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You Ask, I Answer

Questions from Nannette: "I'd like to know how you begin. Do you grid? Do you use graphite? Do you use photos to work from - and if so do you take them yourself? What other subjects do you enjoy besides pebbles? Is there something you really don't like to draw?"

I take my own photo references since my creative process is deeply entwined with the subjects I study and - dare I say - even obsess over. Photos are secondary to my vision and I always seek to recreate those images that are already in my mind. I rarely get a perfect picture! I'm not a great photographer but I compensate by taking hundreds of shots. Below are examples of experimentation with pebbles and ice that I did at home.

Experimenting with Pebbles and IceMore Experimenting


I usually work on the composition in Photoshop from one or several images. Then I trace a rough outline directly from the computer monitor onto a sheet of tracing paper using a soft graphite pencil and a very light touch. Sometimes I free-hand the outline, depending on the complexity (I don't grid anymore but I used to). Finally I scan the pencil drawing and enlarge it with this program: PosteRazor: Make your own poster!

After printing out the enlargement and taping the individual sheets together, I trace the drawing onto the final paper. In the picture below you can see me tracing over a sheet of glass. At this stage I use Verithin colored pencils in the local colors of the drawing because I don't like to erase graphite.

Improvised Light Box

Whenever possible I prefer to work directly from the computer monitor versus a printed photo. It gives me more freedom during the "painting" phase. I can adjust colors and values, enlarge details, lighten dark areas, not to mention the saving in printer ink and photo paper.

Work Station

In the past I've explored various subjects and techniques, however in the last several years I've been focused on flowers and rocks and their interaction with water. I study them above water, below, and in-between, and observe how their visual characteristics change and relate to each other.

In general I don't enjoy drawing man-made things like buildings, cities, cars, or mechanical objects.

Thank you Nannette for asking these questions. It gave me an opportunity to share my thoughts and process with other artists.

More "You ask, I Answer" posts coming up in the near future. Look for a post on "burnishing" and another on "how I make my pebbles shine".

If you have questions that relate to my art and especially my process and technique, please feel free to ask them in a comment.


“River Pebbles, No. 3 - Melting Artist Crayons”

Title: River Pebbles, No. 3

Outline - Cool Zone

The outline was accomplished with Verithin Colored Pencils on the cool zone of the Icarus Drawing Board.

Color Mapping with Artist Crayons - Cool Zone

For more on color mapping with artist crayons you can view the following videos:

Detail View of Color Mapping

Here you can see the pigment density needed to achieve complete paper coverage after melting.

Melting Artist Crayons - Warm Zone

With temperature setting at maximum, I begin melting the artist crayons with a clay shaper (or color shaper).

For more on melting artist crayons you can view the following videos:

Melting Completed

Artist crayons save me a lot of time. After they are melted, the paper becomes completely saturated with vibrant colors. The waxy pigments make an ideal substrate for layering colored pencils on top.

Finished Artwork

With temperature setting at medium, I finally layer and blend colored pencils to develop colors, values and details.

You can see a slideshow of this project on the following blog post: Slideshow of "River Pebbles, No. 3".


“River Pebbles, No. 3”

River Pebbles, No. 3

Title: River Pebbles, No. 3

In my follow-up post of River Pebbles, No. 3, I will show you how I used Neocolor Artist Crayons with heat.


Published in “CP Treasures” Book

My artwork Social Network was chosen to be featured in Ann Kullberg's book CP Treasures. This book is described as "a new collection chronicling the amazing colored pencil work being created at this moment across the world.  It showcases over 70 stunning pieces from artists in 11 countries with a wide array of styles, surfaces and techniques."  If you click the link above, you can preview the book (my artwork is on page 55).

Social Network


Icarus Drawing Board: Review and Newsletter

Colored Pencil Society of Canada

Artist Erica Walker, secretary and treasurer of the Colored Pencil Society of Canada, wrote an excellent review of the Icarus Drawing Board titled "First Impressions of the Icarus Drawing Board". Here are the links to the English version and to the French version.

The Icarus Art February 2012 Newsletter was sent out yesterday. If you'd like to register for the newsletter, you can go to the homepage of Icarus Art and click the sign-up button on the top right corner.


CPSA “Explore This! 8” Award

Explore This! 8

I'm thrilled to announce that my artwork River Odyssey received the The CPSA District Chapters Award for Outstanding Recognition in "Explore This! 8", the Colored Pencil Society of America's online exhibition. Please visit the exhibition to view all the outstanding art selected by juror Jane Allen Nodine to be on display for a full year on the CPSA website. Click here to see the award winners.

This is my third acceptance into a CPSA "Explore This!" exhibition which qualified me to receive my CPX Signature Membership. I'm very honored to have earned my second signature status from the Colored Pencil Society of America.

River Odyssey


“River Pebbles, No. 2” - A Closer Look

This is a closer look at my second work in a new series of small art depicting some of my favorite subjects.

Title: River Pebbles, No. 2
Size: 5" x 5"
Medium:  Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencil (Verithin and Softcore) and Caran d'Ache Luminance Colored Pencil
Miscellaneous: Lyra Splender Colorless Blender, Gray Paper Stumps
Surface: Stonehenge Paper
Technique: Icarus Drawing Board

River Pebbles, No. 2 is mounted on a 5" x 5" Ampersand Claybord with a 2" cradle. If you are interested in learning how I mount and varnish my artwork, you can read the following post: Glassless Framing.

Outline - Cool Zone

I always use Prismacolor Verithin to draw the outline of my subjects. It's important for me not to add too many details at this point, only the principal lines.

I prefer the back side of Stonehenge paper because it has a little more tooth than the front. That little tooth makes a big difference in how pigments layer, mix and blend, especially on the warm zone. A paper surface that doesn't have much texture is difficult to handle with heat.

Color Mapping - Cool Zone

Color mapping on this paper is a little more time consuming than on a sanded pastel paper. I apply my Prismacolor Softcore and/or Caran d'Ache Luminance with medium pressure on the cool zone until 80-90% of the surface is covered with waxy pigment.

Burnishing and Blending - Warm Zone

Listed below are the main steps I follow to develop the colors and values on the warm zone (high temperature):

  • Burnishing: I saturate the paper with pigment until the white of the paper is completely obliterated (I even burnish white colored pencil over the white areas).
  • Layering: I layer the colors by using the side of the pencil.
  • Blending: when called for, I blend the base and top color together with a paper stump.

Burnishing and Blending - Warm Zone

I continue in the same manner as in the previous step until the whole drawing is completely burnished.

Refining and Polishing - Warm and Cool Zones

I'm adding more details to my drawing. I use the warm zone (medium to low temperature) to blend some of those details into the background, the cool zone to refine and polish with a colorless blender.

Refining and Polishing - Warm and Cool Zones

I continue in the same manner as in the previous step until the whole drawing is finished.

I need your feedback:

With my next small artwork I'm planning to start focusing on specific issues.

Do you have any suggestions? Are there any topics relating to my technique and my art that you would like me to address?

For example, Jill asked me to explain how I make my pebbles shine.

I'd love to get your input.