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Blog Category: Artwork

“River Pebbles, No. 2”

River Pebbles, No. 2

This is the second work in a new series of small art depicting some of my favorite subjects. The purpose of this series is to produce more regularly while also working on large pieces. Working small allows me to be more experimental with the Icarus Drawing Board. With each artwork I plan to share something interesting about how I made it.

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

My Set-up

Here you can see my set-up. I like to have everything close-by; the pencil tray sits on top of my Icarus board together with the Swifter Duster and the cotton towel. Taping the paper to the glass can be very helpful especially when burnishing on the warm zone.

My TimerMy Sharpeners


This yellow timer above is my constant companion. It helps me be more productive and more aware of interruptions. Once I got used to it, starting it and stopping it have become second nature.

To the right of my drawing board I keep two sharpeners: the X-Acto School Pro is electrical and works well with different diameter pencils; the Derwent is battery operated and, even though is made for pencils, I've used it to sharpen crayons for many months with no ill effects. The two sharpeners sit inside an acrylic photo frame together with a thick, moist sponge where I clean my pencils after I sharpen them.

The video above is a slide show of River Pebbles, No. 2. Please come back for my next blog post: River Pebbles, No. 2 - A Closer Look, where I will show you a detailed step-by-step of the project.


“River Pebbles, No. 1” - A Closer Look

Last week I introduced the first finished project of my new "small art series". This week I'm giving you a closer look.

Outline - Cool Zone

The outline was accomplished with Prismacolor Premier Verithin Colored Pencils on Art Spectrum Colourfix Supertooth Board. This is a very "toothy" surface without the gritty sandpaper feel. Supertooth Boards are made by coating a 500 gms acid-free, archival watercolor paper with a clear acrylic primer mixed with a blend of silica particles.

I have several large sheets of Supertooth and I was able to easily cut one down to the size I needed with an x-acto knife. I noticed that the texture is somewhat variable from sheet to sheet. Next time I will buy the Supertooth primer instead - it's a lot less expensive and will give me more control on the final texture.

"River Pebbles, No. 1" will be mounted on a 6" x 6" Ampersand Claybord with a 2" cradle.

Color Blocking - Cool Zone

In this step I'm blocking-in the main colors of the pebbles. I'm working fairly fast on the cool zone of the Icarus board (no heat yet) and I'm using Prismacolor Premier Soft Core and Caran d'Ache Luminance colored pencils. It's not important to be precise and detailed in this phase.

Burnishing & Blending - Warm Zone

After turning on my Icarus board (maximum temperature) I'm focusing on building up enough pigment so that  the white of the paper is completely obliterated. I've learned to not be afraid of this step - I know by experience that the more pigment is on the paper, the more malleable and workable the pigment becomes.

Burnishing & Blending - Pink Pebble - Step 1 - Warm Zone

Burnishing & Blending - Pink Pebble - Step 2 - Warm Zone

Burnishing & Blending - Green Pebble - Step 1 - Warm Zone

Burnishing & Blending - Green Pebble - Step 2 - Warm Zone

Burnishing & Blending Finished

Highlights - Cool Zone

As you can see from the images above, each pebble gets one or two passages on the warm zone. Most of the times I blend the pigments together without tools - on the large areas I've used a paper stump.

In the final step I reemphasize the highlights with a white colored pencil on the cool zone.

I will be posting a slide show of this project on my Icarus Art YouTube Channel sometime next week. Please subscribe if you haven't done so already.

If you have any questions about my project, feel free to ask them on this blog or make a comment. I'm always glad to hear from you!


New Small Art Series

This is the first work in a new series of small art depicting some of my favorite subjects. The purpose of this series is to produce more regularly while also working on larger pieces. Working small allows me to be more experimental with the Icarus Drawing Board. With each artwork I plan to post something interesting about how I made it.

Coming up soon: How I developed "River Pebbles, No. 1" - Colored Pencil on 6"x 6" Colourfix Supertooth Board.


