us to take photographs. Many such photographs are carefully posed, with hands and head held in specific positions but with such amazing access it was possible to catch off guard moments too. It was such photographs that I chose to use for this work.
Having met the Maiko it was important for me not just to capture her likeness but something of her essence, the way she held herself and the sense of peace she carried with her.
The following work in progress pictures show how the image came to life, as usual by slowly building up layers of colour to create depth and texture. Clicking on the photos will bring up larger images.
I hadn’t anticipated how difficult it would be to introduce some new coloured pencils in to the mix. After all I had worked reasonably successfully with two different types, mixed oil and wax based ones and managed to blend them with a Derwent blender as well as simply by using the pencils themselves. I had worked on several different types of paper, adapted and not run into problems so why now?
I’d like to be able to answer that but really I have no idea. Nor do I have any idea why having reverted to using Bristol Board, which has been my go to paper recently, and having decided to stick to just the Luminance pencils I should find myself picking up a Polychromos pencil and then working quite happily with both types with none of the previous problems.
Looking back at the last couple of days I have worked, I wish now I had paid more attention to what I was doing. I do think though that, as far as I can recall, I have mainly used Polychromos on top of Luminance. Whatever I I have been doing though it seems to have worked and not a solvent or blender in sight 🙂
From now on I will try and be more aware of how I am working to see if I can shed some light on this, both for my own satisfaction and also to help anyone else in the same position.
This though is my progress so far, not as clear as it might be as it was taken with my phone and then cropped. I will try and do better next time 🙂
My newest piece of art is of a young boy I saw while on holiday in Japan and gives me chance to try out my newly purchased Caran D’Ache Luminance pencils.
It took me a long time to convince myself to buy these pencils as they are the most expensive artists coloured pencils manufactured at present. They are wax, like my Derwent Coloursoft but seem harder, and softer and quite different from my oil Faber Castell Polychromos. Between the three sets I have a range of colours and consistency of leads. My challenge now is to find a way to make all these pencils work together.
I started this WIP on a Pastelmat paper that I had never used before. New pencils and new paper are not a good idea! I gave up and reverted to some Bockingford HP which I have used many times but I managed to damage the surface of the paper. My go to paper for recent work has been smooth Bristol Board and this became the support for my third attempt.
I decided I would only work with Luminance so that I could get to know them a little. I quickly discovered I needed to use my Polychromos for the detail, i.e. eyes, mouth and ears and also to bring in a slightly deeper strength of colour in places. I was relieved as I did this, to discover first hand what I had perviously heard, that Luminance and Polychromos can be used together 🙂
At the moment I am working on building up skin tones, trying to hang on to the translucence and smoothness of blemish free young skin as I do.