I worked on a drafting table but I put the piece on an easel to make it easier to photograph. It was also nice to get a vertical view every once in a while. Due to the size of the paper, I worked half of the time with the piece upside down on my table. This was so my arm wouldn't have to rest on the paper. I modified the drawing wherever I thought it was required as I went along.
The following picture shows the piece after more colour had been applied. I used Prismacolor and Derwent Coloursoft pencils. Some artists find the Prismacolor Lightfast line of pencils to be a bit dryer than the Premier line. I like the Lightfast pencils and any extra dryness works well on this sanded paper. I really like the Coloursoft pencils on the pastel paper. I also like that you can obtain lightfast rating information for each pencil from their website.
The next photo shows the work after I had worked it up to a more orangy red stage. At this point I taped the paper to my white board stand (used for teaching). I needed to work standing up so I could step back often to see how things were developing. Again, due to the size of the piece, I couldn't get a sense of the overall work without frequently backing away from it. As I looked over the piece I was checking to see if something was sticking out that shouldn't be, did something look weird, was there an undeveloped area, did an area bug me for some reason, how did my eyes travel over the image. I looked for lifeless spots, I checked the composition of the piece and I examined the relationships amongst the colours.
Taped to the right hand side of my sheet of art paper, you can see my reference photo that I printed out to use as a guide. It isn't a great photo (I just printed it off on some regular printer paper and the image was blurry due to the enlargement) but it was sufficient for me to grasp the direction I wanted to go in with this piece. I found it helpful to study the character of cellophane, that is I got familiar with how cellophane crinkles and folds and how it captures and reflects light. This was very useful information when it came time to suggest this in my art.
Here is the finished piece! I have entitled it: Cellophane Symphony. Please keep in mind that my goal was not to render a realistic image of cellophane, rather I wanted to use colour, line and form to create an abstraction of cellophane. For some reason, when I look at the piece, I think it depicts what sound looks like (gosh it is hard to describe this sort of stuff in words). Specifically, when I look upon the art, I make a mental connection with the sounds that an orchestra makes and as I listen to a lot of classical music while I work it seems appropriate for this to be a Symphony.
Cellophane Symphony, coloured pencil on Colourfix paper, 23" x 14" (58cm x 36cm)
Copyright Teresa Mallen
I know that this compressed image leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to getting the full effect of the piece. Here is a larger image of a small section of the work.
I like how coloured pencils can yield pigment rich paintings like the one above and yet also execute a soft image like my rose below.
Copyright Teresa Mallen
So what about my original flame idea? Well, I enjoyed working on this cellophane piece so much that I intend to return to those flame reference photos for future work. I had no idea I would like working with such a subject. I guess it is because I enjoy patterns and shapes. Normally I am drawn to the patterns and shapes of nature - the lines and patterns found in wood, acorn caps, snake skins, etc. Working on a human made, plastic subject is the opposite of what usually interests me. I did find the cellophane quite beautiful, especially as it looked in some of my photo set ups. Often cellophane is overlooked as just the packaging around a gift. Making it the inspiration for a fine art piece seems like a sort of redemption.
Next up is a piece inspired by blood and veins...nothing gory though, I promise.
P.S. As Cellophane Symphony is a piece that I will probably be entering in an exhibition or two, please refrain from leaving comments that are of a critical nature (for example: suggestions on how you think it might be improved). Work entered into shows should be solely the work of the artist. While this piece is finished and I would not change it on anyone's advice, I still wish to be clear about this. Having said that, should you wish to comment that you think the piece is fabulous (without any helpful suggestions), I am sure that wouldn't be breaking any rules. :-)