My Artwork on the New Prismacolor Set

The new set of 150 Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils has finally been released today! What's exciting about this is not only that 18 NEW colors are included in the set, but that MY ARTWORK is featured on the beautiful black box. I'm so glad I don't have to keep it a secret anymore!

Below are the images of the Prismacolor box and of my artwork "The Three Graces", known in Greek mythology as Charm, Beauty, and Creativity. The original was done on Stonehenge Paper using - what else? - Prismacolor Colored Pencils and the Icarus Drawing Board.

New Prismacolor Set

"The Three Graces"

For more information on the new set, please visit the Prismacolor Blog.


Canvas and the Icarus Board: Final Post


Below are the steps I followed to mount my artwork on canvas and varnish it.

Trimming the canvasTrimmed canvas


Left - after spraying the canvas with 5 coats of Prismacolor Final Fixative Gloss, and letting it cure overnight, I trimmed away the white boarder.

Right - the canvas is now trimmed and ready for mounting.

Mounting toolsPressing with a brayer


Left - for mounting I used Frank's PH Fabric Adhesive (purchased from my framer) and a foam roller. I apply this type of adhesive only to canvas or fabric in general. When mounting paper I prefer to use Grafix Double Tack Mounting Film (for more on this subject please visit my post on Glassless Framing).

Right - after mounting the canvas on my Ampersand Claybord with 3/4" cradle, I rolled a brayer all over the surface, paying particular attention to corners and edges.

Under books overnightTrimming the edges


Left - I then placed the canvas-mounted board upside down under heavy books overnight.

Right - in the morning I carefully trimmed the canvas around the edges of the board. I had originally extended the drawing a quarter inch all around to account for possible misalignment during mounting.

Left-over stubbleCleaned-up edges


Left - as you can see some stubble was left over after trimming.

Right - I cleaned up the fuzz with a fine grade sandpaper.

Painting the sidesPainted sides


Left - I finally began to paint the sides of the cradled board with acrylic. I applied three coats.

Right - the sides are all painted.

Varnishing toolsRaised board


Left - here's everything I used for varnishing: Golden Polymer Varnish with UVLS Gloss, a container for mixing the varnish, a small measuring cup, a wide brush for the top surface, and a smaller brush for the sides. I mixed one part water to two parts varnish.

Right - after elevating the board from the table I began varnishing the top.

Wet varnishVarnishing the sides


Left - notice how the first coat of varnish looks while still wet. I painted four coats, waiting three hours in between.

Right - I used the small brush to spread the varnish drips all over the sides. I like the sides to be as glossy as the top surface.

Varnished and framedClose-up


Left - after curing for a week, the panel was finally framed without glass.

Right - Here you can see a close-up of the frame and panel.


Why did I do all this? Well, I wanted to experiment with canvas and the Icarus board. I clearly could not have used stretched canvas and did not want to use 1/8" canvas panels. These panels are a good option for artists who work with the Icarus board. However I like my art to be mounted on panels with at least 3/4" cradle so I needed to use canvas by the yard.

The best discovery I made during this experiment is to apply one coat of Art Spectrum Colourfix Clear Primer on the acrylic painted canvas. This establishes an amazing ground for any type of drawing medium so that it can strongly adhere to the canvas. Colourfix primer can be applied directly to the canvas without an acrylic underpainting, if one chooses to do so. (edited 10/9/11)

Perhaps in the future I will experiment with artist crayons and oil pastels on canvas and the Icarus board. These mediums lend themselves to larger and looser applications.

I'm very happy with my finished artwork. Coming from an oil paint background I can tell you that it looks better than any of my old oil paintings. These were never varnished (who wants to wait six months?) and appear blotchy and uneven.

To read the two previous posts on "Canvas and the Icarus Board", please click on the following links:

Canvas and the Icarus Board
Canvas and the Icarus Board: Part 2

If you are interested in how I mount and frame my artwork on paper without glass, please click on this link:

Glassless Framing

Thank you for reading my blog! Feel free to comment or ask questions.


