The last two pieces I have worked on have involved fabric. The next piece I do I am hoping to take a break from it although as I have so many lovely photos from our last trip which was to Japan, many of which involve kimonos that might be easier said than done.
Having said that I have learnt so much about making fabric look like fabric that it has all been good practice. For me the secret has been not to look just at the colour but at the flow of the fabric, the lines that it takes and to make my strokes follow them. Now I am writing about it I realise that it is a bit like doing animal fur, making the lines follow the direction that something lies in rather than doing mown thing.
It’s not finished yet, it’s still a work in progress but I am getting there 🙂
I always like to see how a piece of work develops over time especially with coloured pencil paintings. I think we all go though the stage of thinking the work is ugly and that it’s probably not working only for it then to begin to take shape and become something reasonable (most of us amateur artists would never use the work ‘good’ about our work). This is one of the reasons that I take photos each time I stop working on a piece. Plus it is also always good to look back and see exactly how a piece has taken shape.
The other reason I take photos is that it is only by looking at a photo that I can really see what is wrong with a piece and what is working. All too often I fail to see something when working on top of it, only to see it clearly in a photo. Others use a mirror or turn a piece upside down, me, I take photos.
The light in some of these is not particularly good as they were taken with my phone due to a broken iPad and a flat camera battery but they serve the purpose for me anyway and provide a record of how the piece has grown so far.
My struggle the last couple of weeks has been not to use one or the other but to work out how Luminance and Polychromos work together and to understand the similarities and differences.
Before I purchased Luminance pencils I sought information online from others who used them. Apart from one person who sold theirs on because they couldn’t get on with them, everyone else seemed to love them. I read reviews as well as comparisons but really the only way is to try them for yourself.
If I had made my mind up last week I’d have been all set to box them back up but two weeks in I am beginning to appreciate Luminance. They are though very different to Polychromos and its taken me this long to work out why, apart from one being wax and the other oil that is.
Where Polychromos are translucent, like to be layered gently, building up the colour to something vibrant and glowing, Luminance are opaque, soft, mute almost and don’t like being layered as much. When you use a light coloured Polychromos over other Polys it blends, when you do the same with a light colour Luminance it can blend but equally it can shift the lower layers around, I’ve yet to find the tipping point but I am sure I will.
Last blog post I thought I’d been using Polys on top of Luminance but this time I tried on top, underneath and in the middle. Effects are different but they work all ways now I understand them a bit more 🙂
This is still a WIP but with every little bit I do, as with everything, I am learning a little more.
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.
It’s some time since I posted any updates of my latest work in progress but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been working. I’ve been busy developing and building up the layers to make the work come to life. I’ve still some way to go but thought I’d share the stages that have got me as far as I presently am.
I hope that if anyone reading this is just starting out with coloured pencils these images will give them some idea of how much layering is needed at every stage. I know I certainly didn’t appreciate this when I began using the medium.
An actual photo taken in daylight 🙂
Whilst today is dark and dreary again and even with my daylight lamp I have given up working, the other day it was sunny and light so I managed to take a photo in better light conditions.
The Banyan Tree is now completely finished and I am moving on to the trees on the right hand side which will then give me a framework within which to work on the background before tackling the two figures which are really the focus of the piece.
Whilst working on this I have been converting some new pencils. I don’t need any but like most artists I love new tools of any kind and pencils are no different.
Prismacolours are the most affordable and have such lovely colours but I do know they are prone to breaking and can cause problems. Luminance are so expensive and far fewer in number but do have such a good reputation although I did hear of someone who sold hers as she couldn’t get on with them.
If I did buy any more I would really need to think about storage. If I did this then I would probably need to see about setting up a proper work space rather than working on my lap in the conservatory where I have light, warmth and often company, a place and way of working that suits me. So for now I’m sticking with what I’ve got….today at least 🙂
Hope this is in focus enough to make out. I really should take photos while there is daylight rather than when the light is going. Its not that it’s particularly dark today but dusk comes quicker and earlier than I anticipate especially when the day has been reasonably light for a change.
Anyway, today has been about working on the Bayan Tree, bringing some deeper areas behind what was there and deepening the layers on some of the tree. Its amazing how I can think I’ve finished an area only to realise there are more layers to go still. It makes me realise how much more work I could have done on some of my earlier pieces of CP work. Still that’s what its all about isn’t it….working….practicing….learning…..developing….. and hopefully improving.
You may also be able to make out a few paler areas to the right where I have started to lay in some of the other trees and leaves a little more. When I have finished the Bayan Tree this is where I am going next.
The colours look a little different today as this was taken in the dying daylight rather than under a daylight lamp. I hope its clear enough to make out and isn’t too dark but I wanted to show what the early layers looked like having mentioned it in my last post.
Sometimes this is referred to as underpainting which is a bit misleading really. For me underpainting is what I do when I am using watercolour pencils or watercolour paint to cover the white paper before laying down colour with the coloured pencils. The reason for doing this is because it then takes less coloured pencil to build up the depth of colour afterwards. I sometimes do this if I know I want to leave some watercolour as it is and bring some areas to the fore by overlaying with coloured pencil. Otherwise for me it is just part of the technique of coloured pencil, that of laying down layer upon layer to bring depth of colour to a piece of work.
Anyway, if you look at the picture you can see some leaves that are finished or almost finished and some that have only two or three layers of colour and which look really pale. I have done the same for some of the trees.
I don’t usually work this way as I prefer to complete a section before moving on but in this piece I need to lay in some areas i.e. the leaves and trees so I can see where I am going with the background.
A chilly, wet, miserable day so I set up my daylight lamp and continued working slowly on the piece of work I mentioned yesterday.
I’m reaching a point where I had something to share and knowing how much I enjoy seeing how other people work am happy to post something that has the under layers showing in some areas. I think it always helps to see how much of a mess someone else’s work looks, that way I don’t feel as bad when mine is at that stage 🙂
I have no title for this yet but it is the final piece for my London Art College Coloured Pencil Certificate, the brief for which is ‘people in a scene’. Hopefully you will see the people start to unfold in time.
I am adding two photos, yesterday’s and today’s you can see how much (little) work I managed to get done in about three hours.
Please excuse the photos, a dark day and an LED lamp are not the best combination at all.