Friday, April 18, 2008

Apples on Pastelbord, Work In Progress

Here is my newest endeavour, coloured pencil of course, on gray Pastelbord. Pastelbord is made by Ampersand ( This product is a board not paper. The board or panel, is acid-free, and archival. Their packaging states that the "exquisite sanded surface" consists of a "hand applied kaolin clay ground, textured with fine marble dust granules. Holds more pastel layers than any other surface!" Of course you can use this support with many media, not just pastel. The surface is similar to the sanded surface found on pastel papers such as the Colorfix and Wallis brands.

For those of you in Canada, I haven't yet found a supplier here. After trying various Canadian on-line suppliers, I searched the Ampersand site. They do supply some products to a few stores in Canada, but not this Pastelbord (at least not according to my searching). Not to worry though, it is available from on-line suppliers in the U.S. There are several good suppliers such as Blick Art Materials ( and Cheap Joe's Art Stuff ( I like shopping from Dick Blick on line. They are a great resource for professional art materials. I appreciate the fact that they carry the Prismacolor Lightfast line of pencils in open stock. For a complete list of suppliers, try doing a google search or check out the various ads in magazines such as American Artist and The Artist's Magazine.

So, about the art...I am working on a 5" x 7" panel. One of the reasons I chose a small size is so that I could get the work completed rather quickly. I am giving a presentation in three weeks to an art group here in Ottawa. The members of the group are experienced artists. I have been advised by the event organizer that many will probably have some knowledge of the basics of working with coloured pencils. Therefore I thought I would focus part of my presentation on what isn't generally known about the medium - such as working on surfaces other than paper. So that brings me to this project, creating an piece for the 'show and tell' part of the presentation.

The first WIP picture (lower image) shows the bright underpainting that I put down. The gray surface is rather dead and dull but the wonderful thing with it is that colours seem to glow when applied. This use of an underpainting is also my approach when working on white paper. I ask myself what colours I see underneath the red of the apples and these go on first. The lower layers affect the end result because they are still visible. This is in part due to the fact that I don't burnish. This is just my style, the way I achieve the look I am after. While it takes longer than other methods of working I just love the final result. For me it is what makes coloured pencil work look so unique.

I am working top apple, left apple then the right apple. I am right handed and I don't want my hand across the work if I can help it. Working on this surface causes a fair amount of pencil pigment to flake off in the process. This method of working keeps the pigment off of my hand and prevents me from smearing the work with this excess pigment. Having said this, I still have more to do on the top and left apple. I will continue to work on them (being mindful of where my hand is resting) as I get the last apple underway.

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