Tuesday, November 25, 2008

coloured pencil portrait WIP continues...

Melissa's Portrait work in progress
coloured pencil on Stonehenge
copyright Teresa Mallen

Here is how the portrait looks now. Things are moving rather slowly as I haven't spent much time on it. I was teaching Saturday, my portrait course :-) and I spent the rest of the weekend visiting the wonderful artists on the Red Trillium Studio Tour. I wasn't on the tour this time so it was a great opportunity to drive around and see the fantastic art. The terrific news is that the tour was very well attended and sales were good as well. This was somewhat surprising given the doom and gloom in the media regarding the economy. At least the price of gas has come down!

I did have an adventure with Melissa's portrait. While my work tends to look realistic, I do like to stylize my work somewhat. What that translates to is that I tend to create skin tones that are lighter in value than real skin. I also like to edit out some things that are linear in the face, such as smile crinkles at the corner of the eyes - I suggest them with some soft lines and value changes. I also like to edit out light moles and freckles. If a subject had a significant mole or lots of freckles I would include them as this would add character. Melissa has a couple of very small moles. At first I thought I would include them. After putting them in, I found I didn't like the overall effect. They seemed to grab your attention and in real life they don't. My adventure began...

I tried to lift the pigment. It worked somewhat. The final colour in the mole spot was going to be very light so I needed to remove all of the colour. I reached for my electric eraser. I hardly ever use it but I find it can be useful to get the last bit of pigment off if lifting doesn't work. I touched the eraser down, and hit the power button. Just as I did, I remembered that I hadn't checked to see if the tip of the eraser was clean. I lifted the eraser off of the paper but oops not before the eraser had transferred bright red pigment to my paper. Now I didn't have a very faint mole to deal with but a dollop of scarlet pigment ground into the paper. Great.

Plan B...bleach the colour. I haven't had to use this method before but these were desperate times. I had heard of an artist that had a tiny bug crawl onto her paper. The next morning, she whisked the bug off only to discover that it had left a small stain on her paper. Erasing and lifting didn't work. Whatever body fluids the tiny bug had left behind had been absorbed by the paper, creating a permanent stain. She finally tried applying bleach and it worked. So that is what I tried. I poured out a bit of bleach onto a styrofoam plate. Using the small end of a tooth pick, I dropped a tiny bit of bleach directly onto the scarlet stain. I waited a few seconds and then dabbed the spot with a tissue. It seemed to work a bit. I repeated the process. It took a few applications but the stain did disappear. The texture of the paper is fine too. I share this story in case you ever get in a similar situation. My advice is to be very careful - use a teeny tiny bit of bleach - you don't want to soak your paper. I let the paper dry. I have now coloured over the spot and you can't tell where it was. Whew! Actually, lets back things up...my advice is to check the tip of your eraser before you hit the on button!

This WIP may take awhile. My husband and I are on vacation this week, yippee! We can't remember when our last holiday was. My time away from work has been consumed with dealing with my Dad's illness and death as well as moving last year...so this week we rest, recover and play...


Jeanette said...

The portrait is stunning and not a mishap in sight. Funny how these things always do happen when we least want them to.

Enjoy your vacation. Drawing will wait.

Teresa Mallen said...

Thank you Jeanette. Yup, good ol' household bleach to the rescue. Thank goodness I was working on white paper!

Paula Pertile said...

Well its looking great so far, and I'm so glad the bleach worked! Its scary, isn't it?
I also have to remember to wipe the tip of my pencil right after I've sharpened it because it often picks up whatever color was last sharpened. And it does the same thing as the eraser!

Hope you're having fun on vacation.