Enjoy life now... it has an expiration date.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Fruits of our labors.... literally!

Been another busy week. July is the busiest month in summer for us.... that's when the blueberries are ripening as fast as we can pick them. Yesterday we (me and the hubby) picked berries for over three hours, then I spent another hour and a half sorting and freezing the berries. Pictured above: the yield from yesterday's pick which ended up being 13 very full quarts in the freezer. A good afternoon's work. The hubby was busy calculating how many pies you can make with that amount of blueberries... a lot!

On the art front - yes, I have been productive this week - but can't post anything! I'm doing ATC's (Artist Trading Cards or Art Trade Cards?) for a WetCanvas project but can't post them online until they've been mailed and received by the recipient. The project is called Vacation Dreams and you do cards (I'm doing 4"x6") with a theme of places you've visited or would like to visit. So far I've done Ocracoke Island (been there several times... absolutely love it) and France (on my "would love to see one day" list). It's a lot of fun and is a great opportunity to try out new techniques. I used a layering technique on the first card, and I'm using solvents for a more painterly look on the second card. Since I'm using a new medium (colored pencil) the practice is also much needed and very welcome. Will post the cards when they've arrived at their new homes.
Have a good weekend!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Swatches 2

Another little CP experiment...

I want to know what colored pencils are capable of. I also want to know, before I start on a project, how to achieve a particular effect. Hence the experiments. Yes I do plan, at some point, to produce something besides these slightly-off kilter little swatches! But when I'm working on a new piece and mentally juggling things like composition, values, color choices, etc., I don't want to have to stop and do a trial and error thing to get the look I want. So I figure the more I play with colored pencil the easier it will be when I actually begin a new piece. At least I'm hoping it will work that way. For the beginner (me!) these two swatches provide mini lessons in underpainting, burnishing with color, and using solvents.

In the dark/red square on the left I started out with a layer of Indigo Blue that faded to nothing on the right side. Then did an all over layer of Tuscan Red, followed by an all over layer of Crimson Red. Finally I burnished the whole square with Scarlet Lake. I liked the richness of the dark... and learned that in order to get really smooth color I have to have a sharp pencil that can get into the recesses of the paper (BTW - using Stonehenge).

The second square is about getting even coverage by using a solvent. Parts of the square were colored with Indigo Blue and Grass Green and spot colored with Violet. I then used a small paint brush to apply a tiny amount of Turpenoid Natural. Then another quick layer of Indigo Blue and Chartreuse here and there. I was pleased with the smooth coverage. No paper left showing through. The scan has made it look uniformly dark, but on the actual swatch there are subtle color variations. I wonder if light colors were used if you could almost get a watercolor effect? I'm not sure the Turpenoid Natural is what I need to be using. I noticed that it left a slight oily film (maybe it needs longer to dry?) that smudged if you rubbed your finger across it. But that's what's nice about doing these little experiments... the object is to learn, not to produce a beautiful work - so if it smudges it's no big deal. But it would be a big deal if I'd spent hours on a piece and then ruined it by accidental smudging. Think I'll try some other form of solvent and see if I still get a residue.

Oh, and one more thing: I read somewhere that if you want a really smooth line you can dip your pencil tip into solvent (just a slight amount) and then draw your line. It really works! Made a very smooth, even line with consistent color.

*Swatch experiments in this post, and previous post, from the very informative book, "Painting Light in Colored Pencil" by Cecile Baird.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


Left swatch is on watercolor paper. Right swatch is on Stonehenge.

Continuing with colored pencil:

I did "Watering the Flowers" on watercolor paper - mostly because I wasn't sure how it was going to turn out and I was saving my Stonehenge paper for "when I'm good" with CPs. From what I've read, CP artists use a large variety of papers and other surfaces for their art, watercolor paper included. However, a comment by a WetCanvas member encouraging me to use Stongehenge now - while I'm learning - made me curious about how much the paper affects the outcome. So I did a quick little experiment. In the two swatches above I used the same two colors with about the same pressure. Both were burnished with a colorless blender pencil. I was surprised at how much richer and smoother the coverage was on the Stonehenge compared to the watercolor - and how much easier it was to apply. Even though Stonehenge does have a little texture, it doesn't have the tiny "hills and valleys" of the watercolor (cold press). On Stonehenge the pencil glided smoothly over the surface, whereas with the watercolor paper it tended to skip over the valleys leaving tiny specks of paper showing through and making it difficult to achieve smooth even coverage. Good stuff to know- the watercolor paper might still be a good CP choice when you want an uneven texture, but for a smooth finish it's Stonehenge.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Close-to-Final Version of "Watering the Flowers"