Canvas and the Icarus Board: Part 2


As you can see, I'm finally finished with my experiment on canvas (16'' x 24'').

It hasn't been an easy ride. While family and business obligations kept interrupting my creative process, the other reason it took me so long is that I chose a very complex subject in addition to a brand new technique.

If you need to refresh your memory, you can review the first blog post here: Canvas and the Icarus Board.

As I was layering the colored pencils on the acrylic-painted canvas, I became increasingly unsatisfied. The waxy pigment wasn't adhering nor covering as well as I had hoped. After many hours of trials and errors I finally came to an acceptable solution (see red type below).

Following are steps and suggestions:

  • Purchase acrylic gesso primed cotton canvas by the yard - tightly woven is best suited - do not use coarse textured canvas.
  • Cut a piece of canvas about an inch wider on each side than the final size.
  • Trace your drawing with colored pencils using a light box or a window.
  • Extend the drawing a quarter inch all around to account for possible misalignment during mounting.
  • Block-in the colors using acrylics - make sure to cover the whole canvas with paint.
  • With a sponge roller apply an even layer of Art Spectrum Colourfix Clear Primer. This simple step will help colored pencil adhere well to the acrylic painted canvas.
  • After the primer is completely dry (I waited 24 hours), you can begin layering your wax-based colored pencils on the Icarus Drawing Board at medium heat. High heat will help you blend large areas.
  • As a last step, clean up all your whites, edges, and details on the cool zone.

Below is a picture of all the colored pencils that I used in this project:

Colored Pencils Used

I'm planning to spray fixative, mount the canvas on a cradled board, varnish it, and frame it. I will have more images and give you my final thoughts on a third blog post.

For more on "Canvas and the Icarus Board" please click on the following links:

Canvas and the Icarus Board
Canvas and the Icarus Board: Final Post





This is not what I usually draw or paint. It's quite small (6" x 4"), it has lots of fine details, it's very photographic, it doesn't have water, reflections, distortion, flowers or pebbles, and it's not made with the Icarus Drawing Board.

So, why did I do it and what have I learned from this experience?

Well, I did it as my contribution to the Los Angeles Colored Pencil Society Chapter project. We are putting together a compilation of small drawings of common California trees for the CPSA Convention in Dallas, Texas. I chose the eucalyptus tree because it grows everywhere in my area and it has a very attractive, colorful bark.

The drawing is so small and detailed that I really couldn't use the Icarus board nor any other wax-based media besides colored pencil. What I learned from this experience is that it's good for an artist every once in a while to do something out of the norm.

  • Doing this small drawing reminded me how I really enjoy working big.
  • The Icarus board would have allowed me to accomplish a much larger version in the same amount of time, especially with the addition of artist crayon or oil pastel.
  • Photorealism is not my cup of tea.
  • I missed pushing the colors as far as I usually do.
  • I truly missed the magic of water.

I just can't wait to go back to my technique and artistic direction.

See you all in Texas in 10 days. Stop by the CPSA TRADE SHOW where I will demonstrate the Icarus Drawing Board.

Saturday, July 16, 2011 -  9:00 am - 2:00 pm
Renaissance Hotel, Richardson, Texas 75082


“Social Network”

Social Network

22" x 28" - Wax-based Media (Colored Pencil and Artist Crayon)
Created with the Icarus Drawing Board.

I finished this piece just in time to enter it into the 19th Annual CPSA Juried Exhibition. There's something about this group of pebbles, linked together by water, that reminded me how we are all connected, socially and otherwise.

This year the Colored Pencil Society Convention will be in Dallas, Texas. I will be demonstrating the Icarus board at the CPSA trade show Saturday, July 16, from 9:00 to 2:00.

I have a short demonstration coming up on Saturday, April 30th, in conjunction with the Los Angeles CPSA district chapter meeting. Click this link for directions.