Wednesday, February 18, 2009

New Coloured Pencil WIP...

Ah, making decisions and planning. This what I have been doing for several days. I was ready to start a new work and I had in mind that I would do a snowy image. I had several photos that were inspiring me. The one above is an example of what I was looking at. After scanning the photos (they were taken years ago with a film camera) and playing with them on the computer I found that I just wasn't moved to go any further.

What to do now? I got out my boxes of pictures and my CDs of digital images and I spent hours looking at the photos. At the same time, I was pondering the issue of colour. I mulled over concepts like temperature, intensity, hue and value. I refreshed my art history knowledge by going over the stylistic changes during the periods of Fauvism, Expressionism, Modernism and so on. I found that this reviewing of photos and reviewing art history was taking not just hours but days.

What evolved from this thinking and exploring was a desire to try to control the process more in my next work. Having just finished my funky chard piece, I was keen to work on another large image, again on a sanded coloured paper. When I worked on that piece, the colours in the chard just happened. For the most part I just flowed along with the direction the work seemed to be going in and I am happy with the way it turned out. But, for a change of pace, I started to think, what if I controlled the process this time?

I found myself interested in doing a botanical piece, specifically leaves and I went back over all of my photos, seeking an image that struck me as doable. That is where the next photo comes in.

Notice the yummy leaves on this wildflower? So what if I isolated these leaves? What if I played with them by rotating, flipping and reversing them? Here is a version that I ended up with that I really like.

Voila, a new reference image was born! Next, I became excited to apply some of my recent thoughts on colour. I had been thinking of doing a piece in which I eliminated (or at least downplayed) the light source - one of the stylistic outcomes of Modernism. Maybe, this piece was the one. And how about restricting my palette and controlling the colour but with a twist, this time not being at all true to the colours represented in the actual subject?

See where all those hours of pondering started to lead me? I love it!! Okay, so here is where I am at now...I have my subject. I have stared at it and stared at it. My imagination started to see the leaves as similar to leaves in ponds (think water lilies)...from here, I started to think of these leaves as being from some sort of underwater world. Using this concept, what colour would I make the leaves? I got out my pencils and played with combinations. Here is what I have come up with so far: the outside of leaves are to be a sort of light greenish blue, the inside of the leaves a coral colour, the background dark teal. Keeping in mind my desire to eliminate a light source, (which sort of goes with an underwater world idea) I will be ignoring the shadows indicated in the photo.

Please note that I am not attempting to have this look like it is an underwater picture. I am not going for realism here. The leaves should look like leaf shapes and the rest of the piece will be an abstraction from reality - like the Swiss Chard Mosaic piece.

So finally, after days of planning, I have a drawing started as well as some initial colouring done. As you can see from the photo, I am using green paper (sort of an olive green), and it is a sanded surface. Colourfix is the paper's brand name. Right now the image is approximately 22" x 16". I still have to decide what to draw into the negative space in the background.

As you can also see, I am using my laptop again (perched on my drafting table) for this piece. It allows me to zoom into the scanned image so that I can see it better.

My challenge in this piece will be to not draw the colours that I see before me. I have experimented on the coloured paper with my pencils to determine how I will create the coral shades and the teal etc. These pencils now make up my restricted palette.

The chard and now this piece seem to require more energetic music than I normally listen to. I have raided my husband's CD collection and the rock and roll is definitely doing the trick. I even ventured into some pop this afternoon and worked standing (so I could dance about while I worked). A very fun day in the studio, I must confess! :-)

And if all this wasn't enough to get excited about, today President Obama was in Ottawa. Needless to say, folks here are delighted and pleased as punch - not to mentioned honoured.

All in all, this piece has already involved quite a bit of thought and planning. I have loved every minute of it and I look forward to seeing how it all impacts the final work. So what about you, do you do a fair bit of planning or does your work just happen?

Finally, my blog headline says: add beauty to your life. Well my husband added much beauty to my week as he gave me several bunches of tulips for Valentine's Day. They are all over the house and of course I had to take several photos. I am very blessed.


Laura said...

Great post Teresa:) I loved reading how you came to doing your latest piece and the thought process behind it. Often this stage takes longer than the actual drawing.

I'm envious of your photoshop skills and being able to manipulate photos like this - it's something I HAVE to learn to do as I've been thinking about it long enough. I look forward to seeing how this drawing develops.

Teresa Mallen said...

Thanks Laura. Yes the planning can take quite a while. I once read about a painter who would take several days to plan a work and then he would paint the entire piece in an hour. Of course he wasn't working in coloured pencil! :-)

And goodness, don't envy my photoshop skills, I have very few of those. I just do a few basic things. I too have it on my to do list. I think I need a Photoshoping for Dummies Book - one no doubt exists!