After another busy weekend (hubby's band played so Saturday was a LATE night - then we picked and froze 15 quarts of blueberries on Sunday evening - by the time the blueberries were finished I was finished too) I managed to find a few minutes last night to do some fine tuning to "Watering the Flowers". I bought a little battery operated eraser while on a jaunt to an art store this past Friday and what a nifty little gadget this is! Does a wonderful job of removing color without damaging the paper. And, surprisingly, it only cost $6.95.... Woo Hoo!... I love a bargain!

So the eraser was put to work. I was not happy with the little guy's nose or his left facial profile. So I erased the profile line, all of the nose, part of the mouth and some shading here and there that didn't pass muster. Then I carefully redid those parts, taking extra care to note the precise angle and length of line and such things. I'm learning that for me it takes close observation then thoughtful calculation on how to achieve the look I'm after. Even then it doesn't always end up like I envision it. Guess that's one reason art is so endlessly fascinating... the challenge of getting the vision onto the paper. Anyway, I'm posting what I hope is either the final version of this piece or close to it. I'm going to let it sit for a couple of days and see if anything jumps out that needs changing. If not it will soon be on its way to its owner... who doesn't know it's coming.... it's a surprise!

While at the bookstore I also bought a new CP book and I LOVE IT! I had a coupon for 30% off so I used it on this book "Painting Light with Colored Pencil" by Cecile Baird. I had the book on my Amazon Wish List but had never looked through it so I wasn't sure how good it was (I don't think the cover painting does the book justice). Let me tell you.... it's GOOD! Her colored pencil paintings are simply awesome. Beautiful. Wow. What else can I say? And even better, her demos are to the point and very detailed. I plan to do some exercises from the book this week (and the hubby hopes that I'll find time somewhere to bake either a blueberry pie or a blueberry crisp... a reward for the hot, hard work of picking and freezing blueberries!)

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Update on "Watering the Flowers"

Finally! The child has a mouth! This has certainly been a learning process for me. I learned (after the fact) that this pose - called a 3/4 pose - is considered a difficult one. Ha! Wish I had found out earlier! But I'm still glad I attempted it. I've learned more about the level of my drawing ability (and where it needs improvement) and have thoroughly enjoyed getting better acquainted with colored pencils. To be honest, I never expected to like this medium. I had read that it was a very slow medium and thought that I would lose patience with it. It is a slow medium; but instead of losing patience I found the slower process more relaxing and almost meditative. When I'm working with paint I guess I feel more time pressure because, depending on what effect you're after, you have to keep paint drying times in mind. That doesn't mean I've abandoned watercolor - I still love it - but I think it will be nice to be able to switch between the two mediums and at some point I'll probably combine them.

I'm not sure if I'm going to put in a background or not. I'm debating. Think I'll let it sit awhile and then see how I feel about it. I do want to add some water droplets coming out of the garden hose and I've still got work to do on the flowers and greenery.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Watering the Flowers

Anyone else on a merry-go-round besides me? Phew. What a week! Besides an influx of unexpected company, the blueberries are beckoning. So far I've frozen about 15 quarts - in the next two or three weeks there will be many more quarts put into the freezer. When picking I try to think of luscious blueberry pies and sweet crunchy blueberry crisps... this keeps me going while I'm swatting insects, getting scratched by woody branches and trying to keep cool in July's steamy temps!

On the art front, I purchased a few more colored pencils and have been experimenting with them. I started a portrait (Watering the Flowers) and... it's been interesting. I'm not sure exactly what type of "look" I'm after, so I'm trying to stay open minded and just see how things turn out. I'm working on watercolor paper and don't think I like it for CPs. I'd like to try a smooth Bristol and see what kind of effects I can get with CP.

This is a WIP (Work in Progress) so it's by no means a finished product.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...