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Blog Category: Colored Pencil

Step 1- Before Varnishing

I've finally finished my 40" x 60" piece and now I'm preparing the surface for varnishing.

Step 1: I begin by going over the highlights that lost their brightness with a white Neocolor. I will then examine every single square inch of canvas (in this case 2,400 sq inches) with my strongest magnifiers. If you work with colored pencils and wax pastels like Neocolors, you know how easily tiny debris of pigment can become embedded in the surface. The goal is to lightly scrape off the debris and the occasional cat hair using a small X-ACTO knife. This takes some patience of course but it's a worthwhile effort; it's very disappointing to notice debris after varnishing because, at that point, there's nothing one can do. 

I will post five more steps to explore and update the intricacies of my method of glassless framing. After more than 10 years of experience with this method I have developed a reliable technique that I'm always happy to share. 

Step 2: sealing the artwork to create a separation layer before the final varnish

Step 3: mounting the artwork on a panel

Step 4: having the artwork professionally photographed

Step 5: applying the final varnish

Step 6: framing the artwork

 

Almost There

This piece was definitely a challenge due to its size and complexity. So many times I wanted to give up! Over the last few years I put it aside for other artworks; I took several long breaks but always went back to it.

A method that helped me persevere was to concentrate only on a small section at a time, sometimes just a single pebble. I imagined that pebble to be like a small painting so I could feel a sense of accomplishment when it was finished. I then pretended to start a brand new painting with the next pebble. I also never compared how much I had accomplished with how much more I had left to do.

Now I can see the finish line and I’m so proud of myself.

Here is a quote that inspired and comforted me throughout the long process:
“Small steps may appear unimpressive, but don't be deceived. They are the means by which perspectives are subtly altered, mountains are gradually scaled, and lives are drastically changed.” ― Richelle E. Goodrich

Size: 40" x 60"
Medium: Prismacolor and Luminance colored pencil, Neocolor artist crayon
Surface: extra fine texture canvas primed with Art Spectrum Colourfix primer

How I prime canvas: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nc-I9wz10dI
Development of one pebble: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HczdXkNlzg0
Technique: Icarus Painting Board

 

My Largest Work in Progress

This is a progress photo of my 40” x 60” canvas in colored pencil, artist crayon/wax pastel and a little acrylic. I started this work several years ago but I had to put it aside for other projects. I was finally able to resume it recently. As you can see, I’ve completed a little less than 2/3.

This piece is definitely a challenge due to its size and complexity. I concentrate on one pebble at the time and try not to look at how much is left to do, not an easy task. A friend of mine posted this comment on Facebook: “Oh wow! Now that's what I call dedication!” My reply was: “Dedication and insanity, I need them both.”

Size: 40" x 60"
Medium: Prismacolor and Luminance colored pencil, Neocolor artist crayon/wax pastel and a little acrylic
Tools: tortillions, paper stumps, color shapers
Surface: extra fine texture canvas primed with Art Spectrum Colourfix primer
How I prime canvas for drawing media: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nc-I9wz10dI
Development of one pebble: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HczdXkNlzg0
Technique: Icarus Painting Board

 

“Pebbles from Heaven, No. 3”

Title: "Pebbles from Heaven, No. 3"
Size: 16" x 16"
Outside frame size: ​23" x 23"
Medium: colored pencils, wax pastels and oil pastels
Surface: Art Spectrum Colourfix Supertooth board
Technique: Icarus Painting Board

Original available here. 25% of the proceeds will be donated to Caterina's Club, a charity that provides free, warm, nutritional meals to underprivileged children in Orange County.

Giclees available here

More information on my "Pebbles from Heaven" series on this blog post.

 

“Pebbles from Heaven, No. 2”

Title: "Pebbles from Heaven, No. 2"
Size: 22" x 22"
Medium: colored pencils and wax pastels
Surface: Art Spectrum Colourfix Supertooth board
TechniqueIcarus Painting Board

Original sold. Giclees available here

25% of the proceeds was donated to Caterina's Club, a charity that provides free, warm, nutritional meals to underprivileged children in Orange County. 

More information on my "Pebbles from Heaven" series on this blog post.

 

Acrylic and Colored Pencil

My latest artwork, titled "McDonald Creek, No. 3", was inspired by the ripples reflected on the colorful pebbles of the McDonald Creek, Glacier National Park, Montana. This piece has a very abstract slant due to its close-up take and the refraction caused by the running water.  

Size: 12" x 16"
Medium: Luminance and Prismacolor colored pencils, and Golden Matte Acrylics
Surface: Art Spectrum Colourfix Supertooth board
Technique: Icarus Painting Board 

 

Even with abstract work, value and composition are still of the outmost importance. A value range from 0 to 10 brings form and depth to life. Colors, of course, always evoke a strong emotional response but if the values are incorrect, the colors will not work. 

I normally block in the main colors with artist crayons and wax pastels (Neocolors). This time I wanted to experiment with acrylics. Since colored pencils adhere only mechanically to acrylics, it's crucial to use a surface with a strong tooth, especially when framing without glass. After acrylics dry, the tooth is then still available for colored pencils. 

Regular acrylics are usually glossy and that finish interferes with colored pencil adhesion. However, Golden Matte Acrylics, Fluid or Heavy Body, are less sleek than gloss acrylics and provide a better surface for colored pencils.

So, what are the advantages of using acrylics with colored pencils? I discovered two helpful applications.

 

USING ACRYLICS TO BLOCK IN COLORS   

Acrylics are perfect for covering large areas of flat color; they can be brushed on quickly and they dry in a jiffy. I chose to paint this pebble with a middle value. With a few brush strokes, using paint thinned with water, I completely obliterated the white of the paper.

 

I then created the ripples with white paint and a lighter value of the local color. I don't worry about being precise at this point; that's where colored pencils will come in handy. 

 

After turning on the heat of my Icarus Painting Board (medium setting), I began developing colors, values and details with colored pencils in my usual fashion, blending with a paper stump when necessary. The acrylic under-layer is left uncovered in some areas to allow for optical blending.

 

USING ACRYLICS TO GLAZE

I use only lightfast colored pencils and some of the colors in the pink, purple and violet family are a little dull and not as bright as their fugitive counterparts.

 

If you're a fan of bright colors like I am, you'll be happy to know that there's a way to remedy that dullness. Acrylics are lightfast and can be glazed over colored pencils. On this pebble I painted a very light mixture of Golden Quinacridone Magenta and Golden Acrylic Glazing Liquid. The glaze worked wonderfully but it took me two tries to get it right.

On the first try, the glaze darkened the overall values. So I reworked the pebble on my Icarus Painting Board; the heat allowed me to easily remove the acrylic glaze using colored pencils alone. After lightening the values, I then re-glazed the pebble (no heat). Acrylics can also be used for touch-ups, especially when highlights have lost their luster; a little Titanium white can do wonders.

 

Wax Bloom: How to Remove it

If you use wax-based colored pencils or wax pastels and artist crayons, you're familiar with wax bloom, that cloudy, white film that forms on the artwork. Don't wipe it off with a cloth or you'll risk smearing the pigment.

I have a simple solution; just blow warm air over the surface with a hair dryer or a heat gun. If you're not in a hurry, let the heat of the Icarus board do the job for you. When you're done with your drawing, final fixative or varnish will take care of wax bloom for ever.