Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Orchids on Stonehenge WIP

One of the reasons I created this blog was so that people who were interested in coloured pencil could get a sense of how an artist actually uses them. When I first started my art journey, I really would have appreciated an opportunity to watch over someone's shoulder as they worked. Even today I would like to hang out in another artist's studio...you can learn a lot by watching someone work. Therefore, I shall try to detail some of the steps involved in creating this new piece. Please keep in mind that this is just my way of working, there are many ways to use coloured pencils.

First of all, I am redoing the orchids (as seen in previous posts on pastel paper). This time I am using a white printmaking paper, Stonehenge brand. To start, I transferred my drawing to the Stonehenge using a lightbox. I drew on my Stonehenge using a gray Col-Erase pencil (made by Sanford). I prefer this to graphite as it is a soft pencil and therefore less likely to score the paper. It also erases beautifully. I don't mind drawing over the Col-Erase lines if I am using a dark coloured pencil. If you use a graphite pencil for your drawing make sure that you use very light pressure. Graphite seems a bit greasy and it can smear. Essentially you want the lines of the drawing to be barely visible. Once my drawing was completed I lifted off some of the excess pencil pigment with reusable adhesive.

My next step was to do the background. I chose to work on the background first as I would be building up the colours in the orchids in relation to whatever colour the background became.

Why did I create a yellowish background? First of all, I love the colour. :-) Secondly, most of my paintings have a light background and I would say that this is part of my style. Orchids are delicate looking and I like the fact that the light background doesn't overpower the flowers. Third, the blossoms will end up being various shades of violet and the background colour is opposite violet on the colour wheel. I like using complementary colours in my work.

Using Prismacolor pencils, I started the background with a layer of Cream, using a vertical stroke. I added two more layers of colour on top, Sand and Jasmine. By establishing a light coloured layer first, the following darker layers look more even. The background didn't take long. I erased any visible pencil lines outlining the blossom edges as I coloured up to them.

Next I layered in some colours for the stem and then I went to work on the darkest areas of the piece. I like to establish my darks first as again, I will colour the rest of the blossoms in relation to the depth of values I achieve here. I establish my darks by working light to dark. I took a close up photo to show you just how light I start off in the beginning. This slow build up of colour isn't necessary, it is just how I like to work. I like to gradually build up colour as this way I can change direction easily. As I have control of the developing colour, I find I don't end up having to lift colour. In the second picture, you might be able to see how light my pressure is. I don't burnish and there is still lots of tooth visible in the paper. Keep in mind that I will be adding more pencil layers so I don't want to completely fill the tooth of the paper. You can also see that I have begun to play with building up the violet colour in the petals. It doesn't look too attractive at the moment but it will get there.

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